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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How new thinking in economics and business can strengthen each other
It is hard to understand why in the beginning of 2008 no economist is able to figure out what to do about the financial chaos starting with the sub-prime disaster. If you have read this book you will underst better why it is a chaos and why nobody has any answers. The economy is a complex system, that is chaotic, and anybody that claims to be able to predict what will...
Published on 25 Feb. 2008

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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Starts off well
This is probably worth reading for the first couple of chapters - which provide a fascinating critique of the classical economics via looking at the origin of the mathematical frameworks in nineteenth century physics. The rest of the book is far less successful; a rather lengthy and unfocussed discussion about how a new economics of complex systems would be so much...
Published on 8 Aug. 2009 by Swindon Ian


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How new thinking in economics and business can strengthen each other, 25 Feb. 2008
This review is from: The Origin Of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics (Paperback)
It is hard to understand why in the beginning of 2008 no economist is able to figure out what to do about the financial chaos starting with the sub-prime disaster. If you have read this book you will underst better why it is a chaos and why nobody has any answers. The economy is a complex system, that is chaotic, and anybody that claims to be able to predict what will happen will only be right by luck.
What did I learn from this book? Do not trust anybody that makes a prediction about a complex system. The idea of economic equilibrium in an economic system is absolute nonsense. There is still some hope. Whilst there are no states of equilibrium the changes are not random. It is not total chaos. The economic system like other complex systems has "emergent properties", like periods with wild gyrations and quieter periods. One can hope that with future research one can find out something useful about the causes of these emergent properties, as the basis for policy making.
Evolution is also a complex system. Organisms change at random due to genetic mutations. The mutations that survive and win, fit best in the environment. It is not the survival of the fittest, the one that fights the hardest; it is the random mutation that thrives best in the current environment. This contains an important lesson for business, may be even for competing economic systems. In the longer term wealth in business is created by innovation (these are the equivalent of mutations). Most successful companies fail to innovate because they only focus on improving their products, like more performance, lower costs and different style. To succeed in innovation the company must in addition take the risk of investing in many mutations of which most will fail.
The book has the great merit of multi-disciplinary thinking. It brings together new thinking in economics, business, evolution and complex systems and shows how these disciplines interact and can strengthen each other.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping reading and a page turner. Really!, 23 May 2011
By 
ConBrio (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Origin Of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics (Paperback)
The title hardly does justice to the richness of the topics he covers, and the brilliance and clarity of the writing. I found myself on a train at midnight reading avidly, jumping ahead, going back - excited at what he uncovered for me. I am not an economist, my interests are sustainability, anthropology and behaviour, and nevertheless this book is a fantastic invitation to understand complex systems and the economy. Highly, highly, highly recommended.

You'll never read a newspaper the same way again.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Starts off well, 8 Aug. 2009
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This review is from: The Origin Of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics (Paperback)
This is probably worth reading for the first couple of chapters - which provide a fascinating critique of the classical economics via looking at the origin of the mathematical frameworks in nineteenth century physics. The rest of the book is far less successful; a rather lengthy and unfocussed discussion about how a new economics of complex systems would be so much better, but without saying anything substantive about what this would look like.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating discussion of how we can understand the economy, 4 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: The Origin Of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics (Paperback)
Perhaps my favourite experiment discussed by Beinhocker is actually a computer simulation, run by Epstein and Axtell, named Sugarscape. In essence, they program an enormous chessboard, with piles of sugar on each square of varying heights. Agents (‘people’) are distributed across the squares with various abilities to find sugar, move around, and survival needs in terms of units of sugar. Agents are allowed to move around, eat, die, and have children, and Epstein and Axtell just press go and see what happens.

What happens is a miniature economy. Individuals move around and various patterns form: average wealth goes up, and over time average abilities increase as the more capable agents reproduce, and we see a fall in social mobility and increase in inequality as wealthy agents have children who also become wealthy. As Beinhocker rightly points out though, it is however not as simple as the skilled agents becoming wealthy; wealth levels are a function of the entire system, and no one factor appears to determine them. In other words, it’s complicated.

If the experimenters add a second type of resource, spice, then we also see trading. Trade routes develop, like virtual Silk Roads, and we see market towns, middlemen, and complex hierarchies of trade. If you want, you can even think of these as virtual investment banks and retail banks, though at some point the analogy will break down, or at least I hope so.

I found the whole thing very interesting, if sometimes a bit technical. Definitely worth a read if this is something you're interested in.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book that should be read, 5 Dec. 2013
By 
Mr. P. A. Gower (Altrincham, Cheshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Origin Of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics (Paperback)
This is an important book that should be read by politicians, businessmen and 1st year economic students. It provides one of the best critiques regarding orthodox economics (of both the left and right varieties) that was fundamentally influenced by late 19th century Physics/Mathematics that ignores post 19th developments especially with regards to chaos theory. Adopting an `evolutionary' view of business/economics (hence the title being a mixed of Darwin's Origin of Species and Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations) Beinhocker provides an excellent framework to consider economic development. To stretched an analogy (probably to breaking point!) I see this book acting as a `John the Baptist' to some messiah who needs to produce a comprehensive up-to-date economic approach. It is certainly needed.

My only criticism is in the final paragraph where he uses the much quoted miss-quote of Mrs Thatcher "There is no such thing as Society. There are individual men and women, and there are families" and argues from the perspective of Complexity Economics she was wrong as it is "the interaction of millions of people, making decisions, engaging in strong reciprocal behavior, acting out their cultural norms, cooperating, competing, and going about their daily lives, creates an emergent phenomenon that we call society." I would argue the exact opposite in that if Mrs Thatcher's misquote is considered in the context of the entire interview in that there is no such thing as "Society" but to use the language of Complexity Economics that "Society" is an emergent phenomenon based on individuals. To quote from the later part her interview, "There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 1 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Origin Of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics (Paperback)
This is a great read. Full of thought provoking pieces and topics it covers a wide range of economic subject areas in an intersting manner. Stick with it and you will reeally benefit. I find myself going back to it regularly just because it's so different from other texts.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and hugely relevant, 15 Feb. 2010
By 
Tobias Rooney (London, Greater London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Origin Of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics (Paperback)
Eric Beinhofer's book is the coming together of multiple strands of thought that have danced across the sciences and into the social sciences. Drawing on much of the work from eminent thinkers such as Kauffman he describes brilliantly the flaws of classical economics, and more broadly market thinking to link up the decline of economics with the growth of complexity theory. The arguments are clearly expressed and brought to life, and the implications mapped out. Of all the books related to complexity I tihnk this is the best at putting it into a business context, marrying the richness of insight and understanding with the specific challenges within the economics sphere. An absolute must for anyone interested in economics or just how they should be thinking about business.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A supreme overview of how evolution & economic systems co-evolve, 20 April 2014
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This review is from: The Origin Of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics (Paperback)
I praise this book in so many ways that I don't know where to start.
- Its profound summary of research is outstanding?
- Its synthesis of complex concepts into plain english?

Unquestionably a must read for anyone just slightly interested in the physics of the modern economy.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Radical Remaking the challenge established economics, 23 Jan. 2008
By 
Pan Tsang (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Origin Of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics (Paperback)
In short, the book is hugely readable and communicate a significant idea that improve on the current weakness of traditional economic and herald a new era of economics rethinking and innovation. The books appears to be under-publicized and under-recognized, for perhaps it receive fiction from the established academic communities. The 'radical remaking' of economics challenges and invalidate some fundamental concepts such as equilibrium. It should be read by all economists who care economics.

Also it must be said Eric proved to be a good story teller, it blend biology, physics and economics together to demonstrate different concepts.

for instances,
- economic system is a evolutionary system, or complex adaptive system, where agents resemble biological evolution
- market dynamics create disequilibrium and the variation and fluctuation is an integral part of the system, invalidating existing simple equilibrium economics assumption.

Also it explain many underlying components of economic systems, network, the concept of 'design space' for innovation and creation of wealth and offer solutions and what-to-do policy implications for us. While the last section of policy implications is not ground-breaking, the gem of the book lies in the excellent part 2 and 3 explaining 'complexity economics' and 'how evolutions create wealth'.

It is very well written for the common reader, his advocacy and introduction of 'complexity economics' is persuasive and not least it bear academic rigour with over 50 pages of references.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well writtten book, 30 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The Origin Of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics (Paperback)
Well writtten book and suitable for those who want a different perspective about economics. The sources are very large and you can use it for academic purposes.
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