on 13 November 2012
I've dabbled with the idea of reading more about economics for years now. I find it a fascinating topic and one that is rarely understood with any real depth without having studied it.
There are many academic style text books out there, as well as a great deal of more accessible books (Tim Harford / Steven D. Levitt etc.) but all of them with a personal skew, selective arguments and presentations dependent on the author's particular bent. This book, or comic should I say, is an entirely different thing. I admit I have not yet finished it but I am thoroughly enjoying its concise yet thorough introduction to the 'dismal science'. It's a wonderfully comprehensive introduction to the basics of how money operates in western society, as well as a very effective political history where Western Europe and the USA is concerned. Adam Smith is well referenced, as are Marx and Engels in their quest for a very different, if largely unrealised kind of system and the twists and turns all of these different models take over subsequent decades and centuries even.
The book may be presented in comic form, but this only goes to tighten its impact and simplify the ease with which the reader can grasp the main concepts. It is easy to refresh on a topic as the subjects covered are well presented in bite size form, with constant reference to past topics already covered to help preserve a constant understanding of the models' development over many many years.
The author wisely reminds us from the off that he is merely presenting the different ideas here - without necessarily pushing in any one direction. This is very important as it becomes clear throughout that very few economic theorists have actually been successful in predicting the long term movement and impact of various monetary policies in the real world. This surely makes the public understanding of these issues even more urgent.
I heartily recommend this book to anyone remotely interested in how money operates on a global, national or local scale. I should also note that I have recently found a new comic presentation of the recent history of social security in the USA which is equally fascinating and can be found at the book's website.
on 29 December 2015
I was actually quite reluctant to purchase “Economix”. After all, a grown man purchasing a comic book looks ridiculous, right? Luckily I swallowed my foolish pride and tucked into this gem, and I’m delighted I did.
Pictures or not, “Economix” contains a wealth (pun intended) of information, more than a text book could ever hope to cover in such a basic but solid form. Historical facts, significant economists, key concepts and political policies are all covered here, with the “comic” format serving as an unintimidating and actually highly-readable setting. In all, this would actually be the prefect introductory guide to the “dismal science” for students and any other curious readers, but for one very significant problem: strong political bias.
Before explaining why that is such a problem, it’s important to give credit to the author on two counts. Firstly, the bias only becomes a real problem towards the end of the book. Secondly, the author is honest enough to acknowledge his own slanted viewpoint.
However, towards the final sections of “Economix” , Michael Goodwin moves towards a sneering, sometimes deceptive view of American politics and presidents in an economic context. Republicans are depicted as gun-touting rednecks while Democrat presidents and voters are represented as the enlightened, desperately fighting for the greater good (read:higher taxes on the rich) and against war economies or bailouts. This is over-simplifying things to the point of dishonesty. Obama voted to fund the Iraq War (not mentioned) , Raegan is slated as a buffoon whose policies increased national debt, yet Obama’s specific policies that added at least 858 BILLION to the debt is not mentioned. The author eschewed that fact in favour of depicting Obama as a savior of health reform, while Republicans tried to stop the reforms because they wanted to continue the greedy gains of private health care businesses.
Those are just a few examples of reporting bias. There are a couple of other distasteful examples. In one picture, James Watt (politician) is asked “What about future generations?” , to which the author includes a quote from Watt: “I don’t know how many terms we have until the Lord returns.”. The obvious intent is to make Watt appear an uncaring, religious bigot who had no wish to preserve the environment. However, the author chopped the full quote in half, the full quote is:
“That is the delicate balance the Secretary of the Interior must have: to be steward for the natural resources for this generation as well as future generations. I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns; whatever it is we have to manage with a skill to leave the resources needed for future generations. “
Why are these points important? Because “Economix” is clearly designed as an introductory text, designed to fashion the thinking of its younger readers. When the author so heavily pushes his own opinions, it discourages impartial analysis and opinion-forming, which is crucial in any science, especially the dismal one.
But even with these faults, the book warrants a very high score. It’s probably the most informative “comic” in existence, it’s entertaining, educational and readable all in one. Highly recommended, with the above caveat in mind.
on 13 March 2016
This is a splendidly written book with many interesting insights, but it is biased. As I started reading, I was hugely impressed. I felt I was reading a real jewel. When you get to the middle of the book, you can feel a distinct left-wing bias creeping in. By the time you get to the later chapters, any pretense of neutrality is gone and it has evolved into full-blown left-wing propaganda. For example, Milton Friedman (my favourite economist of the twentieth century and undeniably hugely important) is done away with in a few sentences because his philosophy doesn't sit well with the author's view of the world. It is strongly anti big business and anti Wall Street. Unless you are mildly socialist, this book will get your blood up a few times. But, on balance, I am glad I bought it, because I also learned a lot from it.
on 27 January 2013
This comic does not attempt to explain economics from a theoretical point of view. It's more of an attempt to track how the economic debate evolved in the past few centuries, with a focus on the United States.
The author is very honest in positioning his work as a "starting point". This work contains the bare minimum facts that everybody who wants to debate economics should be familiar with, framed within a pretty explicit and well argumented anti-neoliberist point of view.
The artistic side of it is not super-compelling, and it feels more like an illustrated book than a comic proper. I don't think this affects the book negatively though.
Overall, it's definitely a hugely recommended read, especially for those unfamiliar with American history.
on 12 January 2015
Everyone remotely interested in how the economy ended up being what it is today, and what it's likely to become tomorrow, needs to spend the couple of hours "reading" this book. Since the author cleverly approached the subject via wonderfully drawn cartoons, the subject matter is almost pre-digested for you. It's a joy to read, with lots of funny, and deep, observations worthy of a classic text on economics. I'll buy at least another copy to give to someone else, it's a superb book.
on 19 August 2014
This book is amazing!!! It is super accessible - all the ideas are beautifully drawn out for you before your eyes in a very simple, straightforward manner. It takes a historical perspective and explains how these complicated systems have developed in response to, and building on, previous existing systems. I have recommended this book to everyone I know.