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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars

on 16 September 2011
This is more of an essay than a book; but it is a very well argued and accurate thought provoking piece that achieves its goal of shattering the illusion that countries are analogous to companies.

Despite the specialist nature of the topic, it is also very accessible and someone with even the most basic financial knowledge will be able to understand the arguments.

Despite being very expensive for the numbers of words and pages, it still represents excellent value! That said, if you have access to an academic library, you'll be able to dig it up for free in the physical or on-line archives of the Harvard Business Review!
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on 13 August 2011
This is a brief essay - 5,000 words, formatted for easy reading - by the Nobel-winning economist. It originally appeared in the Harvard Business Review in 1996, but the passage of time has not dated it.

In brief, Krugman's argument is that expertise in business does not translate into expertise in the government of a national - or, by implicit extension, a global - economy. His argument hinges on characterising businesses as open systems and economies as closed systems, and the body of knowledge necessary to understand the latter as significantly more technical and complex than the skills required to prosper in the former.

Krugman's argument is persuasive. This little book - postcard sized, and 55 pages rather than the advertised 64, of which only 50 constitute the article itself - should be required reading for British politicians hypnotised by the rhetoric of charismatic businessmen - and perhaps for businessmen overconfident that mastery of a successful company will give them automatic insight into matters of national finance and economic strategy.

It has to be said that I found the book poor value for money even at the discounted price - it took me less than forty minutes to read. Compare, for example, Penguin's publication of Tyler Cowan's The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History,Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better:A Penguin eSpecial from Dutton - similar quality, three times the length yet barely half the price.

My four star rating is therefore a compromise between five stars for content and three for presentation.
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on 19 January 2010
A Country is not a Company is the kind of provocative book that makes you think again.
Most of its stuff goes against your common sense, but when you work it up, it makes sense. It makes economic sense, although not always «no-nonsense sense».
It is a very small booklet, really more of an essay; you can read in one hour. If economics interests you, it is a well spent one hour.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 November 2011
This is a reprint of one of Krugman's popular articles from the Harvard Business Review, on why business leaders make poor advisors on economic policy. Hence if you were unaware of the format (or did not look at the number of pages prior to buying it) the first reaction may well be surprise at the compactness of the product.

The author makes a compelling case, based on a handful of arguments, on why a country cannot be run according to the principles that would make a business successful, no matter how intuitively appealing such a solution may appear. He goes into some basic differences in the frameworks guiding thinking, such as the difference between open and closed systems, feedback impacts as well as a different level of complexity at the company versus national economy levels, all of which call for a completely different approach in order to succeed.

While a Nobel laureate himself, Krugman requires nothing but the very basic knowledge of economics of his readers, to understand the points being made. The article is also written in a language that is both compelling and easy to follow - in fact half an hour is probably all you need to get through it.

Based on a price per page metric, the book may appear poor value (and if you have got a good electronic library access, or a HBR subscription it probably is) but the message is certainly more than worth it. The article is also an excellent example of how expertise alone should be no obstacle to / excuse for clear, lucid writing.

Just like a lot of Krugman's other work (Pop Internationalism comes to mind), this book is an important piece in debunking some of the common fallacies being spread about the ails of our economies and misguided solutions to them, and should as such really be read by non-economists, so as to make them understand (in this case) why even the best CEO is unlikely to be helpful in saving the day in terms of the national economy.
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on 27 September 2013
Says it all in the title. Some economic concepts, but the gist is clear after reading this short manuscript: countries are open systems and cannot be run like businesses (closed systems). It's explained in the book.
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on 3 March 2012
The book is simply not worth it. If you want to read the article, read it on line. The magazine article is 4 pages long, and that is exactly what content you get with the book. they just make it 64 pages long by shrinking the pages and blowing up the fonds. Not worth th 5 pounds
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on 6 November 2013
I chose this rating because the book arrived in good condition and in good time. It was not for me, it was a present for someone else, so I do not know what the book is like.
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on 3 April 2016
This was a great piece that really helps to unpick so many of the common misconceptions pushed forward by business people into government policy.
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on 29 December 2010
A very small little book describing how much the economic running of a company differs from that of running a state. It is a pity this book was not available to Mrs Thatcher who believed that you could run Britain by extrapolating from the corner shop.
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