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Economic Fables Paperback – 20 Apr 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Open Book Publishers (20 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906924775
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906924775
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 501,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

Ariel Rubinstein is Professor of Economics at Tel Aviv University and Princeton University. His recent publications include Modeling Bounded Rationality (1998), A Course in Game Theory (with M. Osborne, 1994) and Bargaining and Markets (with M. Osborne, 1990).

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author makes an interesting, albeit highly debatable, point, that economic models are nothing but fables and should not be taken too seriously. I would agree that some models are mostly meant to illuminate a simple idea, therefore realism is not essential. This is true for many of the models used for teaching (naturally) and I would say also for lots of published literature on new theoretical results. However, for positive economic analysis this sort of attitude is unacceptable. Policy impact assessment, for example, is basically useless if modelling is not done properly. There will always be flaws in any models, in Economics as in other areas, but we must continue to strive for improvement so our models can do a better job at forecasting and decision support, which the author does not seem to be very interested in, perhaps because he is a game theorist.

It would be a shame if all economists thought that models are fables and therefore stop trying to actually make them more realistic and more useful. For example, perhaps current DGES models are not great, but we must continue searching for better, as is done in other sciences. Do we continue to use the equilibrium assumption? Would we be better off with massive agent-based simulation models? How should expectations be modelled? These are relevant questions that cannot be so easily dismissed.

At any rate, the book rambles a bit, jumping among seemingly disconnected topics mixed with personal vignettes which occasionally seem beside the point. Hence the 3-star rating.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this short book on the basis of a recommendation on Diane Coyle's blog where she chose it as her book of the year for 2012. It's difficult to describe: part biography, part series of lectures on game theory and the limits of models, and a few other things as well. Probably best if you find the review on Diane's blog.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This small book gives some brilliant insights into economic thinking, written by a brilliant man. Very accessible to readers from all backgrounds
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I feel a serious sense of deja vu in these (otherwise) very good books that end with some socialist diatribe 11 April 2014
By Michael Hatmaker - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First the good: About 85% of this book is truly exceptional. There are few academics that can take a subject as complicated as economics (including game theory, etc.) and present it in a way that is not only understandable but also enjoyable. This author accomplishes that, and I commend him on his teaching and storytelling abilities.

The not-so-good: About 10% of this book is mired in some rather obscure subject matter that cannot be saved by the writer's abilities (and probably couldn't be saved by *any* writer). There is a section near the end, for example, where the author goes into detail about his work on applying economic principles to language. I appreciate writing that is intellectually challenging, but this section (and a very few others) were so tedious as to be absurd.

The bad: Once again, I find a very talented academic writer that follows up 10+ chapters of precise, logical instruction with one chapter espousing his socialist views in which logic and critical thinking are abandoned to the extreme. Certainly, different viewpoints and political biases are beneficial. But the breakdown of logic in what is a book about academic rigor (or lack thereof) in economics is alarming. As a libertarian and a believer in the superiority of capitalism over rival economic systems, I was put off by the personal (socialist) political statement that is the last chapter. As a reader and critical thinker, I was put off by the vapid generalizations that infest this chapter ("Most people believe...", "Almost everyone will agree...", "All of us want..."). It is an almost-unforgivable grievance.

Fortunately, the rest of the book is so good that I could only take away one star. This book is certainly worth the read. I suppose I will have to learn to expect that any academic (regardless of their intellect or writing prowess) is incapable of ending a book without preaching their socialist political beliefs using weak arguments and scant evidence. Sigh.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 27 Mar. 2017
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
nice book~
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read to anyone who took a course in Economics 28 Mar. 2013
By Inon Zuckerman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book describes a well kept "secret" that is rarely known to people outside of the academic boundaries of economic research. I don't want to be blunt so I'll just say that (classical) economic research is very limited, builds upon problematic assumptions and its predictive ability on human behavior is close to nothing.

However, now we can read it from the writings of a world class professor of economy. Ariel Rubinstein sees how economic research is being abused to provide "predictive power" and justify economical and political agendas around the world, when it is obvious that scientifically it does not provide such insights. Sadly, the beautiful mathematical models that economic scholars use often blur reality in a way that the models are practically useless. The main message is that people should be highly critical when faced with economic "theories" as the main engine behind any sort of regulatory policy. This is a very important take-home message that shouldn't be overlooked.

Anyway, Ariel takes us for a ride through several important pitstops such as the fallacies in the "economic man" (rationality assumption), and some experiments that show that people simply do not behave like economics expect them to behave under that assumption. Next, we delve into Game theory and its inherent limitation (again, steaming from these assumptions). The next chapter was to me the most interesting one as it illustrate the Jungle model vs. the Market model, and show that they behave the same with respect to important theoretical results.

The next to last chapter walks us through one of his own research projects, conversation and persuasion situations, and reveals several weaknesses and criticisms that should have been pointed out in his own results. This is extremely important to see how interdisciplinary research often use some of the "respected" economical models to give a theoretic boost to its claims. Prof. Rubinstein takes us through his results and explicitly puts down the different traps that a critical reader of his research should have been thinking about.

The book is very interesting to read, and can be approached without any knowledge in Economy. The author also spice-up his ideas with personal experiences as a child growing up in Jerusalem, and from living in a lively political arena in the middle-east. I think the book is a must-read for anyone who ever took any academic course in Economy and for some reason now think that he can understand market and people's behavior.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and light reading about economic modelling 20 Jun. 2013
By Christian Gut - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The first half is a nice reflecting about economic models. The second half is rather longwinding reading about a whole bunch of subjects.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An essay from a great economist 7 Jan. 2013
By CaRaPr - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is more of a personal account and should be read as such. However, it's a personal account from man worthy of your attention if you have any interest in the topics of the book.
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