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Economics: The User's Guide: A Pelican Introduction by [Chang, Ha-Joon]
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Economics: The User's Guide: A Pelican Introduction Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 110 customer reviews

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Length: 475 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Review

Page turning... A fascinating, hurtling explanation of everything... You could use it as a primer, a reference book, a brief history; it is all these things... It reflects the urgent generosity of a thinker whose depth of understanding is matched by a desire to see us all understand... Ha-Joon Chang's wealth is in his knowledge, perceptiveness, insight and vision. And he can't give it away fast enough. It flies off him like the seeds of a dandelion (Zoe Williams The Guardian)

Brilliant... Chang's lightness of touch makes often dry subject matter very readable... The first section is a page-turning history, the second a call to arms about how to apply economics in the real world using simple, everyday examples (Financial Times)

About the Author

Ha-Joon Chang teaches economics at Cambridge University. His book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism was a no.1 bestseller and was called by the Observer 'a witty and timely debunking of some of the biggest myths surrounding the global economy.' He is a popular columnist at the Guardian, and a vocal critic of the failures of our economic system.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1800 KB
  • Print Length: 475 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican (1 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I9PVKIY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 110 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #11,806 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By therealus TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 July 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
For me it was the crash of ’86. For others it will be the Great Recession. Whenever economic calamity strikes we reach for a textbook to gain an understanding of what just happened, why, and what can be done about it. Three decades down from the awakening of my own curiosity I find there are more questions than answers, and they’re multiplying all the time. One of the virtues of Ha-Joon Chang’s introduction to Economics is that, unlike many of the books and courses I’ve devoured over the years, it makes clear that there is no silver bullet. Some of the people claiming to have the answers are as clueless as the rest of us, and that applies in spades for the uncritical cheerleaders of the neo-liberal consensus who laid the foundations for the current debacle, a process some have traced to 1979 and the election of Thatcher and, in short order, the 1980 election of Reagan.

In fact, one of Chang’s bugbears is the laughable concept of the “trickle-down” effect, made “popular” in the Reagan era, where we put even more money in the hands of the rich in the vain hope that they’ll invest it in something that will eventually provide the rest of us with a job and prosperity. Ha! How’s that one working out for ya? Well, looks like most of the people with the money are still investing in the kinds of complex derivatives that got us here in the first place, not in the capital equipment and R&D that would actually be useful.

Much of the content of the book deals with fairly basic economic concepts, clearly positioning it as a primer, but for those wishing to know more the Further Reading sections at the end of each chapter are excellent, referencing some of the books I had in mind when reading.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Ha-joon Changs "Economics: The User's Guide" is the first title in the newly resurrected Pelican imprint. Chang himself is best described as a heterodox economist, firmly outside the mainstream where neoclassical economics (not to mention neoliberalism) is the reigning creed. But given the multiple failings of orthodox economics the heterodox Chang with his cheerful style, wide learning and a clear and concise authorial voice make him the ideal candidate for writing an introductory book on economics. He doesn't dissapoint.

The book itself is divided into twelve chapters exploring a range of economic issues including asking what exactly economics is, exploring the role of the state, inequality and poverty, work and unemployment, finance and production. Sixty odd pages are devoted a brief history of capitalism, giving the reader a pretty good understanding of two and a half centuries of capitalisms global progress.

It's a brilliant introduction for those who have encountered the economy watching the news, through history or political books, and want to find out what this vitaly important aspect of our lives is about. The further reading guides at the end of each chapter are a valuable resource for those whose interests have been aroused. More seasoned students of economics should find the scope of the book (both intellectually and geographically), and it's easy and succinct style ample reward for the effort spent reading. One quibble I have: important terms (privitisation, capital controls, etc) are printed in bold at the point in the text where they are explained, but the index of the defined terms that ought to be there, allowing easy reference to the definitions, is absent.
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6 Comments 59 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By F Henwood TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 May 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Economics, as you have probably heard it said, is the dismal science. It has also been said that string ten economists together and you will never get a conclusion (or words to that effect).

This book is not dismal. And it does not reach definite conclusions (by and large) but is no less worth reading because of that. Ha-Joon Chang has written an introductory text to the subject which goes beyond providing dictionary definitions of key terms. He provides a potted history of the global economy, the consequences of growing inequality in rich countries, an excellent, succinct account of what went wrong with the banking system in 2007/08, expresses scepticism about the value of `happiness' economics (welcome, in my view) and much else besides. You will read a lot of interesting ideas - why, for instance, manufacturing has not declined as much as we think in some western countries, why globalisation is not an inevitable expression of technological progress, why most of the poorest people in the world do not live in low-income countries and, topically, why Google and Starbucks (or Amazon!) have not actually broken any UK laws in their various tax-dodging schemes. It is also a very well-written, very readable work, a pleasure to read. You will certainly learn a lot if you read it.

The principal merit of this book is two-fold: it reminds us that economics is not a science. You cannot take politics out of economics. Dismal it may be; a science it is not. Economists articulate value systems as much as they do descriptions of what is supposed to be happening in the world. The second is that, despite the impression you may get from reading the mainstream press, there are and have been numerous schools of economic thought.
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