Economics is a broad topic and if you’re not an economist by profession, your knowledge might be limited to the Economy class you took in school. But getting to know the finer points of economics and how the economy works in tandem with things like stock market movements, interest rates, consumer pricing, and housing prices is important from an investing perspective.
Whether you have no formal knowledge of economics, or you took a couple of economics courses in college, or you’re a current economics major, you might be looking for interesting and well-written economics books to help you gain a deeper understanding of this complex and influential discipline. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best modern economics books out there.
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Bootle, chairman of Capital Economics, argues that the economic effects of artificial intelligence may not be as different from those of previous technological transformations as many suppose; that the speed with which the changes occur may not be all that fast; and that, in all probability, piecemeal changes in policy, rather than a radical shift towards universal basic income, are the right response. We need to hear his arguments.
A description of the events leading up to the 2007-2008 world financial crisis by financial journalist Michael Lewis, who also wrote Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, this bestselling non-fiction book spent 28 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. In 2015 it was also made into an award-winning film starring Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, and Ryan Gosling. The book follows generally most of the people who believed the housing bubble was going to burst and, by betting against the collateralised debt obligation bubble, ended up profiting vastly upon eventual collapse. It also follows some of those who lost money, such as Howie Hubler, who sits in second place for the most losses in a single trade at $9 billion.
Today, the US is suffering extreme buyer’s regret over China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001. This book provides a deeply-researched corrective. No, it would not have been better to have left China dangling outside the WTO, and no, China did not systematically break its commitments. Above all, Blustein argues, the WTO remains the best way of inducing China to play by the rules.
Peter F. Drucker is considered to be the most important thinker on management theory ever, and his writings have contributed to the development of the modern business corporation. Well known for predicting future events such as the economic rise of Japan and the emergence of an information society, this book argues that First World nations have already moved to society beyond capitalism, in that capital is owned by organisations rather than individuals. Regular citizens, therefore, become, in essence, the owners of enterprises, and therefore the owners of capital, meaning capitalism is changed without being destroyed. Drucker concludes by arguing that organisations will continue to become highly specialised and that outsourcing rather than diversification will define the future.
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Former managing director of Bain Capital and prominent neoliberal Edward Conard has written another book about the social benefits of inequality, arguing against the commonly held view that the wealthy 1% of US citizens are the cause of many social problems. Debuting at number eight on the New York Times top ten non-fiction list, it was met with broadly positive reviews even by those who disagreed with its argument, such as esteemed economist Larry Summers. Its controversial central theme makes for interesting reading, whether or not you agree with the premise it sets.
With this creative and innovative proposal, Kate Raworth explains her doughnut model of economics, which seeks to find a balance between meeting human needs and respecting the limits of the Earth’s resources what she calls the “ecological ceiling.” Past this ecological ceiling are climate change, ocean acidification, chemical pollution, and other dire threats to human survival. Raworth presents seven focal points to reimagine the economy in a more financially and environmentally sustainable light. Growth writes Raworth, should no longer be our economic goal instead, we need to find a way to live in a stable and sustainable manner.
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Our species can only thrive if our activities are in balance with our natural environment. Yet many opponents of environmental policies are “hostile to science, unwilling to look at data, and inattentive to the long-term environmental consequences of certain industrial activities”, writes Esty, a professor at Yale. The book provides excellent ideas on what can and should be done. The question remains whether the dialogue on these vital topics can cease to be one with the persistently deaf.
Paul Mason, the former economics editor of the British TV channel Channel 4, looks at the current state of global politics and attempts to predict the macroeconomic future of the planet. An analysis of how the ‘digital revolution’ poses a serious threat to capitalism, Mason argues that the way we view and indeed do work has been totally changed, which has the potential to remove the market-driven economy. Written with the effects of the global financial crisis very much still in mind, Mason’s book is polemical and, of course, firmly leaning to the left. Covering everything from protecting to the environment to minimising work until only very small amounts are necessary, some have hailed Mason as ‘a worthy successor to Marx’.
Can the rich save the world or is their philanthropy an elaborate charade? The author of this thought-provoking book has no doubts about the answer: it is indeed a charade, in which the rich seek to justify their wealth by how they use it to improve the world. In the right hands, philanthropy can indeed be valuable. But only politics can tackle big problems. To suggest otherwise, Giridharadas concludes, is fraudulent.
Another anti-capitalist, Naomi Klein, tackles the subject of how environmental concerns will affect capitalist politics in her most recent book. She portrays the solving of the climate crisis as being directly at odds with neoliberal thinking and requiring an ecological revolution for it to be fully addressed. Her central theme is that the market economy is fundamentally at odds with the climate crisis, seeing as it focuses on increased consumption and consists of trade agreements between countries which destroy the environment. It has received positive reviews even from those who disagreed with some of its argument.
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Highly regarded as one of the most important economics books, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty, a French economist, focuses on wealth and income inequality. It seeks to understand what drives the accumulation and distribution of capital, the history of inequality, how wealth is concentrated, and prospects for economic growth. To support his findings and unpack any economic patterns, Piketty analyzes data from 20 countries dating back to the 18th century. All in all, the book provides a better understanding of economic history and contends that inequalities may continue to rise due to political action.