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In his bestselling 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism, Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang brilliantly debunked many of the predominant myths of neoclassical economics. Now, in an entertaining and accessible primer, he explains how the global economy actually works—in real-world terms. Writing with irreverent wit, a deep knowledge of history, and a disregard for In his bestselling 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism, Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang brilliantly debunked many of the predominant myths of neoclassical economics. Now, in an entertaining and accessible primer, he explains how the global economy actually works—in real-world terms. Writing with irreverent wit, a deep knowledge of history, and a disregard for conventional economic pieties, Chang offers insights that will never be found in the textbooks. Unlike many economists, who present only one view of their discipline, Chang introduces a wide range of economic theories, from classical to Keynesian, revealing how each has its strengths and weaknesses, and why  there is no one way to explain economic behavior. Instead, by ignoring the received wisdom and exposing the myriad forces that shape our financial world, Chang gives us the tools we need to understand our increasingly global and interconnected world often driven by economics. From the future of the Euro, inequality in China, or the condition of the American manufacturing industry here in the United States—Economics: The User’s Guide is a concise and expertly crafted guide to economic fundamentals that offers a clear and accurate picture of the global economy and how and why it affects our daily lives.


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In his bestselling 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism, Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang brilliantly debunked many of the predominant myths of neoclassical economics. Now, in an entertaining and accessible primer, he explains how the global economy actually works—in real-world terms. Writing with irreverent wit, a deep knowledge of history, and a disregard for In his bestselling 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism, Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang brilliantly debunked many of the predominant myths of neoclassical economics. Now, in an entertaining and accessible primer, he explains how the global economy actually works—in real-world terms. Writing with irreverent wit, a deep knowledge of history, and a disregard for conventional economic pieties, Chang offers insights that will never be found in the textbooks. Unlike many economists, who present only one view of their discipline, Chang introduces a wide range of economic theories, from classical to Keynesian, revealing how each has its strengths and weaknesses, and why  there is no one way to explain economic behavior. Instead, by ignoring the received wisdom and exposing the myriad forces that shape our financial world, Chang gives us the tools we need to understand our increasingly global and interconnected world often driven by economics. From the future of the Euro, inequality in China, or the condition of the American manufacturing industry here in the United States—Economics: The User’s Guide is a concise and expertly crafted guide to economic fundamentals that offers a clear and accurate picture of the global economy and how and why it affects our daily lives.

30 review for Economics: The User's Guide

  1. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    This is a really good book. A couple of years ago I decided it would be a good idea to get a better idea about what all the excitement was with this economics stuff. So, I set about reading some books. I also decided that I ought to read some books I was likely to disagree with, to get a better idea of the full spectrum of thought around this topic. Some of the threads under the reviews of the books I read that supported free market economics still occasionally flare up. I’m much more likely to This is a really good book. A couple of years ago I decided it would be a good idea to get a better idea about what all the excitement was with this economics stuff. So, I set about reading some books. I also decided that I ought to read some books I was likely to disagree with, to get a better idea of the full spectrum of thought around this topic. Some of the threads under the reviews of the books I read that supported free market economics still occasionally flare up. I’m much more likely to be called an idiot under those reviews than just about any other I have written. Generally that is all the people do say, though – “McCandless, you’re an idiot”. Which is fine, and pretty close to the level of ‘debate’ I would expect. But I also read books with titles like Economics for people that don’t like Capitalism or Filthy Lucre – you know, books I sort of thought might give me a more ‘left wing’ perspective on economics. But generally these books were written by people who fully accepted that the only way to understand the economy was from the perspective of neoliberal economics and that if your view differed in any way from this perspective then you were simply wrong. They quietly asserted that economics is a science and that that science is completely settled. The problem I had with this was that neoliberal policies have dominated the world economy for decades and, well, in a word (number?) 2008. You know, we ended up being fried in the GFC and from the outside that did look a bit like being the fault of neoliberal policies. I’d have thought that anyone who even pretended to be even a wee bit objective might think that the GFC could, perhaps, offer a bit of a challenge to the neoliberal orthodoxy. I know, I can be incredibly naïve. This is the book that I wish I’d read close to first. It really is a lovely introduction to economics. Firstly, it tells you that the GFC really does present a challenge to the major economic orthodox theory of today – neoliberalism. It also says that there are other economic theories and that these have been far too often completely ignored by authors who have been far too partisan in their views. It then goes on to outline the major economic theories and to highlight their main assumptions and concerns. For the summary he provides of these on the pages following 165 in an appendix to the chapter on the subject really the book is a must have. But this is so much more than merely an attack on neoliberal economic theories – in fact, it could be argued that it isn’t even really that. The author sees economic theories as essentially a series of tools that can be used to help understand economic phenomena. As such, each theory provides a different way to understand these phenomena and each theory is therefore somewhat limited in its scope and applicability. The problem arises when people are ideologically committed to only one theory – he quotes that saying about to the guy with a hammer everything looks like a nail – and so that is where problems arise. As someone who likes the idea that the world is complicated and difficult to understand and that having as many candles available to help light the world from different perspectives as one can is about our only hope to understand the world at all – this is all pretty well someone singing my favourite song. But it won’t be all that well liked by the kinds of people who tell me how much they hate me under those reviews I mentioned before of neoliberal economics texts I’ve read. One of the things I really liked about this book is that chapters end with ‘real world numbers’ and this is such an important thing. He talks about things we all know to be true – we live in a globalised world, we are deindustrialising, education makes us more productive – and then he provides the numbers and muddies these waters in ways they really should be muddied. He ends this book by saying that economics is too important to be left to the professional economists and that it isn’t all that hard to learn the basics and therefore to have a better chance of knowing when you are being taken for a ride. This really is a worthwhile book to read, highly recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Simon Wood

    TOO IMPORTANT TO BE LEFT TO ECONOMISTS 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 fo TOO IMPORTANT TO BE LEFT TO ECONOMISTS 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 in the text at the point where they are explained, but the index of the defined terms allowing easy reference is absent. This is a book which along with his "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism" and "Bad Samaritans" I'd strongly recommend reading, not least because (as Chang himself notes) a widespread knowledge of economics is essential to understanding our societies and democraticising our political life.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mark Lawry

    We all have our conversational biases. Mine is a belief in limited government, free trade, and market economies. Chang’s is a belief in a larger state, regulation, and a lack of faith in markets. That’s fine, we can all continually read and learn from each other. However, Chang tries to walk a fine line between being governed by his own biases while yet being continually wrong. There are just too many examples of this in this work. I will name just a couple. He claims “Only Chile did well out o We all have our conversational biases. Mine is a belief in limited government, free trade, and market economies. Chang’s is a belief in a larger state, regulation, and a lack of faith in markets. That’s fine, we can all continually read and learn from each other. However, Chang tries to walk a fine line between being governed by his own biases while yet being continually wrong. There are just too many examples of this in this work. I will name just a couple. He claims “Only Chile did well out of Neo-Liberal policies (think Reagan and Thatcher) of the 1980s and the 1990s.” I’m not going to write a book about how foolish a statement this is. Then on page 166 he claims that several rich countries of Europe had maintained less than 1% unemployment during the Golden Age (post WWII until Reagan era of deregulation.) It was the disastrous unemployment and inflation that ushered in Reagan. There is one place where Chang and I probably agree. He says that one should read as extensively as possible opinions from as many as possible. For this reason I will probably read a couple other books of his. The problem with this book is it is nothing more than an encyclopedia of economic terms with his opinion mixed in. I’m willing to read his evidence or argument that expands on what he claims in this book. Perhaps a useful book to add to an undergrad Econ 101 reading list.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    I revisit this every few years; always engaging, real world ECON 101 to reference and critique. The Good: --A worthy State Capitalist reformer (with specialty in Development Economics) to engage with, it is fascinating to see how Chang organizes "Economics" and makes it accessible. --This User's Guide on how to think (as opposed to what to think) about Economics has some sound principles: 1) Political Economy: Economics cannot be a science as the issues it addresses are political, immersed in mora I revisit this every few years; always engaging, real world ECON 101 to reference and critique. The Good: --A worthy State Capitalist reformer (with specialty in Development Economics) to engage with, it is fascinating to see how Chang organizes "Economics" and makes it accessible. --This User's Guide on how to think (as opposed to what to think) about Economics has some sound principles: 1) Political Economy: Economics cannot be a science as the issues it addresses are political, immersed in morality and social relations. So, when faced with various subjective perspectives, it is prudent to consider cui bono? (to whom does it benefit?) 2) Schools of Thought: Economic theories are ideological and start from different assumptions, so at least familiarize yourself with their context. 3) Real World Economics: Economics is not just "the Market", as if every economic activity is a market exchange to maximize utility and this all sums up to a utopic equilibrium. Example: what happens inside a company is outside the market; activities are run by hierarchical social relations. This should be significant in the age of sprawling transnational corporations that dominate the global economy. The Bad: --As with his previous books, Chang's emphasis on State Capitalist economic development confines his analysis to extracting lessons from the winners and losers of capitalist development. Thus, he has less to say about the totality of the capitalist system and its systemic contradictions: 1) Class Struggle/Economic Democracy: the contradiction of Social Democracy (political democracy + capitalist economy) is that during economic booms (i.e. post WWII "Golden Age of Capitalism") the political democracy part is allowed to coexist in a class compromise. This compromise falls apart during economic downturns, as the capitalist class (which owns the means of production) hordes and consolidates their class power (i.e. Neoliberalism). Even during the class compromise, the capitalist system rewards those who best appropriates social (public) production into private accumulation. Non-capitalists (i.e. no share in capital) will always face this economic exploitation and alienation from their labor; downturns lead to more dispossession, while even social innovations can ruin sectors and regions (i.e. automation leading to structural unemployment instead of more leisure time, because a minority own the machines). 2) Structural Crises: the most compelling critics of capitalism understand this paradox: capitalism's dynamism is at the same time its volatility; the greater the boom, the greater the bust. Capitalism's engine is its coercive social mobilization for economic growth, where capitalists are forced mobilize capital/invest + expand markets to stay competitive and workers are forced into wage labor to survive: i) Mobilizing capital for modern capitalism's scale requires massive debts (i.e. money borrowed from the future with the expectation of growth), thus ever-greater banks + bubbles. -Accessible intro: Talking to My Daughter about the Economy: Or, How Capitalism Works--And How It Fails ii) Cutting costs to stay competitive means greater automation; this culminates in structural unemployment, reduced demand, and overproduction. iii) Infinite growth on a finite planet: Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System 3) Military Industrial Complex: I always find this a perplexing omission, if we view Chang's much-praised post-WWII "Golden Age of Capitalism" as a recycling of American production surpluses (transformed during WWII, where the burgeoning military industrial complex is a crucial component) to a rebuilding Europe and Japan. Even for Chang's South Korea rapid industrialization, how much was this aided by military contracts for the American war on Vietnam? -Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism -War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier Highlights: --Chang popularizes heterodox economics by describing these schools as ingredients to be mixed in various "economic cocktails" to deal with particular economic problems: Health warning: On no account drink only one ingredient – liable to lead to tunnel vision, arrogance and possibly brain death. -Ingredients: Austrian (A) Behaviouralist (B) Classical (C) Developmentalist (D) Institutionalist (I) Keynesian (K) Marxist (M) Neoclassical (N) Schumpeterian (S) [...] On diverging views of the vitality and the viability of capitalism, take CMSI. If you want to know why we sometimes need government intervention, take NDK. To discover different ways of conceptualizing the individual, take NAB. In order to learn that there is a lot more to the economy than markets, take MIB. If you want to see how groups, especially classes, are theorized, take CMKI. To study how technologies develop and productivities rise, take CMDS. To understand economic systems, rather than just their components, take MDKI. If you want to find out why corporations exist and how they work, take SIB. If exploring how individuals and society interact is your thing, take ANIB. For debates surrounding unemployment and recession, take CK. For various ways of defending the free market, take CAN. --Chang's chapter The age-old trick of transfer pricing: Taking advantage of the fact that they operate in countries with different tax rates, TNCs [Transnational corporations] have their subsidiaries over-charge or under-charge each other – sometimes grossly – so that profits are highest in those subsidiaries operating in countries with the lowest corporate tax rates. In this way, their global post-tax profit is maximized. A 2005 report by Christian Aid, the development charity, documents cases of under-priced exports like TV antennas from China at $0.40 apiece, rocket launchers from Bolivia at $40 and US bulldozers at $528 and over-priced imports such as German hacksaw blades at $5,485 each, Japanese tweezers at $4,896 and French wrenches at $1,089. The Starbucks and Google cases were different from those examples only in that they mainly involved ‘intangible assets’, such as brand licensing fees, patent royalties, interest charges on loans and in-house consultancy (e.g., coffee quality testing, store design), but the principle involved was the same.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I really wanted to like this, but I felt like looking at economics this way was more disjointed than helpful. Instead of presenting a textbook approach to economics, Ha-Joon Chang tackles it more conversationally. After digging into the history of economic thought he explores a variety of current events and shows their ties to economics. Readers may take away a greater appreciation for what economics can tell us, but they probably won't get an understanding of how to "do" economics.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maru Kun

    ...when faced with an economic argument, you must ask the age-old question 'Cui bono?' - Who benefits?... Or in other words, "follow the money". So says Ha-Joon Chang in the epilogue to this excellent introduction to economics which shows how economic questions cannot be separated from political questions and which helps explain how politicians hide behind smokescreens of economic theory and economic jargon to advance policies that favour particular interest groups - more often than not the rich ...when faced with an economic argument, you must ask the age-old question 'Cui bono?' - Who benefits?... Or in other words, "follow the money". So says Ha-Joon Chang in the epilogue to this excellent introduction to economics which shows how economic questions cannot be separated from political questions and which helps explain how politicians hide behind smokescreens of economic theory and economic jargon to advance policies that favour particular interest groups - more often than not the rich - instead of policies that reflect the democratic will of their electors. This is important as recent years have seen many professional economists turn into little more than paid shills preaching "trickle down economics" and the "supremacy of the market" for the benefit of rich patrons. This book will help you put your finger on exactly where and how the work of these shills is based on faith or fantasy rather than on objective evidence about how economies actually work. If only Queen Elizabeth had had a copy of this book at hand when she asked why no economists foresaw the financial crisis of 2008. She would have learnt that the "neo-classical" economics that dominates economic discussion in the media is based on a series of assumptions - hyper-rationality, perfect knowledge and efficient markets - that are almost farcically different from conditions that actually apply in the world. She would also have learnt that there are many other schools of economic thought that provide much better frameworks for analysing economics and a better job of answering her question as well as learning about a range of economic issues - production, inequality, the reality of globalization, immigration - that are swept under the carpet by economists who, whether they admit it or not, have a political agenda. ...economics is far more accessible than many economists would have you believe... Ha-Joon Chang's book is a reminder that the future of our democracy is in doubt if we don't educate ourselves to tell the difference between the economic propaganda spouted by vested interests and the economic and political truth we can observe in the world around is if we spend the time to try and understand it. This book is a great step towards such an understanding.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Katia N

    3.5/5 Ha-Joon Chang is the economist from Cambridge. He broadly specialises in the field of development economics, but famous for his books “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.”  (I have not read that book). I picked up “the Manual” with the idea of refreshing my knowledge of basic economics. For this purpose, I think, the book is not the best source, but I found a few very interesting and useful parts and ideas in the book nevertheless. He splits the book in two parts. It is the secon 3.5/5 Ha-Joon Chang is the economist from Cambridge. He broadly specialises in the field of development economics, but famous for his books “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.”  (I have not read that book). I picked up “the Manual” with the idea of refreshing my knowledge of basic economics. For this purpose, I think, the book is not the best source, but I found a few very interesting and useful parts and ideas in the book nevertheless. He splits the book in two parts. It is the second part, “Doing economics” i've had problems with. Mainly, because it did not add too much to what i already knew. He would not go farther than the knowledge of a layperson with good grasp of the current affairs. And very often his point of view is a bit too obvious. In this part, he discusses the following Macroeconomic areas: Measurement of Growth, Production, Work and Unemployment, the Role of the Government, Globalisation. It would be useful, if one does not know anything about how modern economy function. But if you do, you can skip this bit or read just headings. However, I enjoyed the first part of the book and his views on the subject of the economics per se. He defines the economics as a study of economy (money, work, technology, trade, taxes and other things which we have to do to distribute the incomes generated in the process and consume what it produced.) As opposed to study of rational decision making within the constraints of scarcity. And as a second step, he postulates that the economy could not be separated from the politics, or at least that the boundary is very blur. “Because the boundary of the market and economy is determined by politics. Not by the economics theory of whatever variety.” He argues that the politicians (and sometimes the society) decide what is subject to market and what is not. For example, the human beings are used to be subjects of the market transactions during the slavery. And current emission limits trading is something which was never defined as the market before. Further he argues that “a political argument often presented as a science.” by all involved. Also he argues that the markets might be detrimental to democracy: “Markets run according to the one-dollar-one-vote rule while democratic politics run on the principle of one person one vote. Thus the proposal for greater depoliticisation of the economy in the democracy is in the end an antidemocratic project that wants to give more power in the running of the society to those with more money.” It is a very interesting point worth considering. I personally can see where he is coming from, but do not entirely agree with the view “one dollar one vote” automatically benefits the rich - mass consumption fuelled by the debt is only thing which “trickled down” successfully. So the economy is relying on the masses to buy stuff. If they would stop for whatever reason, their economic vote would be very tangible. But this discussion is very interesting and relevant and should be continued. The book also includes the brief history of capitalism which summarises the economic development up to current time. It is by definition sketchy, and i found it too selective to be helpful. But another chapter is devoted to the history of economic thought. He identifies 9 different schools of economic theories (from Adam Smith to Austrians, Keynesian, institutionalises etc.) and presents their main ideas, strengths and weaknesses. I found this analysis invaluable, the most interesting and unbiased part of the book. The chapter I would come back to reread. As a conclusion, he claims if the economist says to you “there is no alternative”, he cannot be right and not to be trusted. PS: The interview with him about this book and other stuff: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/0...

  8. 4 out of 5

    howl of minerva

    The second of these Pelican Introductions that I've read. They seem to nicely split the difference between Oxford UP's Very Short Introductions (great but obviously only toe-dipping) and heftier academic texts. Chang provides a broad overview of different schools of economic thought and argues sensibly that economics should not be considered an empirical science but a social and political one. This should be obvious but it's not. Dominant ideologies love to appropriate the mantle of science. Tha The second of these Pelican Introductions that I've read. They seem to nicely split the difference between Oxford UP's Very Short Introductions (great but obviously only toe-dipping) and heftier academic texts. Chang provides a broad overview of different schools of economic thought and argues sensibly that economics should not be considered an empirical science but a social and political one. This should be obvious but it's not. Dominant ideologies love to appropriate the mantle of science. That's as true for 'scientific socialism' as for the TINA-ism of the neoliberal age. God said, "Let Hayek Be!" and all was light. If you're familiar with Chang's work, his own positions here will come as no surprise: 'free-market' economics means de-development for the global south; some regulation is a good thing etc. He situates these views in the field of competing opinions. His plea at the end for a more engaged public that is willing to doubt experts is problematic. Chang writes from Britain. Should the public there ignore experts in favour of their gut feelings? That's probably contributed to the current woes. But if we do need experts, which ones are trustworthy? It surely takes expertise to know. The average member of public has to pick one and/or try to become one and/or be swept up by demagoguery. My preference for economists like Chang, Stiglitz and Piketty realistically has more to do with my overall political sympathies than my knowledge of economics. Bernays examines this dilemma in detail in Propaganda and I think there's no simple solution. (Education, you say? Who will do the educating?). Perhaps Piketty's forthcoming monster opus on Capital and Ideology will provide clues.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tanvika

    Irresistable, likeable introductory book to Economics. I can say that as being a economics student,have struggled quite a bit with the lame,dry, scientific, imaginary diagram prone idealistic neoclassical way of learning. The subject was also taught very very mechanically as a means to maximize our grades and careers. The first thing the writer does is to break the ' hoax of being a science to be known only by specialist'. You don't need to be a genius to know what people do, why the price keeps Irresistable, likeable introductory book to Economics. I can say that as being a economics student,have struggled quite a bit with the lame,dry, scientific, imaginary diagram prone idealistic neoclassical way of learning. The subject was also taught very very mechanically as a means to maximize our grades and careers. The first thing the writer does is to break the ' hoax of being a science to be known only by specialist'. You don't need to be a genius to know what people do, why the price keeps on jumping around, the net output made, the income disparities and the high level of unemployment in the world. The layman when aware can also keep a check on the experts,the government before another 2008 crisis knocks at our door. Again, the writer doesn't directly cut short history,society,pschyology as is general in a standard eco textbook. History of capitalism is elaborated (economic history is much neglected these days). There is a respect for various schools of thought like keynesian,Marxian,austrian, institutional, schumpeterian etc. These various schools contains some diverse views to look at our economy. There is just no one explanation.let hundred flowers bloom,hundered schools contend. Let's cross fertilize and understand the reality more better. There are then various chapters beautifully laying the basics ; the economic actors,the output, percapita income, happiness index, unemployment, inequality reasons and trends, poverty, development,finance,trade etc. There is a multiple vantage point view followed. The themes have witty titles like ' Boris goat should drop dead' ,'dramatis persona'. there is a practical way of presenting data and it's interpretation. Cross country comparisons are also very well explained. It is also pointed out clearly,that data isn't that perfect and supreme. For instance, gross domestic product excludes house work,care for elders, informal enterprises etc. Data collecting is itself a very challenging task in developing economies. As a introductory text,i wish this book had been referred to me way earlier. It does do a fairly good job to demystify and connect economics to the ground. But, I was disappointed, by the passing mention to environmental damages caused in the name of economic growth.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    This is a brilliant book that dismantles the current fetishism that tries to turn economics--a study of human behavior and its consequences with all the uncertainty and rough edges that any investigation of people and the way they act must contain--into a materialistic science like physics or chemistry with the same rigor and exactitude. The basic assumptions of classical, neo-classical, neo-liberal and most economic thought are based on some core principles which, when looked at apart from the This is a brilliant book that dismantles the current fetishism that tries to turn economics--a study of human behavior and its consequences with all the uncertainty and rough edges that any investigation of people and the way they act must contain--into a materialistic science like physics or chemistry with the same rigor and exactitude. The basic assumptions of classical, neo-classical, neo-liberal and most economic thought are based on some core principles which, when looked at apart from the ideology in which they are embedded, become risible. Unless, of course, one takes seriously that individuals are perfectly selfish, always act perfectly rational and are able to create perfect markets by acting in her own interests. This isn't a Jeremiad against the profession. Chang is much too entertaining and too good a writer for that. He is interested in the spirit of political economy, a concept so fitting that one wonders how it could have fallen so far out of fashion. Instead of a faux-hard science with page-long equations that generally describe nothing, he is interested in getting (back) to the real thing, the study of political management of the economy. There is a lot to recommend in all of Chang's work and "Economics: The User's Guide" is as good a place to start as any. My only quibble is with its page design and layout--there are so many terms in bold type (often several per page) and so many italic summaries that it become distracting. Other than those typographical complaints though, this book is a masterpiece worth reading by anyone interested in how the profession of economics works.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ed Erwin

    Pretty darn good. Dry in places, but that is probably inevitable. I suppose the main take-away is "Economics is a political argument. It is not – and can never be – a science; there are no objective truths in economics that can be established independently of political, and frequently moral, judgements." Whenever some politician says "There is no alternative," they are wrong. Looking at the world from one framework there may be only one right option. But there are multiple frameworks, and none of Pretty darn good. Dry in places, but that is probably inevitable. I suppose the main take-away is "Economics is a political argument. It is not – and can never be – a science; there are no objective truths in economics that can be established independently of political, and frequently moral, judgements." Whenever some politician says "There is no alternative," they are wrong. Looking at the world from one framework there may be only one right option. But there are multiple frameworks, and none of them is proven, nor applies in every situation.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tam

    This book serves well as an introduction to Economics and its different schools of thought. This is a welcoming effort since underlying assumptions are not so often spelled out clearly and examined. Admittedly, this is only an introduction and thus the examination is brief (to my taste), yet it would be a very useful one for people not in the field, baffled by the seemingly too complex economic issues, yet who wish to know more. This is somewhat similar to Chang's other books in the author's crit This book serves well as an introduction to Economics and its different schools of thought. This is a welcoming effort since underlying assumptions are not so often spelled out clearly and examined. Admittedly, this is only an introduction and thus the examination is brief (to my taste), yet it would be a very useful one for people not in the field, baffled by the seemingly too complex economic issues, yet who wish to know more. This is somewhat similar to Chang's other books in the author's criticism of neo-liberalism. The bonus is his overall deconstruction of the view that Economics is a "science" in the sense of natural sciences are with, well, 'universal laws' and free of value judgments/politics. Some natural scientists would have something to comment on the latest developments in their fields about the existence of universal laws" and complete objectivity, which I wouldn't discuss. Nevertheless, surely I agree with this message. Chang presents some major schools of thoughts in Economics, about which I was very excited. Again his presentation is cursory and I'm not totally satisfied. But more than that, my expectation was of something larger, about the overall methodologies in the field: the 'overus'e of maths, stats, (I think) etc. and thus the failure to employ other tools. It fell short of my expectation, therefore 3 stars.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Francisco

    I started reading this book thinking that it provided an unconventional view on how the economy works. The book doesn't do that. The author portends that he's about to give you an introduction to economics, or to teach you how to think critically about economics. He doesn't do either, or at least not well. This book is a push-back against the neo-liberal, free-market, "right-wing" ideology that dominates the economics establishment, thinly disguised as a guide to the macroeconomy. I don't mind t I started reading this book thinking that it provided an unconventional view on how the economy works. The book doesn't do that. The author portends that he's about to give you an introduction to economics, or to teach you how to think critically about economics. He doesn't do either, or at least not well. This book is a push-back against the neo-liberal, free-market, "right-wing" ideology that dominates the economics establishment, thinly disguised as a guide to the macroeconomy. I don't mind the ideology, but it's not the type of book I thought I was going to read. The book fails as an introduction to economics because it doesn't teach you to "think like an economist." For that, you need microeconomics. It's not a crash course in macroeconomics, either (although the structure of the book is closer to that of a macro textbook than of a micro textbook). After a prolonged first act (motivation, definition of economics, history of capitalism, history of economic thought, and introduction to the economic actors), the author sets out to explain different areas of macroeconomics. In each chapter he ensures you question the received wisdom (unfailingly free-market, neo-liberal) and invites you to give a chance to alternative views. For example, in the chapter about the "international dimension" (Ch. 12) he questions the notion that free trade is always good. I do appreciate that he takes the time to go through several prominent schools of economic thought (Ch. 4), and tries to instill in the reader the sense that there's no such thing as "the right" economic school. All of them get something right, and none gets everything right. An eclectic, open-minded attitude is beneficial to students of economics at all levels. I also must say that the book is written with wit and humor. With those caveats in mind, do read the book if (1) Your education in economics is at the college level or below, (2) You are already extremely interested in economics, (3) You already have read a conventional introduction to macroeconomics, and (4) You don't mind the ideological push-back.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Franz

    I have found a new favorite author. Chang, an economist at Cambridge University, has written a reader-friendly guide that is sensible and fairly comprehensive. He is convinced that anyone who makes some effort can understand the basic principles of economics, and such knowledge is required for anyone who hopes to have some impact on decisions regarding our local, national, and global societies. In other words, all of us. He immediately admits that, contrary to the claims of many orthodox economi I have found a new favorite author. Chang, an economist at Cambridge University, has written a reader-friendly guide that is sensible and fairly comprehensive. He is convinced that anyone who makes some effort can understand the basic principles of economics, and such knowledge is required for anyone who hopes to have some impact on decisions regarding our local, national, and global societies. In other words, all of us. He immediately admits that, contrary to the claims of many orthodox economists, economics is not a science; there are no objective economic facts or laws waiting to be discovered. Outcomes resulting from various economic policies are produced as the consequence of the values—moral, political, and social—expressed in those policies and outcomes by their authors. Values ultimately have greater impact on policy decisions than facts and data since even these are interpreted in the light of the values the interpreters hold. Another strength of the book is that Chang does something I have never seen done in an economics book written for the general reader. In a long chapter he describes nine different schools of economics and explains the advantages and disadvantages of each. Among these are the classical, neo-classical, Keynesian, Marxist, and Austrian schools. He encourages taking a pragmatic approach and adopting what works in each of these schools and discarding what doesn’t. He is highly critical of any purely ideological approach for the reason that such an approach will lead to certain disaster, as has recently occurred. Although he recognizes its good elements, Chang reserves his greatest criticisms for neo-classical economics because that school has been dominant as orthodox economics for the last forty years, and its unfettered dogma of free markets and hyper-individualism led to the recent Great Recession, current unconscionable levels of income and wealth inequalities, and the crisis in the Eurozone. He argues that had other points of view been in play then perhaps better policies could have been enacted that could have avoided the current mess. Whether discussing financial markets, economic inequalities, international trade, or the economic development of what used to be known as Third World nations, Chang takes an equally pragmatic and even handed line. He generally avoids jargon and manages to explain some fairly complicated concepts in plain English. To illustrate various points he draws on popular culture, and he is rarely boring and often witty. Although I must admit that by the last chapter on international trade my concentration began to lag.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Otto Lehto

    A decent overview of the subject of economics, written by the "maverick" Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang, whose books have challenged the status quo in a witty way. This book, however, is a bit flimsier. It doesn't really know what it wants to be: an introduction to the layman, or a critical commentary on the present state of the science? Therefore, it ends up being a bit of both. It is full of good advice: "the willingness to challenge professonal economists and other experts should be the fou A decent overview of the subject of economics, written by the "maverick" Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang, whose books have challenged the status quo in a witty way. This book, however, is a bit flimsier. It doesn't really know what it wants to be: an introduction to the layman, or a critical commentary on the present state of the science? Therefore, it ends up being a bit of both. It is full of good advice: "the willingness to challenge professonal economists and other experts should be the foundation of democracy." I was particulary impressed by Chang's advice that we should all acquiant ourselves with the different schools of economics - from the Neoclassical to the Behaviouralist via the Keynesian - and use them freely, like a Swiss knife, depending on the needs of the circumstances. This is very encouraging of pluralism, and all good advice. Unfortunately, there are some boring sections that are written in a pedantic and teacher-like manner. This contrasts sharply with some of the more energetic bits of writing, full of wit and fun. Overall, a mixed bag, but probably worth reading if you have any questions about economists. And you should. If you think you don't have any questions, you probably need to read this book all the more! Economics is a tough subject full of easy misconceptions and hidden political agendas. An overview of the general facts and theories becomes a weapon with which to shatter sacred cows.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Yong Hoon

    Excellent

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tammam Aloudat

    Who reads a book about economics on a holiday? I did and I have enjoyed every part of it immensely. Chang makes his book entertaining as one would expect from a novel. This is not to say that this is not the serious work of economy, it just address is a different audience. Those of us who aren't versed in the science and art of economics but still want to learn about it so to navigate our world. I have always struggled to understand what economics are about and I hope the world of finance works. Who reads a book about economics on a holiday? I did and I have enjoyed every part of it immensely. Chang makes his book entertaining as one would expect from a novel. This is not to say that this is not the serious work of economy, it just address is a different audience. Those of us who aren't versed in the science and art of economics but still want to learn about it so to navigate our world. I have always struggled to understand what economics are about and I hope the world of finance works. This has become less of a problem for me after reading the book. The book explains the schools of thought and the applications off economy in our modern world. It goes into a surprising level of detail given how small the book is in reality. And it gives a visit view of what we have governing our world today; money and economic interest. Some of the reviewers gave this book a poor review just because they do not agree with its findings. I must admit that I lean towards Chang's views on economy, his distaste for that new neoliberal view on economics, and his desire for a world that is more just and less governed by corporate interest. That being said, I do not think that the author has injected too much of his opinion into the book. I feel that he was careful enough to put both points of view on almost all matters. I was particularly happy to do either chapter about poverty and inequality as well as the one on labor, work, and unemployment. I highly recommend the book for anyone who wants to know more about the world.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Niall Fitzpatrick

    It's immediately clear the huge effort to make economics accessible for a casual reader. So many books about economics ride the tail of the latest crisis and can be more unhelpful as they espouse a particular solution without reference to wider economic history. It was shocking to read that some economics schools don't teach economic history! Refreshingly this book doesn't favour between the different schools of thought but does offer an overview of how these outlooks developed. The overriding m It's immediately clear the huge effort to make economics accessible for a casual reader. So many books about economics ride the tail of the latest crisis and can be more unhelpful as they espouse a particular solution without reference to wider economic history. It was shocking to read that some economics schools don't teach economic history! Refreshingly this book doesn't favour between the different schools of thought but does offer an overview of how these outlooks developed. The overriding message is that economics on a domestic level is basic commonsense that can be extended to awareness of globalization at a national level. However this is where my review withholds the fifth star, the last chapters about the International Dimension seem rushed and its explanations aren't as well fleshed out as in the rest of the book. An excellent primer though that preaches only awareness.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Praveen

    After 15 years of my graduation in economics i have never read a single book on "History of Economic Thought" I just wanted to brush up my existing knowledge in History of Economics it turned out really good , since in the syllabus which i were thought ...i guess it covered only the thoughts till Milton Friedman and the only crisis which it explains was "Great Depression" no idea whether same has been revised or not because universities in our country are notorious in following age old syllabus.. After 15 years of my graduation in economics i have never read a single book on "History of Economic Thought" I just wanted to brush up my existing knowledge in History of Economics it turned out really good , since in the syllabus which i were thought ...i guess it covered only the thoughts till Milton Friedman and the only crisis which it explains was "Great Depression" no idea whether same has been revised or not because universities in our country are notorious in following age old syllabus... This book is highly recommended for those who want begin with economics or for those who want to refresh with theirs existing knowledge economics history.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dalila.

    I received the book through Goodreads First Reads. Ha-joon Changs "Economics: The User's Guide" is very interesting and a good book it is also very understandable for people like me who are not very familiar with economics After this book, everything will look different. My recommendation

  21. 5 out of 5

    Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin

    I don't like the format of this book. It is like skittering around a webpage. I couldn't get into it. I liked his previous book 23 things they don't tell you about economics but this one is too scattered for me to get into.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Philipp

    Absolutely marvellous overview of where the 'science' of economics is now at - what are the different schools of thoughts, what are the terms, numbers, and statistics we use to measure economics and compare them, what are the drawbacks of each measurement and what are we missing out on, how do we measure inequality and how does that work, it's a very-well written introduction to economics. Economics is a political argument. It is not – and can never be – a science; there are no objective truths i Absolutely marvellous overview of where the 'science' of economics is now at - what are the different schools of thoughts, what are the terms, numbers, and statistics we use to measure economics and compare them, what are the drawbacks of each measurement and what are we missing out on, how do we measure inequality and how does that work, it's a very-well written introduction to economics. Economics is a political argument. It is not – and can never be – a science; there are no objective truths in economics that can be established independently of political, and frequently moral, judgements. Therefore, when faced with an economic argument, you must ask the age-old question ‘Cui bono?’ (Who benefits?), first made famous by the Roman statesman and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero. Chang insists that no economic school (neoclassical, Marxist, etc.) is 'right' or 'wrong', but that instead learning about each school and its drawbacks gives you a toolset to think about any economic conundrum. I'm currently reading Crooked Cucumber, a biography of Shunryu Suzuki who popularised Zen Buddhism in the West, and he has this great and fitting quote on schools of Buddhism which fits here too: 'A single piece of thread is not useful until we make a beautiful cloth with it. So each single school of Buddhism is meaningful as part of the overall religious life.'. Chang is a bit of a sneaky one. He keeps on telling you that he's not trying to tell you what to think, but rather how to think, but he's obviously not a fan of neoliberalism: Markets run according to the ‘one-dollar-one-vote’ rule, while democratic politics run on the principle of ‘one-person-one-vote’. Thus, the proposal for greater depoliticization of the economy in a democracy is in the end an anti-democratic project that wants to give more power in the running of the society to those with more money. There's a lot of interesting stuff on how neoliberalism isn't really a science, but more an ideology which is written to justify power by the rich, points which are echoed in books like David Harvey's A Brief History Of Neoliberalism, or Anand Giridharadas' amazing Winners Take All (reviews for all of those to follow!). But why care about arguments of neoliberalism? Until the 1980s, many people believed that the ‘miracle’ economies of East Asia, such as Japan, Taiwan or Korea, were paragons of free-market policies on the grounds that they had small governments (measured by their budget). However, being small did not mean that these governments were following a laissez-faire approach. During the ‘miracle’ years, they exercised a huge influence on the evolution of their economies through economic planning, regulation and other directive measures. By looking at only the budgetary numbers, people had come to seriously misunderstand the true nature and significance of the government in these countries. Funny enough, I've been dipping in and out of Studwell's How Asia Works, and the above is more or less the central argument of Studwell, too - countries like Japan which put strong controls on farming lands and the economy in the early days after WW2 have all done tremendously well, while countries in the same region with similar starting conditions who haven't exercised strong economic control (i.e., Malaysia) haven't done well. My aim in this book has been to show the reader how to think, not what to think, about the economy. It's not all bashing of neoliberalism like my text suggests, this particular critique makes maybe 5 to 10% of the book - the rest is so interesting! Let me show you: One thing I've been doing more and more during my career as a biologist is to start any answer to a question with 'It depends.'. I've lost all capacity to be definite. The same thing goes for economics - are free trade agreements good? It depends. Are both countries at similar levels of development? Then maybe! Is one country severely under-developed? Then it's likely to lose in the long run, as it does not have a local market to build up its own technologies. And so on. Protectionist policies can be useful, and Chang shows this using the Tudors in the UK, and how their protection of the woollen textile industry laid the foundation for the UK's wealth, contrary to the popular story that the UK is rich because of free trade. Behind every economic policy and corporate action that affects our lives – the minimum wage, outsourcing, social security, food safety, pensions and what not – lies some economic theory that either has inspired those actions or, more frequently, is providing justification of what those in power want to do anyway. Highly recommended if you want to dip your toes into the waters of economics, and you want a critical view at commonly held assumptions.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Breslin

    If I could sum up the entire book with one sentence (and I can and will) it’s this: Economics is not really a science, like physics, but is rather an extension of a personal philosophy, an expression of an opinion or preference, like preferring vanilla over chocolate. Chang stresses that anyone is entitled to such opinions about economics, not just economists, and that non-economists should not be bullied into intellectual submission by their more credentialed disputants. And the opinion of this If I could sum up the entire book with one sentence (and I can and will) it’s this: Economics is not really a science, like physics, but is rather an extension of a personal philosophy, an expression of an opinion or preference, like preferring vanilla over chocolate. Chang stresses that anyone is entitled to such opinions about economics, not just economists, and that non-economists should not be bullied into intellectual submission by their more credentialed disputants. And the opinion of this non-economist is that the vast majority of non-economists who think they understand economics better than economists do are idiots.* Granted: it’s not physics. There is plenty of room for different schools of thought, and the most instructive section of the book provides excellent overviews of those different schools. On the other hand, I get a little weary having conversations about economics with people who have never in their lives read a single economics textbook or a single book by an actual economist. People who, if pressed, could not name five economists (not just five living economists . . . five economists in all history!). Or who are unaware of the most rudimentary economic concepts and terms that are generally accepted by all the schools of thought, like: What is a demand curve? What is meant by “scarcity” and what does that have to do with economics? What does “monetary policy” mean? I’m not an economist any more than I am an expert on French Literature. I know quite a lot more about the former subject though, and so I have some (carefully qualified and hopefully sufficiently humble) opinions there. I have no opinions on French literature, because I have never read French literature, which, incidentally, is also not physics. In contrast to two physicists solving the same physics problem, two different experts on French literature could have entirely different views of the themes expressed in Gargantua and Pantagruel, but it does not follow that the views expressed by someone who has never ever read the book are equally valid. A lot of people who have never in their lives read an actual book about economics and are unfamiliar with even the most basic concepts have strong opinions. They’ll be happy to expound on them and deride people who have spent their entire lives studying the subject.* I find this akin to a professor of French Literature at the Sorbonne being criticized over her widely published paper on the oeuvre of Rabelais by someone who does not know the French word for “the.” This is a great place to start for people who want to understand where the areas of major intellectual disagreements exist in the different schools of economic thought. Another great place to start understanding economics is a Microeconomics 101 textbook. It’s not physics, but it’s a lot closer to it than it is to French literature. * The irony is intentional. Don’t think you’re so clever. **Also, they tend to be really bad at math

  24. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    A concise and sometimes witty overview. Chang's leftist tendency is apparent mostly by contrast to the conservatism running rampant in the world today, an attitude which dismisses the economic success of a county like Norway out-of-hand because it isn't based purely on market-based neoclassical economics. In other words, not American. Because I am an American with an American education and consume American news, I was a little surprised by Chang's holistic approach. Economics considers more than A concise and sometimes witty overview. Chang's leftist tendency is apparent mostly by contrast to the conservatism running rampant in the world today, an attitude which dismisses the economic success of a county like Norway out-of-hand because it isn't based purely on market-based neoclassical economics. In other words, not American. Because I am an American with an American education and consume American news, I was a little surprised by Chang's holistic approach. Economics considers more than just money: a job is not just a means for generating an income, and happiness is a legitimate economic concern. Asset backed securities and collateralized debt obligations play a role in human happiness, especially if they are unregulated and fail in a spectacular way, but the markets alone do not make up the whole of economics. Which is not to say that Chang doesn't cover the basics, because he does, from both an historical and a practical perspective. He just does it in a way that is far more palatable and interesting than I expected.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Barnstone

    Ha - Joon Chang provides an easy to read exploration of many facets of the field of economics. The book gives the reader a basic coverage a wide range of topics including the history or capitalism, the dimensions of international trade, the way we view production, the different schools of economic thought, and the relationship between politics and economics. The book is extraordinarily useful in that with each overview it provides further readings the reader can choose to pursue if they desire - Ha - Joon Chang provides an easy to read exploration of many facets of the field of economics. The book gives the reader a basic coverage a wide range of topics including the history or capitalism, the dimensions of international trade, the way we view production, the different schools of economic thought, and the relationship between politics and economics. The book is extraordinarily useful in that with each overview it provides further readings the reader can choose to pursue if they desire - listed at the end of each chapter. My only criticism of the book is that whilst it attempts to present all economics schools of thought in an unbiased fashion, it allocated a lot of weight in discrediting the neoclassical school and neoliberalism. Granted, I personally don’t agree with free market liberalism, but it is a contradiction in theme nonetheless.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Titus Hjelm

    A brilliant, accessible introduction. I picked this up as an antidote to Sowell's dreadful Basic Economics, and was not disappointed. Chang takes a healthy attitude towards the Neoclassical orthodoxy and shows how we can--and should--think about the economy differently from The Economist magazine and its cheerleaders. The focus is on macroeconomics, which is how it should be, but I would have perhaps liked to see more detailed refutations of the neoliberal micro ideas, or examples of how, for ex A brilliant, accessible introduction. I picked this up as an antidote to Sowell's dreadful Basic Economics, and was not disappointed. Chang takes a healthy attitude towards the Neoclassical orthodoxy and shows how we can--and should--think about the economy differently from The Economist magazine and its cheerleaders. The focus is on macroeconomics, which is how it should be, but I would have perhaps liked to see more detailed refutations of the neoliberal micro ideas, or examples of how, for example, price determination is more complex than textbook neoclassical ideas make it to be. I wasn't also quite sure about the slapstick references to popular culture, but that calmed down after the beginning. Absolutely recommended.

  27. 4 out of 5

    A.K. Kulshreshth

    A engaging work that constantly surprised and educated me. Chang explains differing points of view, acknowledges the failures of economists, admits that the Nobel Prize in economics was started...erm... a bit later than in the other disciplines and makes it a point to challenge a lot of conventional wisdom. It is an important message that economics is too important to be left to "professional" economists. I especially liked the wide-ranging references: from Wodehouse to Borgen, and an interesting A engaging work that constantly surprised and educated me. Chang explains differing points of view, acknowledges the failures of economists, admits that the Nobel Prize in economics was started...erm... a bit later than in the other disciplines and makes it a point to challenge a lot of conventional wisdom. It is an important message that economics is too important to be left to "professional" economists. I especially liked the wide-ranging references: from Wodehouse to Borgen, and an interesting definition of history from a 2006 film that I didn't know about.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emma Sea

    gah, this has to go back to the library and I haven't finished :(

  29. 4 out of 5

    Subvert

    Ended up finishing book even though I was never sure if it was completely worth it for me. I think I expected it something else, something more textbook like. I don´t have a background in economics, but have a strong interest in political economy and been following things since 2008. So there wasn't so much new stuff in it for me somehow. It didn´t go very deep most of the time. Still, especially in the beginning, it was a pleasant read filled with cultural references and I was quickly through a Ended up finishing book even though I was never sure if it was completely worth it for me. I think I expected it something else, something more textbook like. I don´t have a background in economics, but have a strong interest in political economy and been following things since 2008. So there wasn't so much new stuff in it for me somehow. It didn´t go very deep most of the time. Still, especially in the beginning, it was a pleasant read filled with cultural references and I was quickly through a big part of it. Ha-Joon Chang's view on things is quite obvious throughout and there's much criticism of the mainstream economics (neoclassical economics and free-trade propaganda) as was the topic of his previous books (I read 23 things about capitalism years ago). I agree with these criticisms, of course, but for his perspective is still rather mainstream. It's not new for me, and the framework he looks at (while not as limited as neoclassical economics) is still limited. His portrayal of Marxism for example is a bit lame; it's not very deep (but that's understandable considering the scope of the book) and it has the usual clichés about the Khmer rouge etc. I just have this nagging feeling that this criticizer of mainstream economics is usually still bit too mainstream for my taste: glorifying the continental European welfare states etc. I would've liked the inclusion of more radical authors and perspectives, the Further Reading section at the end of each chapter doesn't include any of that for example. It's a bit hard to give examples, but he sometimes doesn't seem to be critical enough of indicators like GDP for example, exaggerating its importance (of how the rich west is still sooo much better off than anywhere else), not including how doing the same stuff without putting an economic transaction value on it would not increase GDP for example. Also, highly exaggerating the working hours of people worldwide, but saying how relatively people are working less and less than before modernization. But really, in pre-industrial societies you simply cannot talk about work-hours the way you can do now. And I also remember research saying that hunter-gatherers only worked 15-20 hours a week for example. Before I forget, the discussion neoclassical economics at one time inspired me a bit. It views individuals as consumers and focuses on market exchange, with free-trade competition leading to the best deals for consumers. I like how Chang highlights how it focuses on consumers rather than producers and how production in general is neglected in mainstream economics. What I miss then, sometimes in these observations, is the discussion on the why behind it. To me, it seems very ideologically convenient for the ruling classes that we view ourselves as consumers (rather than the producers we as workers are that make it all possible). But from what I remember the book misses a bit of a discussion of why one perspective becomes more dominant than another. Looking back in history you can see how the dominant perspective in economics at that time always serves a certain class. It made sense for the rising bourgeoisie in the early 19th century to focus on a labour theory of value (as in the classical school), as that gave the ammunition against the feudal classes - while later on when this bourgeoisie was stable, it made sense to forget about the labour theory of value and portray the working class as consumers rather than producers lest they find out the power than they have. Anyway. The book is still a rather useful summary different economic perspectives and of many indicators that are often referred to in the serious economic/financial press. I never completely understood the Balance of Payments indicators completely, and also the complex financial stuff (derivatives, CDO's etc etc) is explained in a quick and understandable way. Still a useful book for me and probably a world-view shattering one for many that are new to the ideas of Ha-Joon Chang.

  30. 5 out of 5

    lifeofsadnan

    Really good book for noobs like me. Clear arguments, very little jargon, and a good introduction to the mess that is the modern economy. Book summary to follow soon.

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