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funkdaddy's avatar

What's a good primer on "large scale" economics?

Asked by funkdaddy (17772points) December 3rd, 2008

I don’t have a practical immediate use for the information, but I’d like to have a better grasp of what economic changes on a national and global scale actually affect and how. I get the feeling I’m not the only one.

Can you recommend a book, essay, or even a website if it actually goes in depth that could give me the basics in plain language?

I know it’s a lot to sum up in one source, but I’m not looking to get into global banking, or even finance, just educate myself.


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7 Answers

LostInParadise's avatar

I do not mean to be cynical, but just now I am feeling skeptical of any economic theory. No economist predicted the current crisis and when it started everybody underestimated the severity. Alan Greenspan recently said that in effect all the old rules no longer apply. We have just been told that we are officially in a recession, which all us non-economists had no problem figuring out on our own. Now all the economists are saying that things will get back to normal next year, which I would like to believe, but given their track record, why should I trust anything that they say?

funkdaddy's avatar

@LostInParadise – I’m going to go all Nostradamus on you and predict the economy will get better, then bad again in about 10–15 years. I haven’t studied it enough to know for sure, but it appears to be a cycle. You heard it here first.

I think anyone who took a look at all the money flying around, home prices skyrocketing, and companies being bought outright without a product or plan for profits could have said there was going to be some sort of down turn. It has probably been more pronounced than anticipated but folks with experience and an interest in predicting the future knew to lock things up a while ago. Everyone’s advice seems to be the same, if you still have money now, buy. Not just ‘the market’, but whatever your cup of tea is, if prices are low, it’s a good time.

What I’m really looking for is a better understanding of how the changes you hear about on the news; interest rates, people saving/spending their money, higher/lower debt for individuals and the country, really affect things and why. I don’t understand how $600 in everyone’s pocket was supposed to stimulate the economy, but a lot of people thought it was a very good idea. I don’t understand how banks borrow from a central pot that doesn’t seem to really have any actual money in it and then lend that same money out for profit. How does currency exchange work? Why is the dollar ‘weak’?

I’d just like to have a better understanding, I don’t expect to magically know what’s going to happen but I’d at least like to understand the terms and the reasoning behind certain moves.

omph's avatar

One of the best intro books I have read is Principles of Economics by N. Gregory Mankiw. It is a textbook but it is easy for a novice to understand. It looks like Amazon has used copies for around 20$. It is well worth it. And micro is interesting too.

After reading it you will easily be able to understand 95% of what you read about in the newspapers and on the Internet.

critter1982's avatar

Understanding the World Economy

This read is much less dreadful than a textbook.

omph's avatar

From the pages I was allowed to read on Amazon the book appears to have an agenda. And you will claim the textbook I linked to is latte liberal crap with an agenda. So OK.

critter1982's avatar

Good luck finding a book without much of a bias. Take the book at face value, as it still gives funkdaddy the information he wants.

Mizuki's avatar

Here is a great blog I’ve been reading for years.

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