Economics and Economists @ BYOB Party in October 2019 (Part 3)

Fasih spoke about probably the only book he’s seen that makes economics appealing The Undercover Economist

“This book is less theory and more anecdotal. Tim Harford is an economist, journalist and podcaster. He likes to look at the big picture. So he takes you through the simple consumerist act of buying a cup of coffee and then he asks you where the money goes. How much does the barista make? What drives the costs of running the cafe? What kind of information do you convey when you buy a cost-effective cuppa or a pricey latte?

“He then moves onto the economics of supermarket displays. Have you ever thought about why an organically grown lemon is never kept side by side with the regular lemon? It’s obvious- it’s not economically viable to keep two highly differing rates together.”

So Harford talks about the Mafia, immigration, China’s economic revolution and makes us think about how each of our financial decisions creates an impact in the world.

“You might want to check out the second part of the book too The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run–or Ruin–an Economy He talks about the ideal economist as man of the world. Check why economists should be more like plumbers.”

Jaya continued the economics discussion with the book called  The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers by Robert L. Heilbroner. Economists like philosophers frame their principles based on the times they live in. The book gives you insight into the lives of economic thinkers from Adam Smith to Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes. Through their ideas, the book makes an attempt to understand the workings of a capitalist society.

“The book is good for an overall understanding of economics. Why does economics start with Adam Smith? Until capitalism came into being, there was no need for any economic theory. The monarch called the shots. Economics came from making sense of society and society came into the picture when capitalism came into being.  This was a revelation to me. Initially, we had philosophers; now we have worldly philosophers. The book puts things in a historical perspective and for that reason I recommend it.”

Other books about economics? The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000 by Niall Ferguson and Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt (or the Chetan Bhagat version of economics as one reader said) are good places to start. The economic discussion ended with the well-intentioned but problematic Midday Meal scheme. You can read about it here.

More books in Part 4.