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Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations: A Story of Economic Discovery
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Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations: A Story of Economic Discovery

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  145 ratings  ·  15 reviews
A stimulating and inviting tour of modern economics centered on the story of one of its most important breakthroughs.

In 1980, the twenty-four-year-old graduate student Paul Romer tackled one of the oldest puzzles in economics. Eight years later he solved it. This book tells the story of what has come to be called the new growth theory: the paradox identified by Adam Smith
Hardcover, 410 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by W. W. Norton (first published 2006)
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Ignacio De leon
Excellent book that gives a historical account of the evolution of economic thinking through Kuhnian "paradigms": one of equilibrium (neoclassical) and one of evolutionary progress. Conventional neoclassical economics has a hard time explaining innovation, and the production of wealth; this is clearly understood if one realizes how David Ricardo's misled emphasis on equilibrium and economic modelling "purity", sent economic science into a scientific "path dependence" that constrained queries abo ...more
Oct 26, 2007 Vikas marked it as to-read

In October 1990, Paul Romer, a 36-year-old University of Chicago economist, published a 32-page article, ‘Endogenous technological change’ in the Journal of Political Economy. Now, here is a whole book about that paper: Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations by David Warsh ( ).

The first paragraph of Romer’s paper had this sentence: “The distinguishing feature of… technology as an input is that it is neither a conventional good nor a public good; it is a non-rival, partially
Jul 11, 2007 Raf rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: nerd
I was really into this book as I was reading it, and it exposed me to ideas that have really changed the way I look at things.

For instance, the idea of prizes as incentives for invention working well (like $10B or however much for the cure for malaria), and the importance not only of technology, but also regulations and infrastructure on economic growth.

Also, I had never read any of those urban theory (e.g. Jane Jacobs) books, so the idea of the persistence of diverse cities over non-diverse (
Jun 26, 2008 David rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: economics majors
This is a pretty good read in two halves. The first is kind of a breezy history of economic thought from Smith going forward, including some dichotomies about specialization and increasing returns. The second is sort of soap operaish stuff from the economic profession talking about the evolution this notion of "endogenous" growth.

Some interesting stuff in here. The story of anti-Semitism pushing Milton Friedman getting run out of University of Wisconsin was kind of interesting.
Hard to believe, but Warsh, a journalist, really makes the stories of economists and their theories -- and arguments -- come alive. Truly a good story well told. I learned much about economists whose economics I knew -- Lester Thurow, Paul Krugman, Milton Friedman, John Maynard Keynes, etc. -- but knew nothing about the men (and a few women). Especially good on sorting out the theoretical roots of the more popular economists of our current times.
Knowledge and the Wealth Of Nations is a difficult book to read because it is highly philosophical in trying to explain how knowledge is the base of the assets that nations have. It is difficult because it leaves so many questions unanswered; such as what is exactly what they understand by knowledge and more important; how is it storaged so it can count as part of the wealth of a nation.
Lynne Williamson
I learned that economists need to get out into the real world, the neighborhood right outside their doors, to find out how real people, not mathematical symbols, react. There is a key factor missing in econometrics, and we don't know enough yet about the human brain to make accurate predictions with that "unknown" in the formulas.
Arolyn Williams
This is the last book I expected to be a page turner, but Warsh made the excitement of economic history and discovery very real. Although some of the things were out of my grasp -infinite dimensional spreadsheets for example - it didn't seem to matter or affect my overall understanding of the book. Yay for the dismal science!
Interesting concept, but the concepts are too complex and not explained well enough to really allow the reader to appreciate the developments in economic theory the author is trying to detail. I did learn more about the world of academic economics...but who cares?
A book about Economics and the Economics profession. Outlines the development of a theory of how knowledge and invention lead to Economic growth, and the modern world that we live in. Great for anyone who has taken at least some undergraduate economics.
Vikesh Koul
Brings the work of Paul Romer and other economists to life. An interesting book to read.
Traces an invisible college behind a body of work and how paradigm shifts take place..
Another on the revolution occurring in Economics
Vip Vinyaratn
interesting story indeed
did not finish it.
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