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Butterfly Economics: A New General Theory of Social and Economic Behavior
by Paul Ormerod
Why did VHS, an inferior video recording technology, succeed in the marketplace, driving the superior Betamax out of business? Why do big-budget, acclaimed movies sometimes flop at the box office, while low-budget, idiosyncratic films become huge hits? The answers to these questions, says Paul Omerod, remind us that economics is a science based on the workings of human soc ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published May 23rd 2012 by Pantheon
(first published January 1st 1998)
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Butterfly Economics is an interesting book that introduces the theories and thoughts of Ormerod on economic behavior. His entire first chapter is dedicated to an experiment involving communication between ant which he converts to an elegant theory of interacting agents that stock investors should heed. Using economic and stock market data from the past century, Ormerod's braided new ideas combine the disciplines of psychology and economics to describe how the behavior of humans affects those aro ...more
It would be tough for me to recommend this book, although it had some interesting observations. The basic premise is that contrary to the treatment of consumers in classical economics, consumersâ preferences are not fixed and that consumers interact in ways that modify preferences (thus, in effect, changing a price vs. demand curve). Of course! Actually, "Tipping Point" makes the same point much more clearly and much more substantively. The analogy that he makes to antsâ choosing between two ide ...more
This book started out interestingly enough with the little morsal of simile that the economy is like an ant colony and preceded to explain a study about ants going to seperate, but equal piles of food and why that is like business cycles. Now that doesn't sound that interesting when I explain it, but it is an eyebrow raiser in the book. Well it goes on and by the late second half of the book I found myself wishing for the end and skimming. Taking a line from another review, it gets a little bori ...more
It seems I'm heading backwards through Ormerod's books so there was a little repetition for me but this proved another decent dismantling of some economic shibboleths, seemingly nudging the reader towards a more rational economic approach.
A bit hard to get through, but had some good ideas. Reading it in 2013, not 1998 has benefits and drawbacks. The chapters with tons of scatter-plot graphs weren't my thing, but if you're really hardcore into math, you will like it.
Paul Ormerod was the head of the Economic Assessment Unit at The Economist and the director of economics at the Henley Centre for Forecasting in England. He has taught economics at the universities of London and Manchester, and was a founder of the consulting firm Volterra. He lives in London.More about Paul Ormerod...