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The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, And the Radical Remaking of Economics
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The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, And the Radical Remaking of Economics

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  948 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
Over 6.4 billion people participate in a $36.5 trillion global economy, designed and overseen by no one. How did this marvel of self-organized complexity evolve? How is wealth created within this system? And how can wealth be increased for the benefit of individuals, businesses, and society? In The Origin of Wealth, Eric D. Beinhocker argues that modern science provides a ...more
Hardcover, 527 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published 2006)
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When I was studying engineering at University one of the subjects we had to have an overview of was economics. I wanted the read this book because to me at the time the traditional macro economics theory just didn’t make sense – too many assumptions that were self evidently wrong, and I wanted a more up to date perspective. This book, I was pleased to discover, not only explained traditional economic theories in detail but also agreed that there are basic flaws in this traditional macro economic ...more
May 02, 2010 Kristin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About 5 years after finishing college, I started to feel that there was a major, glaring deficiency in my liberal arts education. As a young, naive, and somewhat annoying undergraduate, I had a deep and mostly indefensible aversion to the idea of taking an economics class. It's all a bunch of B.S., I thought--and whatever isn't B.S. would certainly offend my pale pink sensibilities at the time. I managed to get by without having to take one. However, as I got to be a little older, I starting to ...more
May 11, 2011 Jonas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part I starts out with a nice overview of the development of "traditional economics" since Adam Smith. The characterization of the work of Walras as a "false turn", importing physics metaphors into economics, is particularly striking. The physics framework was maintained until well after WWII with the neoclassical synthesis, while 20th century physics had already moved away from its deterministic 19th century predecessor. Chapter 3 talks about the work at the Santa Fe Institute (SFI), where comp ...more
dh Lee
Aug 14, 2011 dh Lee rated it really liked it
Another eye-opening book.

I've read circa one fifth of the book and the stuff in the part was enough to break down all the stereotypes and misconceptions that I had, partly due to the conventional education of economics- I am an economics major.

Still yet, of the things argued by the author there are some that I cannot fully understand or know whether the argument is true or not. One of them is this ;

Economics activity is firmly rooted in the real, physical world, and thus economics theory cann
Tadas Talaikis
Jan 15, 2017 Tadas Talaikis rated it it was amazing
I just saw some seminar notes about it. Finally, that book I had heard few years ago, about the end of left and right nonsense, - complex rational realism.
Jonathan Jeckell
I went through a ridiculous number of highlighters and tape flags marking this book. It provided a fascinating look at how theorists are bringing economics into the 20th Century. Existing economics models borrowed from physics, and thermodynamics in particular, most notably with the concept of equilibrium. This book shows how the economy (and much else) are not so simple, but follow rules found in complex adaptive systems and evolution. Moreover, it provided some fascinating insights into organi ...more
Jerry Ward
May 12, 2013 Jerry Ward rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the seriously interested in economics
I can’t recall having ever read an author with the clarity of exposition and the depth and breadth of erudition that is demonstrated by Dr. Beinhocker in this book. It is an impressive work.

The opening sentence of the book asserts that “the field of economics is going through its most profound change in more than a hundred years.” Since much of the book directly addresses and analyzes that change and its implications, I think the book could have more accurately been entitled The Evolution of Ec
Nov 05, 2011 Don rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-society
Beinhocker tells us that there is a revolution in the making in the world of economics. The orthodoxies of the equilibrium models have long since ceased to tell the truth about the way markets work. Not only are they not able to render a proper account of the reasons why they periodically fail, but also what is positive about them in the sense of what they do well.

The book tells a good story of what economics attempts to be as a science and the tools it has developed to fulfil its mission. Right
Juan Pablo
I've been meaning to thoroughly destroy economics for some time now and after finishing this book, I'm saying to myself "Heck, maybe I will if only for its necessary rebirth."

I studied econ back in college and the more I learned, the more painfully I experienced the disparity between reality and the "science" most powerfully endowed to observe and prescribe the measures for our understanding of human and societal interaction. Let me clear up the "": economics became over a hundred years a powerf
Nov 25, 2008 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first 85% of this book was worthy of a 5 star rating and one of the most interesting books I've ever read. His analysis and linkage between Evolutionary Theory and the Economy was compelling. It provides us with a whole new lens to see the economy through and Benhocker's ideas of complex adaptive and open systems, I believe, to be extremely relevant. The case he makes against Neo-classical economic theory is long overdue. As Beinhocker makes clear at the opening of the book "Origin of Wealth ...more
Saku Mantere
Feb 16, 2014 Saku Mantere rated it liked it
I am deeply ambivalent about this book. On the one hand, it is a splendidly written introduction to the limitations in classical economics. It is also a great intro to complexity theory. Yet, in its insistence that complexity is a theory for everything (from doing firm strategy to transcending the left-right dichotomy in politics), the book's main argument is trivialized and becomes almost ridiculous.
Anup Gampa
Nov 27, 2015 Anup Gampa rated it did not like it
I didn't have the advantage of Marx's theory when I read this book, but I enjoyed it. I might like it a lot more now!
Kristian Köhntopp
Sep 08, 2016 Kristian Köhntopp rated it it was amazing
Zur Zeit lese ich gerade The Origin Of Wealth, ein Buch, das dem Namen nach über Volkswirtschaft ist. Es beginnt aber mit einer Tour durch die Wirtschaftstheorie und einer Kritik derselben, um sich dann erst einmal dem Thema zellulare Automaten zuzuwenden und über verschiedene Simulationsexperimente mit agentenbasierten verteilten Systemen diskutieren. Der Autor,, zeigt dann, wie solche Systeme dieselben Ergebnisse ...more
Jul 10, 2016 Nico rated it really liked it
I recently read an online article that compared the accuracy of a variety of online weather services and apps for the weather of the USA and the top weather app scored and overall accuracy rate of 75% of its 24 hour weather predictions for the previous year in the USA.

Which firstly is an amazing technological feat but which lead me to the question why are models and algorithms starting to be so good at predicting such a complex system as the global weather system but there are no algorithms that
Jun 07, 2016 Saurabh rated it really liked it
As a student of science and engineering, I never seriously thought of economics as a science due to an inherent belief I had in college that economics naturally has to do with human affairs and since human behaviour can, many a time, take excursions into irrationality, modelling it would be a futile exercise. After all, natural systems and engineered systems with inanimate things could be expected to be rational although uncertain due to stochastics in the environments where they exist.

So I star
Scott Shepard
Mar 29, 2012 Scott Shepard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a stunning book. Beinhocker amasses a wealth of information (pun intended) into a relatively short, easy to read paperback. He addresses the failures of Traditional Economic theory and makes a passionate argument for why we need to change our textbooks and views to fit more modern "complexity" economic theory. The things I found most interesting were the history and development of traditional theory, the wide use of computers to model economic behavior in startling ways (sugarscape) and ...more
Jul 20, 2009 E rated it it was amazing
Thought-provoking economic theory exposition

In this massive, erudite book, Eric D. Beinhocker offers a history of economics, and an informative discussion of the scientific basis and shortcomings of conventional economic wisdom. He is strongest as he explains the steadily diminishing scientific credibility of “Traditional Economics,” and offers “Complexity Economics” as a more useful theory. He says it better accounts for changeable, evolving markets with irrational actors, dynamic networks and
Cary Neeper
Jan 04, 2013 Cary Neeper rated it really liked it
A great idea, finally presenting economics as the extremely complex system it is. Beinhocker does a thorough job of suggesting how businesses and economists could complex principles to revamp their thinking and make a few more realistic assumptions. However, the author seems to be stuck in the old paradigm that growth is essential for economic health. We know now that growth costs more than it's worth. That's why I am backing Dietz and O'Neill's Enough Is Enough and using my own fiction to model ...more
May 08, 2008 Jonathan rated it really liked it
Shelves: have, economics
This book took me two years to get through, but I found it incredibly interesting. The book discusses traditional economic models and proposes an alternative view or economies in general: that they behave like evolutionary systems.

The business act as the organisms, the business plans the DNA, and the economy provides the environment to determine fitness.

Well worth the read if you like economics, though a bit long. He touches on a wide range of issues and why traditional economic theories can d
Oct 24, 2015 Parnell rated it really liked it
I think this was an excellent book, laid out well to guide the reader through what traditional economics is, what's wrong with it, and a meandering but descriptive transition into what complexity economics is.

The author then weaves evolution's role into the theory quite well.

l felt like the discussion of the interplay between politics and economics was too short and could have deserved another section or another book.

The typography was mediocre, paper selection was poor, but the ideas and presen
Henri Tournyol du Clos
Dec 26, 2013 Henri Tournyol du Clos rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
This is a deeply flawed book, which starts by building a straw man representing consensus economic thinking and then unfairly abuses it at length, before ending up preaching management BS. Yet, in-between, it is an important one: having read it, I stopped teaching introductory economics to graduate students the way I did before. It provides a powerful intellectual framework for teaching both the innate limitations of economic modelling and why there is no viable alternative. The 16 or so pages d ...more
May 13, 2008 Sanjay rated it it was amazing
Even if you're not into economics this book is still an amazing read. It explains how economics actually works in terms of human psychology and evolutionary theory. There is nothing in this book that is too technically difficult to understand and the range of topics is wide and relevant to everyone's everyday life. I really think this book should be required for all high school and college students, that's how good it is.
Aug 14, 2008 Lee rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book! It's an academic read, but the scope and depth makes it intriguing enough. The author doesn't talk down to the reader (although I'm not an economist), but there are a lot of footnotes and such. Also, as footnotes go, they're printed smaller, so 70 pp of footnotes may actually be 200 of normal 11pt've been warned. But highly recommended for the inquisitive mind!
Apr 14, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: world
About half way through. As of now, he has aptly distilled a few hundred of years of the evolution of economic thought, and begun to present a tantalizing application of complexity science to economics. I picked the book up on the strength of the topic and the reviews, despite the author's lack of bonafides. I have not been disappointed. This book is light years beyond the standard unorthodox economics fare and has much to offer. I'll post more later.
Jan 04, 2009 Craig added it
An amazing book. A friend recommended this to me as "the book people should have been reading when they read the Black Swan". I could not agree more. It uses principles of evolutionary biology, computer science, and physics to explain how economic systems and business management systems evolve. Meanwhile, it touches on why black swan events happen and shows the flaws with modern portfolio theory and economics. A very good read.
Sven Kämmerer
Jun 01, 2016 Sven Kämmerer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finance, non-fiction
Exhilarating read. Compelling argument against Traditional Economics. The book convincingly shows that much of what I learned in Business School on the topics of Micro and Macro Economics as well as Finance is utterly wrong. I wish I had read the book during Business School time - it surely would have made for some interesting discussions with my professors.
Simon Hampton
Aug 08, 2011 Simon Hampton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good analysis of limitations of traditional economics, but the best section was the description of the numerical models that initiated evolutionary economics. And then, all of a sudden, it became a management book for 100 pages! Some good discussion about future research at the end, but ultimately the theory looks to be poorly developed mathematically.
Ahmed Qadir
Dec 09, 2014 Ahmed Qadir rated it it was amazing
The historical development of economics and why the land-labour-capital concept is outdated. Extensively footnoted and very well written. Everybody will learn something from this one, regardless of whether they are casual observers of economic trends or more academically inclined towards the subject. One of the best books of 2006, it's still as fresh and relevant today.
Feb 08, 2008 Dsanford rated it really liked it
Should have waited for the paperback - for as far as I've gotten. There is a revolution occurring in Economics that is based on understanding innovation as it relates to what rewards it and how it changes growth - from an economic perspective - it is not an externality! Still trying to figure this stuff out.
Antonis Kastor
Jun 07, 2015 Antonis Kastor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics, e-book
Ρegardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with the views of the book (personally i agree with most of them), I believe it is a must read for economists, social scientist, businessmen and politicians and of course for everyone who wants to grasp how the world works from socioeconomic perspective.
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Why am I reading this book? 1 14 May 29, 2013 03:51PM  
Goodreads Authors...: Book Review 2 162 May 13, 2013 02:04PM  
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