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Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  7,232 ratings  ·  614 reviews
Finally! A book about economics that won’t put you to sleep. In fact, you won’t be able to put this bestseller down. In our challenging economic climate, this perennial favorite of students and general readers is more than a good read, it’s a necessary investment—with a blessedly sure rate of return. Demystifying buzzwords, laying bare the truths behind oft-quoted numbers, ...more
ebook, 354 pages
Published April 19th 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2002)
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A highly ideological piece masquerading as a non-controversial introduction to economics. Wheelan proclaims that economics is amoral and apolitical, and then goes on to give very detailed political descriptions about what government should be. He also seems attached to the false dichotomy of 'free' markets vs. communist state economies - though he does recognize that the neoconservative vision that markets will operate efficiently without government is, as he puts it, 'nonsense.'

I wanted to rea
Why did the chicken cross the road? To maximize his utility!

If you like this joke as much as I do, congratulations! You're an uber-nerd, and this is the perfect book for you. If you don't like the joke, stay away from my parties. Either way, this book is a very thorough, very clear explanation of a good foundation of economic principles, written with the non-Economists among us in mind. Why are tariffs bad? In what ways are sweatshops good? Why does everyone care so much about interest rates, an
Hajar Alobaid

يتطرّق الكتاب إلى بعض من أكثر المفاهيم تأثيراً في الاقتصاد ، و لكنه يُبسّط الرواسخ المعقّدة أو يتخطّاها بالكامل . يُغطي كل فصل موضوعات يمكن أن تؤلف في كل منها كتاباً كاملاً .

ثمّة نقاط ثانويّة في كل فصلٍ تُشكل كل منها الآن حياة مهنيّة أكاديميّة كاملة . لايحتاج المرء أن يتكبّد العناء لكي يُدرك عظمة شئٍ ما ،
فهذا الكتاب غير موجّه لمحدودي الفهم بل موجّه للأذكياء ممن لم يدرسوا الاقتصاد من قبل . إن معظم الأفكار المهمّة التي يقوم عليها علم الاقتصاد تستتر خلف مجموعة من الأغطية التي تنطوي على كثيرٍ من
Jul 08, 2007 Carl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to feel smarter
"Charles Wheelan Tells It Like It Is" would be an equally appropriate title for this fucking awesome overview on all things economic in this world. As someone who's read more than a few of the popular economics books currently glutting the market, and as a economics major in college, I was skeptical that this book could teach me anything I didn't already know or entertain me with wry anecdotes. What surprised me was actually that: the wry anecdotes and useful explanations such as what "fast-trac ...more
Dan Phillips
When I got into the second half of this book, I was joking with Amy that the experience was threatening to turn me into a Republican. Which was especially odd since the beginning chapters made me realize instantly how politically agnostic the actual science of economics is. Like any discipline, it's just another framework through which one can view -- and hopefully understand -- the world. (And there are plenty of lefty economists out there -- I subscribe to Paul Krugman's blog already, so...)

Apart from news articles, the last time I read any book on economics was high school. I found Naked Economics explained how Western (primarily US) economic systems worked in very simple, easy to understand language. Particularly in these troubled times, learning how the Federal Reserve and other government agencies try to tweak the economy to encourage fairness and stability. He is unabashedly pro-trade and explains his stance well, which helped me to understand it, though I can't say he address ...more
Billie Pritchett
UPDATE (06/08/13):
I reread Charles Wheelan's Naked Economics, revisiting it now about four years later. It is still one of my favorite books, but I do have a more modest perspective of it now. I'll try to provide a better summary of Wheelan's book than I did four years ago.

A market economy is really just a name for the transaction of buying and selling goods and services, and the scarcer the goods and services and the more demand, the more people are willing to pay for them. This explains in par
Great primer on the often dull world of economics. No charts, calculus, or arcane math, lots of good examples of problems and issues that we all are affected by but don't have much understanding of. Things like the Fed, interest rates, trade balances, taxes, etc are covered and made easy to process. My biggest problem is the lack of discussion of things like outsourcing, debt, and currency issues and how they are actually affecting our economy. I'd like to see a book that is not so theoretical o ...more
Ahmed Hamdan
مع دراستي لمادة الاقتصاد الجزئي هذا الفصل في الجامعة ، عزمت على تخصيص جزء اكبر للقرآءة في الاقتصاد و المال كضربة استباقية لهذه المادة الدسمة التي يسأم من دراستها الطلاب ، و سعياً لفهم أفضل في المجال الذي أرى نفسي فيه ، فكانت البداية بهذا الكتاب.

"الاقتصاد عارياً" .. عنوان ملفت و يوحي بالبساطة في الشرح و التناول ، وهو كذلك إلى حد بعيد. قد تكون تلك مزية هذا الكتاب البارزة ، و لكنها في الوقت ذاته عيبه الذي يفضي إلى عدم اكتمال صورة المفاهيم الاقتصادية في ذهن القارئ و التي في كثير من الاحيان تحتاج إلى
If you are interested in learning about economics but find the topic somewhat confusing and boring, this book breaks down the major concepts in a way that makes it interesting and understandable. Wheelan is a witty and sarcastic man which added greatly to his stories and real life examples he used when supporting topics within economics. I am highly interested in developmental economics and his chapter on this topic broke down common misconceptions that people may have about developing countries ...more
Aug 14, 2009 Adam rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who buy things, Anti-capitalists, Kim Jong-Il, College Students, Irrational people
Recommended to Adam by: Nate
Grabbed this one from a friend, Nate, who kept a hold of it long after his Econ 101 course and, well, I'm glad he did!

Wheelan starts of by addressing the fact that many students who are forced to take Econ 101, or even do so by choice, are instantly turned away from the subject by dry texts, boring teachers and a heavy dependence on the mathematical aspects of the science.

In Naked Economics, Wheelan promises to not only offer a broad overview of this overlooked science but do so in turn without
يوسف زهدى
A good piece of work! either its your first time to read about economics, or you did read about it before or even if you are advanced with economics (like i expect myself) you'll still find the book beneficial and enjoyable.

The book is divided to 12 chapters each addressing one economic issue, starting by most common issues we see at our daily life to country level economics and linking its different variables, then integrating most of them in the last chapter through discussing factors of devel
Faiza Ahmed
كتاب اقتصادي لكن بااسلوب بسيط وسلسل..كيف لمدينة مثل شيكاغو أن تجمع بين النقائض في نفس اللحظة التي يشتري فيها أحد الاثرياء كيكة عيد ميلاد حيوانه الاليف " الكلب" لتجد في الجهة المقابلة الالاف المشردين والذين هم بلا مأوى..الكاتب غالبا يمجد الرأسمالية ويشيد بالفوائد الجمة التي جلبتها الرأسمالية للعالم..بالاضافة الى شرح عن خطر رفع الضرائب والتقليل من الانفاق الحكومي مستندا إلى دراسات علماء الاقتصاد في أمريكا..أكثر جزئية عجبتني في الكتاب كانت تلك الجزئية التي تتحدث عن الرأس المالي البشري..جاري بيكر-ال ...more
Garima Mamgain
One of the best books on macro economics I have read. The author has very clear preferences and thoughts. I may or may not agree with all of them but loved his practical way of explaining economics. Must read!
Ali Gilani
The book is an interesting primer on economics. It is no doubt ideological but the author has given strong arguments for the ideological position he has taken. The book, however, is limited as it is only good for understanding market based economy. It doesn't shed light on feudalism and tribal societies economics and the complex socio-political and economic relations such societies wield. Apart from such limitations, the book convincingly give arguments for free trade, globalization and market b ...more
I would like to give this book about 3.5 stars. This is a book designed to present the topic of economics to people who would not otherwise be that interested in it, and give them an introduction to core concepts that are necessary for general economic discussion. In some ways, it did accomplish that, but it had some shortcomings. It touched upon a lot of interaction between the government and economics, and had a more free market view than I anticipated. The emphasis was more on the number of e ...more
Economics has never been "my thing." I have never understood the way the economy runs in our country, or in the world. This book is great because there is no math or tables to study. It is a simple course, explaining the in's and out's of why global trade is good, why "creative destruction" for small businesses has to happen for the greater good of the economy, why real estate agents will move a seller's house quicker for less money than waiting for more money and a greater percentage, why "huma ...more
Eliot St. John
This is the best non-technical introduction to macroeconomics that I've found thus far. Wheelan explains the concepts clearly and in a fairly entertaining manner. Granted, I already have an undergraduate degree in economics, so I don't necessarily represent the target demographic for this book, but it'll be the first I recommend to anyone who wants to understand why I'm still in school.

It looks like many of the negative reviews here are from leftists complaining that the author has a rightward/
This was required reading for my microeconomics class, but I wish someone would have made me read it earlier. It provides a wonderfully simple and humorous and useful look at economics. Is it always a bad thing when the price of gas skyrockets? Not really. Is it a shame that some people work in sweatshops in China while trial lawyers here in the States earn $400? Maybe, but there are a lot of global benefits from those sweatshops. I could go on and on about all the great topics covered in this b ...more
Insufferably smug on some sensitive topics

Although I found myself nodding in agreement at some points, there were others where I wanted to find a desk to bang my head against, for example the part on globalization. The author claims, not without merit, that it is simplistic and counterproductive to view Third World labor as little better than slavery. But he seems to think instead that Third World labor is little worse than capitalism itself, another viewpoint that is simplistic and problematic.
The greatest favor/disservice Wheelan did for me in Naked Economics was to make me feel competent enough to discuss and critique world situations from a macroeconomic perspective. This has done wonders for my confidence and investment in current affairs, but I feel sorry for anyone with real economic credentials who speaks with me in the future and has to listen to opinions based on my simplistic understanding of utility, demand curves, or inflation. I recommend this to anyone who wants to under ...more
Another book that Eric had to read for a class. I really liked it. Never read a book on econ before, but it was interesting. What I learned most from the book (not that I didn't know it before) was how important education is. I loved the analogy that it was better for a society to have a whole bunch of PhD educated people. So, who is the garbage man? Well, the salary would rise until someone thought it was a good enough salary to give up his PhD salary and job and become a garbage man. The socie ...more
Iyad Al Aqel
As claimed by the author "A book about economics that won't put you to sleep"
If you have never read about economics before or if you dont understand economics fundamentals like taxes , incentives , government roles ..etc this book would be very beneficial and enjoyable for you.
I'm skeptical on whether this is a good introductory economics book since it has some vague business terms that are hard to grasp from the context but its definitely worth the time and enjoyable.
Mostly an excellent introduction to Economics, as far as I can tell, but at times Wheelan deviates from pop-education to championing the free-market as capable of solving all the world's problems gradually, including the ones it creates. His defence of the megarich is a little suspect, with that old platitude about how when the water rises, all boats are floating higher no matter how little they are- the problem with that image is that more water, following this metaphor, will create bigger stor ...more
James Millikan
If you are like me, you have a vague sinking feeling from not having the gumption to pick up, let alone complete, Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century. You know somewhere deep down inside that an impressive tome by an erudite French economist would be just the ticket to help you thoughtfully contribute to the conversation at that gathering of MBAs, or progressives, or rich relatives that you somehow find yourself attending over the year. But you also know that, given the choice b ...more
The "naked" in Naked Economics refers to the book's lack of charts, statistics, or equations. Ostensibly, this makes economics more accessible. It was a textbook for an "Economics 101" class I took ten years ago, and it reads like one. It was surprising to me how much economic theory I more-or-less osmosed in the intervening time. As an adult who budgets a household and is politically active, not much of what was written here surprises me.

However, there's still a lot of good information, partic
Samah Khuzaei
كتاب جميل وسهل الهضم لغير الاقتصاديين وإن لم أكن أتحدث خارج اختصاصي لقلت للاقتصاديين أيضاً، يطرح قضايا ومشكلات اقتصادية بشكل اجتماعي وحتى سياسي ساخر وممتع، ولكني فقدت الاهتمام بالقراءة عند آخر فصلين لتركيزهما واسهابهما في الحديث عن الضرائب وكل مايتعلق بها، وكوني أعيش في ظل اقتصاد "لا ضرائبي" لم استمتع بقراءة هذه الفصول أو ربما لم أرَ الفائدة التي سأجنيها من قراءتها غير مجرد العلم بالشيء. أنصح جداً بقراءته.
Mark Lawry
Some people believe that economists don’t agree on concepts in economics (AKA people who don’t read about economics.) Wheelan points out this would be similar to not wanting to read about medicine because doctors (who all went to med school and agree on concepts in medicine) don’t agree on treatment. It would still be of great value to read about the arguments doctors use while they debate about agreed upon facts. He gives great illustrations in an entertaining way of many concepts in economics. ...more
Chase Gregory
This book is very clear on the topics it brings forth. Such as that trying to close sweatshops will only cause the workers to have no money. There isn't a gun being pointed to the workers head forcing them to work there. As a High School student taking AP Economics, this book gives great insight into globalization and how contrary to popular belief, outsourcing benefits everyone. I had to read a few small sections of the book and decided to read the entirety of it. It's not like a textbook that' ...more
Ahmed Mansour
الكتاب رائع وفكرته جديده وطلبه اقتصاد لو درسوه بجانب التحليل الجزئي والكلي هيحل ليهم مشاكل في الفهم كتير

عيبه من وجهة نظري في 3 حاجات

اولا عنوانه كان المفروض يكون
how American economy works.

ثانيا عدم اجود اي اطار مفاهبمي للكتاب

ثالثا تبني اراء بل والدفاع المستميت عن مدرسة شيكاغو(اليبراليه الجديدة)
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Must have book! 2 27 Aug 30, 2013 10:48PM  
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“When I applied to graduate school many years ago, I wrote an essay expressing my puzzlement at how a country that could put a man on the moon could still have people sleeping on the streets. Part of that problem is political will; we could take a lot of people off the streets tomorrow if we made it a national priority. But I have also come to realize that NASA had it easy. Rockets conform to the unchanging laws of physics. We know where the moon will be at a given time; we know precisely how fast a spacecraft will enter or exist the earth's orbit. If we get the equations right, the rocket will land where it is supposed to--always. Human beings are more complex than that. A recovering drug addict does not behave as predictably as a rocket in orbit. We don't have a formula for persuading a sixteen-year-old not to drop out of school. But we do have a powerful tool: We know that people seek to make themselves better off, however they may define that. Our best hope for improving the human condition is to understand why we act the way we do and then plan accordingly. Programs, organizations, and systems work better when they get the incentives right. It is like rowing downstream.” 20 likes
“A market economy is to economics what democracy is to government: a decent, if flawed, choice among many bad alternatives.” 4 likes
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