Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One
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Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  867 ratings  ·  97 reviews

Applied Economics is an accessible guide to how our economic decisions develop. It explains the application of economics to major world problems, including housing, medical care, discrimination, and the economic development of nations, illustrating with examples from around the world. This new, expanded edition has been updated to address economic questions that are partic

MP3 CD, Revised and Enlarged Second Edition
Published August 1st 2009 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published November 12th 2003)
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I remember reading several articles/essays/excerpts from Thomas Sowell in undergrad. He has the great ability of making economics accessible though his clear writing style and simple presentation of ideas. However, in this particular book, it was just that - the simplicity - that bothered me.

The whole premise of the book is that we should "think beyond stage one" and consider long-term effects of policies and practices. Sowell describes the (usually unintended) negative effects of certain polici...more
Jarrod Jenkins
Reinforces the idea that working hard in America leads to success. Like it or not, those who are poor or fail almost certainly made a series of wrong choices throughout their lives. There is simply too much opportunity in our country. Incentives are everything.

Memorable quotes:

"Even the top FIVE percent of households by income had more heads of household who worked full-time for 50 or more weeks a year than did the bottom 20 percent. In absolute numbers, there were 3.9 million heads of household...more
The title would have you believe this would be a more thorough-going followup to Sowell's fantastic "Basic Economics", with a greater emphasis on practical, real-world problems and proffered solutions evaluated by empirical analyses. That is not the case. "Applied Economics" treads a lot of familiar ground for those acquainted with Sowell and makes many of the same arguments found in Basic Economics, only from a more obviously biased perspective. The level of research in the material covered is...more
Wayne Farris
A thought provoking book that gets just a bit tedious at times. Still a good book that I am glad I read. After the introduction and first chapter or two you could just choose the topics in which you have the most interest. I especially enjoyed the gun control and housing sections. The book explores the unintended or "stage two" or "stage three" consequences of political responses to problems and how those consequences aren't realized for years. By then the consequences are frequently blamed on s...more
Thomas Sowell's "Applied Economics" ought to be required reading in every high school and college economics, politics, and English courses. While Mr. Sowell is Ph.D economist and fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford, his ideas are useful even to the non-economist. As a society, we tend to be taken in too easily by people who make irrational arguments that sound good at first glance but produce miserable results since no one thought about the next step. Often times, too many words are polit...more
Steve Schardein
Yet another fantastic exploration through all things economic, social, and political, guided by none other than master economist Thomas Sowell. This particular book addresses the consequences associated with "stage one thinking", which just happens to be a common point of failure for a huge number of modern politicians and a shockingly vast majority of the voting constituents today. As always, he matter-of-factly spells out how such thinking has gotten us into grave trouble in the past, and he d...more
This book is a must read for understanding what is happening in the political arena with health care and a variety of issues that are threatening the economics of the free market. Stage one is where politicians and the people want solutions but there are three stages afterwards where the consequences follow. These consequences are what will destroy the effectiveness of the free market and the constraints put upon it by supply and demand and other economic principles. I loved his assessment of th...more
After chapter upon chapter telling of the counter-productiveness of government intervention in markets, the immigration section is entirely out of place. Apparently there's nothing wrong with heavy regulation and central planning in the case of workers wanting to cross borders. The lack of an appropriately weighty explanation for the inconsistency with the rest of the book casts everything else into doubt. Instead of a coherent and principled set of arguments, all the rest could be cherry picked...more
Do we think deeply on our economics issues? Who’d want to? The price we pay for not doing so is a series of unintended consequences that would be comical if they weren’t so serious. Examples are given of cities where police, teachers and firefighters cannot afford to live. Examples show where there is inner city blight caused by rent control. Examples show where high minimum wages cause high unemployment with numerous “discouraged workers”. The book was very readable, but of course wasn’t a feel...more
Ben Midanek
This book explores the far-reaching and (mostly) unintended consequences of economic policy and other interventions in the free market. It is a very concise primer on economic policy decision-making, and Sowell explores the true costs and benefits of intervention in a way that is both readable and robust. The book can give any reader the basic economic literacy that is so lacking in in our society and (perhaps more importantly) our electorate. More advanced readers will also find plenty of artic...more
This book is vintage Thomas Sowell - clear, concise, logical, informative, and very boring.

Yes, boring. This reads more like a textbook. Sowell isn't trying to persuade anyone of anything. Education seems his goal.

I've read Sowell's columns for years in The Conservative Chronicle and they're great - witty, persuasive, and at times even fun. For some reason, that enjoyable style doesn't translate to his books. I've read a couple of his other books and thought they were boring too.

Oh well. The in...more
Bojan Tunguz
Many political considerations have the underlying economic dimensions. In fact, probably every political decision has major economic ramifications. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to discern all of those ramifications and the consequences of those decisions that come up further down the road sometimes take time to manifest themselves. This book provides the reader with some basic tools of analysis in order to fully appreciate some of the major political issues of today. The main focus is on...more
The title _Applied Economics_ doesn't sound exciting, so I expected the text to read like a textbook. But the book was very easy to listen to and is filled with insightful, economic analysis about a whole range of topics (immigration, housing prices, commuting, slavery, drug prices, medical care, etc.).

The author's position is that the public and politicians need to think beyond stage one (i.e., the immediate future) and instead consider the effects of particular policies far down the line. Too...more
Don Weidinger
politics categorical economics incremental, politics as initial impetuous economics as long term, price controls are lies about supply and demand, fdr needlessly prolonging depression via government experimentations stalling investment and consumer spending and expanded Hoover policies, 29 crash not unique similar to 87, Reagan as Coolidge let economy recover, doing something seldom helps, riots result from social instability from wave of policies well intentioned, unpaid apprenticeships typical...more
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After the reading the first chapter itself I knew I was going to like this book, in fact, Love this book. This book just puts into perspective various things that you have been thinking about throughout your life time. Things that you knew are true but whose affect you couldn't see the in a bigger picture (in political, economical and other socio-economical systems around you). I thought the first few chapters were very powerful and they really did help me in understanding why we cannot just kee...more
Doran Barton
While on vacation in southern California, I hit a Barnes & Noble in Costa Mesa to look for something to read and something for my wife's birthday. I was looking for a book I'd read about like New Deal or Raw Deal? How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America, but the store I was at seemed chock-full of books about President Barack Obama, Global Warming, what was wrong with the Republican Party, and not much of anything that would interest a conservative like me. I did find, however, this bo...more
Alexander Haynes
While the book did present some interesting thought experiments in the middle chapters, I must confess I barely got through chapter 1 - which (correctly) decried the use of 'stage-1 thinking' or looking only at the immediate or first-order effects of any given policy. However, this was presented in such as way that the conclusion appeared to be 'many policies create second- and third-order effects that are bad, so these policies are bad.' A more accurate treatment of economic tradeoffs would be...more
Michael Palkowski
Sowell's points are ludicrously grounded and clear, which is perfect for not only a parsimonious read but also in understanding dense economic theory in context. His treatment of the housing bubble is stellar as is his insistence in looking beyond the initial stages of policy. Looking at reverberations and side effects of well meaning legislation is something that is rarely considered, but Sowell does it masterfully here, to the point that his pronouncements seem like common sense; this is the m...more
Skylar Burris
Jun 02, 2014 Skylar Burris marked it as to-read-nonfiction  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
I sampled the intro and the first two chapters on Kindle. This book looks like it is going to be more accessible than most of Sowell’s works, and it also seems to be non-partisan. He looks at the effects of economic policies regardless of party, critiquing policies of both Democrats and Republicans. He also notes that many of the Democrat policies that Republicans associate with long-term economic damage are actually policies that were begun under Republicans and only continued or expanded under...more
Great book so far, the author provides lucid account and justification for his arguments as well as encouraging the reader through a series of case studies to think beyond stage one. The only critique I have of this book is that the author spends no space defining stage one. Sometimes using the term to refer to election cycles, sometimes using the term to refer to stages of an individuals life and other implied definitions too.

Now that I've finished the book I can say this was well worth the re...more
Benjamin Glaser
This book should have been titled "Common Sense" because that is all Sowell does in this book. He shows the logical outworking of economic planning past the "first stage", that is when the plan is put into action there will be things affected by it that you need to plan for from the beginning.

Highly Recommend.
Sean Crowley
Masterful practical explanation of Economics as applied to various aspects of Civilization over time. Brilliant use of practical economics to illustrate how it has impacted civilizations development or lack thereof. I must read more of Sowells work.
The subtitle of this book reveals its underlying theme: our decisions (economically and politically) should take into account their potential effects. When we act without thinking beyond stage one, the long-term effects can be more costly than the apparent short-term gain. I generally agree with Prof. Sowell's points of view, which seem to be of the libertarian/classical liberal ilk. Each chapter is devoted to applying multi-stage thinking to a specific subject matter--the mortgage crisis, immig...more
Nathan Newcomer
One of the clearest books on economics out there. Sowell smashes long-held thoughts and beliefs with inscrutable logic and common-day English. It's the everyman's economics book with a punch.
Ari Lapin
His chapter on "The Economics of Medical Care" is a must-read for anyone who doesn't want to be an ultracrepidarian when discussing present-day healthcare issues.
Scott Diamond
The author is a senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institute think tank. In this book he seems to be making the case that government involvement is never beneficial. (At least he didn't mention any examples.) He makes some interesting points with validity but I did not find his discussion entirely balanced. For example he discusses being able to sell human organs. I think he has a point and I might support it but in his case he never discusses the possibility of people being killed for hum...more
"prices play many roles in allocating time and effort, as well as goods and services, recycling, requires time and effort, and the incremental value of teh things being recycled may or maynot be worth the time and effort spent in salvaging them.

" all economic systems operate within the inherent constraint that what everyone wants adds up to more than they can possibly get. This means that all economic systems have to find ways of restricting and denying the use of both resources and f...more
Sowell's ability to look at a topic objectively is powerful, and as I read this book I found myself also looking at the world around me through more objective eyes. He discusses topics that polite society refuses to even think about, and does it in a way that is engaging and thought-provoking. His prose is easy to follow, and his style is often funny but just as often ironic. The irony comes from the gullibility of humans, and he repeatedly shows how what we want, and what we get, are not the sa...more
Jul 08, 2008 Francis rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: should be required for all voters and officeseekers
I agree with those who proclaim that Sowell is a genius.

This book looks at "do gooder" solutions to perceived problems, and show why they invariably fail. Thus, countries to which we give "foreign aid" become poorer, affordable housing programs result in housing scarcity and price increases, minimum wage laws reduce employment and drive prices up,and various other topics.

He shows that the failure of most programs results from the misallocation of scarce resources.

He shows that the failure to ask...more
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Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social commentator, and author of dozens of books. He often writes from an economically laissez-faire perspective. He is currently a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In 1990, he won the Francis Boyer Award, presented by the American Enterprise Institute. In 2002 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal for prolific scholars...more
More about Thomas Sowell...
Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy Economic Facts and Fallacies The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy Black Rednecks & White Liberals A Conflict Of Visions

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“Where recyling takes place only in response to political pressures and exhortations, it need not meet the test of being incrementally worth its incremental costs. Accordingly, studies of government-imposed recycling programs in the United States have shown that what they salvage is usually worth less than the cost of salvaging it.” 6 likes
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