Atlas Shrugged is very highly regarded by most libertarians and rightly so. However, I think that Ayn Rand's most often quoted book has a nice story,...moreAtlas Shrugged is very highly regarded by most libertarians and rightly so. However, I think that Ayn Rand's most often quoted book has a nice story, even if its claims are overstated but that Rand's prose could have been better. I sum it up as a compelling story told in some non-compelling prose. Still, the idea of killing the goose that lays the Golden egg is an area of enduring policy discourse today. (less)
This interesting book adds to the infusion of psychology into the arena of economics aka Behavioral Economics. Through a series of experiments, the au...moreThis interesting book adds to the infusion of psychology into the arena of economics aka Behavioral Economics. Through a series of experiments, the author confirms the idea that the assumptions of perfect rationality that standard economics texts make do not always stand. Unlike many who argue that these findings overturn the classical view, I am not at all sure that that assumption is correct because the author still confirms that despite the inability of most people to make quick comparisons among choices, people still prefer more to less.
No doubt Daniel Ariely has designed and carried out a large number of experiments on students at MIT and other colleges, I am unsurprised though that he finds that students are wont to cheat when they calculate that they are more likely to get away with it. To my mind, that is perfectly rational behaviour in any competitive environment with no rules or lax enforcement. Does one need to make reference to Maddoff et all to agree to find other examples?
In the many anecdotes in the book, one of the memorable ones is the tacit resistance by bank executives to improve the design of credit card systems with a view to reduction of debt for clients unable to exert control from impulsive buying. While I see the fear that comes from foregoing late payment fees and interest income, I would expect the bank executives to have agreed to the testing of the system and determine whether it really reduced their profitability. (less)
This book should be summed up thus: "Ideas have consequences".
Quite apart from the very interesting life that Antony Fisher led, it is significant tha...moreThis book should be summed up thus: "Ideas have consequences".
Quite apart from the very interesting life that Antony Fisher led, it is significant that his most important creation is the think tank known as the Institute of Economic Affairs based in London. The book is not lengthy and speaks for itself both about the author and the big idea that led to the establishment of think tanks.
Needless to mention here was a Cambridge University trained engineer, WWII pilot, a poultry rearing businessman and the originator of the idea of the Think Tank. Later, Antony Fisher tried to rear turtles for food and lost a substantial part of his fortune but still did not fail to support transplantation of new think tanks in Europe and the north of America. Granted that the book is written by a real admirer, one does not get the impression that its subject id turned into an undeserving icon nor the details of his intellectual or business life exaggerated.
But most important is the manner in which as an entrepreneur of ideas, he made the IEA a success to the surprise of Frederich Von Hayek, who considered that such an idea would not be successful. the reasons for Von Hayek's skepticism are as important as the fact that Antony Fisher defied him. This coverage of the life of Antony Fisher is a far better illustration of the "entrepreneur as a super-hero" (sorry Libertarians) and to my mind, in a more convincing way that Ayn Rand's interesting books which tend to overstate the same facts. Truly, Ideas have consequences. (less)