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Armchair Economist: Economics & Everyday Life

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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  3,126 ratings  ·  163 reviews
Witty economists are about as easy to find as anorexic mezzo-sopranos, natty mujahedeen, and cheerful Philadelphians. But Steven E. Landsburg...is one economist who fits the bill. In a wide-ranging, easily digested, unbelievably contrarian survey of everything from why popcorn at movie houses costs so much to why recycling may actually reduce the number of trees on the ...more
Paperback, 251 pages
Published March 1st 1995 by Free Press (first published 1993)
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Joey I BELIEVE THAT LANDSBURG DOESNT NECESSARLY SEE A PRICE DECREASE BAD HOWEVER THERE CAN BE A NEGATIVE DOWN FALL TO PRICE DECREASE

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Tim
Oct 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't going to bother commenting on this book but in regard to some of the other comments I feel I must. Those that rated this book a 1 or 2 and then jumped into politically-motivated negative comments - shame on you. You are intellectually dishonest to yourselves and those that read these reviews. There is nothing in this book that pushes a political agenda unlike MOST of the more recent psuedo-economics books being published. What IS presented by Landsburg are sound, economic analysis and ...more
Summer
Mar 27, 2007 rated it it was ok
Abysmal, condescending, illogical and mean-spirited book on social economics. Absolutely no sources named for "statistics". The author seems to think that a significant number of people go to the movies solely to eat popcorn and that the benefits of recycling are outweighed by the fact that he doesn't feel like doing it.
Tony Cohen
Nov 24, 2007 rated it liked it
I have to give this book a three since I did learn something, although I really hold it in remarkable contempt. For the first time ever while reading an economics book, I felt like I understood the contempt held for the 'dismal science'.

I feel like delving into this a bit. The author makes a claim that taxes don't add value to a society, because what you take from Peter, you pay to Paul, and in a sense of absolute value, it is true. If I have a million millionaires, who each earn 10 million a
...more
Bruce
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: party hosts seeking conversation starter material
Shelves: social-science
Recommended to my wife as Freakonomics’ better predecessor (Armchair Economist was originally published in 1993), Landsburg describes his work as “a chronicle of what [he] learned at lunch” (p. viii). Now, even granting the University of Rochester economics professor latitude befitting his choice of lunchtime companions, I was heartily disappointed to discover that the text indeed lives down to the author’s own humble description.

The tone is fine; Landsburg is chatty and informally fun. But each
...more
Sarazen
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
There are a few books that when you read them they change your perspective on everything. This on one of those books. I did not realize how woefully uneducated I was on how economies work. What was a real insight was how small choices of people can make all the difference. Everyone could benefit from a few turns in these pages.
Parth Agrawal
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Hey friends, long time no see Well I am to blame for that as under pressing circumstances, I got sidetracked from this wonderful addiction ;P

Well, let's talk about this new book that I just finished

This is the best book I've read so far folks and I'm not exaggerating. Well if an armchair economist, as the title suggests, can observe things the way Steven has done, I wonder what would an active economist running here and there will pull off. If you stop right wherever you are and go back in
...more
Alice Furse
Much like Freakonomics, this book uses a number of case studies to illustrate different points on economics theories and is quite a fun read - however, I would say it goes slightly deeper than Freakonomics as it's slightly more detailed and erudite.

The last chapter, "Why I am Not an Environmentalist" really made me think, as Landsburg outlines the reasons why commonly-held beliefs on the behaviours that help the environment may not be as effective as we think. For example, he says that people
...more
Anthea
Oct 21, 2015 rated it liked it
this book was good until the last chapter "why I am not an environmentalist". overall it was simple to understand and not totally filled with jargon unlike some other economics textbooks. sufficient details with relatable real life scenarios that make it easy to be understood.

however that last chapter was just ..... it just pisses me off seeing that he thinks all these "benefits" outweighs the cost of what we are doing to the environment. smfh. people like him is the reason for global warming.
Connor
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Interesting subjects presented but most lacked the critical analysis I was hoping for. The author seemed to oscillate between objective presentation and lecturing from personal opinion. The last chapter on environmentalism was intriguing but ending with the letter to the teacher seemed arbitrary and very ostentatious.
Shane Moore
Nov 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
I generally enjoy books that cover Economics topics for laymen, but I didn't like this one very much. The basics of the field are presented in a clear way, but the examples were often oversimplified to the point that they were distracting. His focus on economics isolated from all other aspects of society lead to him saying ridiculous things like, "taxes have no effect on the economy".
Becky Johnston
Read for class, but it just happened to be about a topic I didn't care at all about. Landsburg did not, to me, present a good case for caring about economics. Would recommend if you are interested in the topic; already know a great deal about the topic, but for the casual reader, I would skip it.
Stephanie Carr
A little intriguing, a little disappointing

At first I was really into this. I was picking up the examples like a sponge, nodding along with stuff that made sense, and recalling the fun experience of graphing every problem in my Econ 202 class. (Which really helps visualize things, for me at least)

Then about halfway through, the author has a whole section dedicated to points where the media "said something stupid about economics" (not a direct quote but Lord does it make me roll my eyes).
...more
نوید رشیدیان
Pretty well in explaining some basic insights from economics, but irritatingly trying to disguise one of the most inhumane moral philosophies I have ever encountered as science. The worst is when at the end of the nonsensical final essay against environmentalism Landsburg claim despite economics being a science free of values, engaging in it grows values such as respecting diversity, and by respecting diversity meaning a total refusal of accepting any responsibility and rejecting any kind of ...more
Alona
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Contrary to Naked Economics, this book actually taught me something new and that was quite unexpected. The last essay about environmentalism was certainly eye-opening for me. I see a lot of things about it differently now and just can't stop thinking about it.


I'm glad that I've found out about this book and it made me to feel proud of being an economist (even if just by education).

Contrary to Naked Economics, this book actually taught me something new and that was quite unexpected. The last
...more
Annie
Jan 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give this book 3.5 stars. The author should have left out the economic analysis of law and legal disputes (how the economy is better or worse off depending on which party wins), his economic musings that have no answers, and his views on environmentalism (similar to his views on religion - don't impose on those who don't believe). This book is probably more interesting for people who want study economics rather than the general public.
Juraj Spilda
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
The author tends to reduce arguments to simplistic strawman versions of the original problem to draw the conclusion that he wants to achieve. He also engages in unnecessary amounts of insults and condescension. If it weren't for one or two passable chapters, it would have been 1 star.
Pradip Caulagi
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
There is one sentence in the book where the author gets it wrong - economic theory predicts that you are not enjoying this book as much as you thought you would*. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would!

* He fixes it in the next couple of sentences. "This is a special case of a more general proposition: Most things in life don't turn out as well as you thought they would."
Andrew Breslin
Aug 21, 2014 rated it liked it
My obsession with economics is starting to become a bit of a problem. Here is an example of actual post-coital dialogue between me and my girlfriend:

Me: (after a few merciful moments of blissful silence): One principle difference between the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank in the former’s focus on stimulating growth, contrasted with the latter’s anti-inflationary position, as a result of historical and cultural precedents. As such, the ECB tends toward what Americans would view as
...more
Raymond
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
AJ H
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Armchair Economist was a very revealing and incredibly interesting book on how economics affects our daily lives. I was able to take in a lot of new knowledge from this book, and it really provides excellent descriptions and examples to help you understand concepts and it even teaches you how to apply them to different areas of life. This book proves that economics isn’t just boring numbers and algorithms, but instead it involves a lot of philosophy and theory that doesn’t necessarily ...more
kirmany
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Professor Landsburg extraordinary described the economics involved in our daily life.
I liked the expression - easy questions thinking using economics.
Professor argues that a world run only on an economic basis would turn out bad or good things, but that the good or the bad outcome is minor.
It is obviously true that “A price is attractive not when it is low compared with the past, but when it is low compared with the expected future”.
I think this book will change your point of view on so many
...more
Peterboh
Aug 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
It is a good book about how most people fail to apply basic economic principles in their lives. It's tone reminds me of the Black Swan, as author sounds condescending at times.

However, this seems appropriate given the general ignorance of basic economics demonstrated by media and by general public. No book is probably going to change this prevailing ignorance, but it is a worth pursuit.

Regardless, Landsburg presents an interesting material and a book was an enjoyable read.
Brian
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Not thrilled about this book. It seems too intangible. The arguments may be interesting in some cases but I didn't find that they translate well enough to reality. I hate to give poor reviews, but given that this is a book focused on concepts about the next best alternative, there are plenty of better alternatives.
E
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Just a lovely book. People of all shapes and sizes will find things to hate and things to love. Explains and the national debt and budget deficits very well. Skewers the religion of environmentalism. Shows how the "magic" of prices explains so so many elements of economics. Can't recommend this book more highly.
Daniel
Steven Landsburg's writings were my post collegiate introduction to the real value of studying economics. My colleague, Ron Baker, recommended Landsburg and others. I purchased and read the book in almost one sitting. Humorous and well written, he describes much of the why of what we do. Great book. Guaranteed.
Allen Martin
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, probably because I think like an economist.

I found things I agreed with, things I disagreed with, and several that made me go "huh". In all cases, it made me think, which is why it's worth reading.
Tristia Watson
May 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Reading this book is like listening to your favorite Economics professor share his favorite stories. (If you never had a favorite Economics professor, then Steven Landsburg is your guy.) Not as flashy as the Freakanomics books, but still a good insight into why things work the way they do.
Philip Miles
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love these "think like an economist" books! I found this particular one to be more thought-provoking than most and highly recommend it.
Tom
Feb 22, 2015 rated it liked it
A thought-provoking book on economics, which I didn't always find agreeable. It's enjoyable, but - in my opinion - should be read critically.
Shreyas
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Aspiring Economists
Very interesting and enjoyable read, especially for people who like to look behind the veil.
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