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Economics for Real People: An Introduction to the Austrian School

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  517 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The second edition of the fun and fascinating guide to the main ideas of the Austrian School of economics, written in sparkling prose especially for the non-economist. Gene Callahan shows that good economics isn't about government planning or statistical models. It's about human beings and the choices they make in the real world.

This may be the most important book of its

Paperback, 351 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Ludwig Von Mises Institute (first published January 1st 2002)
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Ash Moran
I read this book as one of a list of 5, and I wrote a blog post to summarise it. This review is taken from my blog post An Economics Reading List by Ron Paul, so go there for more. The full list of books is: The Law, Economics in One Lesson, What Has Government Done to Our Money?, The Road to Serfdom and Economics for Real People.

Economics for Real People is the densest and most detailed of the economics books here. But like What Has Government Done to Our Money? it’s written with such clarity t
AJ Slater
Jan 15, 2009 rated it liked it
A quick overview of Austrian School principles. They're extreme laissez faire minarchists who believe the role of the state stops at stopping violence and enforcing property rights. There's not much depth to this easy reader, nor was there intended to be. A more complete text might offer more contrast with classic and keynesian schools and address faults with the Austrian school.

I don't need convincing that markets are terribly useful and that there are flaws with keynesian theory. The descripti
Muhammad al-Khwarizmi
Oct 24, 2013 rated it did not like it
I promised myself I'd read more about Austrian economics so that I'd be more certain of the things I'm having a go at. At any rate, I suspected that I wouldn't go through a Damascene conversion by the end of this book, and I was right. Most of the things I will have to say are negative. But first, the positive:

At one point, Callahan lambastes the labor theory of value. I am essentially in agreement with him that subjective theory of value, a staple of the Austrian school, is essentially correct.
Bill Peacock
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Bill by:
You can't beat this book for full yet easy to understand presentation of free market economics, Austrian-style. If you only read one book in your life on economics, this should be the one. ...more
Sean Rosenthal
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Interesting Quote:

"The communist countries copied the market countries' methods of production, their products, and their technologies. Soviet planners even copied commodity prices out of the Wall Street Journal so that they would be able to perform economic calculation. Lew Rockwell once told a wonderful story about Mikhail Gorbachev's press secretary. Asked what his dream for mankind was, he replied that he wished to see all of the world embrace socialism, except New Zealand. 'Why not New Zeala
This is my review on Amazon dated April 8, 2014:

Is it the ECONOMICS itself that is complex and dismal, or are such the (mainstream) economists' explanations?

Why is there so much fuss about HEALTH CARE? What is the difference between health care AND SHELTER OR FOOD? (both shelter and food are just as vital as healthcare, but as far as I know, I pay for my rent and grocery bills myself)

What is the difference between a BANK AND a SHOE STORE?

Every economic DEBATE on central banking and money in the
Otto Lehto
Dec 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Not bad. Well written and funny but a little bit myopic and parochial. The book explains the basic tenets of the Austrian school but does not sufficiently deal with the scholarly challenges to them.
Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you want an easy to read, in-depth book about Austrian School Economics, then this is the book for you. It has numerous examples to explain key concepts and comparisons with other schools of economics.
Mar 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: economics
Have you ever read an economics textbook? Most are full of graphs and equations, the simplest being the one showing supply and demand. Well, as we all know now, those who apply math to economics can get lost in their own world only to be interrupted by actual events.

The Austrian School of economics looks at the ability of the consumer to choose as its the most important factor and, while admitting that some formulae may have their place, it is a fantasy to believe that we can chart our way to su
Daniel Moss
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
This is the economics book I'll recommend to any beginner. It covers some stuff that goes a little deeper than some other basic econ books but it does so in a style that makes it enjoyable and easy to grasp. Because of Callahan's prose and illustrations I had some concepts shored up for me that had been difficult to fully comprehend after having read Human Action. ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not a bad introduction to the Austrian school and capitalism overall, but I would've put the chapters on human action (the first few) at the very end and use them as a way to rebuke attempts to control the economy which the author discusses towards the end

Overall, a very good book for anyone wanting to learn about economics
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A respected friend of mine recently made reference to the Austrian School of Economics. I had heard others refer to it, and the name in articles, but had never had it brought up previously by someone who I both respected and trusted enough to ask about. We chatted about it briefly and I was surprised to notice that it did not seem to differ all that much from my own understanding and view of economics. Hoping to get a better understanding I sought an accessible source on the subject and settled ...more
Douglass Gaking
The Austrian School approach to the study economics is practical, logical, and accessible. Understanding it gives one an excellent perspective on history, philosophy, politics, business, current events, and daily life. However, there are so many thinkers one needs to explore, starting with Frédérick Bastiat, Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Friederich A. Hayek. While incredibly enlightening, their works can be overwhelming in their size, depth, and dryness. They can each take ...more
Mbogo J
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is an attempt to build the Austrian School from first principles. Using simple examples and thought processes Callahan breaks down the main tenets of the Austrian School into understandable chunks that anyone even noneconomists can understand pretty much everything.
The Austrian focus on human action is an idea deserving merit, that explains why it has seen its modern reincarnation as behavioral economics. Unfortunately that is where my agreement with Austrian thought ends, I feel thei
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is a good introduction to Austrian economics. It has some good examples that are simple and easy to follow, and shows what the Austrian approach would be to practical issues that arise in daily life. He references survivor and the most basic system showing that any time spent gathering firewood is time not spent on constructing a shelter, or looking for food. How people then decide what to do in their day is an economic decision at a very basic level.
Apr 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
A delightful introduction to basic economics and Austrian economics, with the help of referencing the TV show Survivor, Callahan was able to demonstrate simple economic concepts using a desert island setting to ensure it is applicable in all conditions. It's a must read for all entry level economics students. ...more
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Anyone interested in a layman's introduction to Austrian Economics must read this book. ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think this is a wonderful book, clearly written, a fun and easy read on an interesting topic.
JT Cheek
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great intro to Austrian Econ. Like a more detailed and contemporary version of Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson.
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The only real problem I see with this book is that it could have discussed malinvestment more thoroughly, with some examples.
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
This was my first introduction to the core of the Austrian school. I had before this read a few books explaining basic economics for the layman, but this was the one which brought everything together into a complete synthesis. Gripping enough that I read through the whole thing in one or two sittings, staying up late into the night. It would be presumptuous to say that this book 'made an economist of me', but it did teach me well the basic structure and principles of economic thinking. I now fee ...more
Matt Carpenter
Jul 08, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is a good introduction to economic principles from an Austrian perspective (look up Austrian economics on wikipedia). He uses good examples and is pretty simple to understand. A problem with his view and that of all Austrian economists is that they want the subject to be a value-free subject and it's not. Throughout the book he refers to choices that would make sense and then will say something like, "But we can't say that it's the morally right choice." That's wrong, but it's the natu ...more
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
What do I do with my free time? Evidently I read economics textbooks. This one happens to provide a really good intro to Austrian economics, and I would recommend it as an easy way to get acquainted with this school of thought.

"To be human is to know that our days on Earth are numbered, and that we must chose how to use them ... Economics is not a theory of everything, but simply a theory of the consequences of choice. In studying economics, we take human ends as the ultimate given. People, some
Ken Bishop
Jul 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fincancial truth seekers
Shelves: non-fiction
Callahan is even more accessible than Hazlitt's, Economics in One Lesson . They are both of the free-market (i.e. Austrian Economics school). Highly recommended. ...more
John Boettcher
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great primer to the premises of the Austrian School of Economics. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn REAL economics, not mainstream, CNBC-type talking heads economics. This book will help you make sense of everything.
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was actually really interesting. The word illustrations are all captivating and easy to understand. Austrian Economics is the ideal system in my opinion. You can also get this book free online, which is always a plus.
Michael W.
Dec 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction-read
A very engagingly written and thorough introduction to the Austrian School of Economics.
Mar 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
It was a very good and concise overview of economic thought, from an austrian/libertarian viewpoint.
Jason Hallmark
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The single best primer for the subject of economics ever written...with the possible exception being Hazlitt's classic Econ in One Lesson. Accessible in the extreme. A must read! ...more
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