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Economics Explained

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  357 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Economics Explained has an announced purpose to explain that mysterious thing called economics. But there is a new urgency to the book. It is announced in the first sentence of the introduction: "Just in case the reader-to-be hasn't noticed, disturbing things are going on in the American economy these days." This new edition is about these disturbing things: a trend toward ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 5th 1998 by Touchstone (first published 1982)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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David Smith
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: MBA Students
Shelves: business-books
This book is very insightful, but you should come into the book with a little bet of Economic knowledge since it is written by two professors one of which is the Professor of Economics at MIT's Sloan business school.

The most common phrase is "our answer is Yes and No..." which sets the tone for complexity in the balance required in economics and which sometimes leaves the reader without an exact way of measuring the benefit and the detriment of each consequence, or to put it shortly lost.

My favo
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's a really good book to understand economics. They make a traditionally dull subject fairly interesting. It would likely be tough to get through with zero understanding of economics as it gets fairly advanced, but does a decent job of explaining subjects from the beginning. It's a great book to gain knowledge of economics.

The rest of this review is notes I took while reading and not a review:
NoCapitalism - need to be able to own property and land. Have the choice to work. That's why it is new
Patrick Bostick
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Solid book for understanding macro and micro economics. Explains numerous concepts, including the varieties of spending that individuals, businesses, and governments engage in. It also explains the interplay between them and how they work together. Excellent book.
Dec 01, 2011 rated it liked it
I think this an excellent primer to the unvarnished truth about our Capitalistic economy both the good and the bad which is excelllent.

Chap 1: Starts out with the history of capitalism started out with the institution of private property by law for everyone not just the monarchs which was then a command economy that stemmed from the monarchy and other forms of the market had to be based on tradition.

The book explains that market economy in which everything was seen as commodity first occurred wh
Mohamed Almahdi
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
It is important to understand history and compare it with our current status quo to realize how our society can be formed and shaped in various orders that may probably be much better than what we are living today. The authors start the book by explaining how we have reached this modern economy after centuries of different forms of pre-capitalist societies governed by primitive and traditional economy, an explanation of a transition phase in the life of mankind that can be understood and obtaine ...more
Cherif Jazra
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This survey of economic theory is exceptional. It provides a wonderful mix of history, relevant examples, and theory. Rather than subscribing to one particular "school" it presents all the schools and their criticisms. This book should be required reading to students in high school, in my opinion, as all adults should have a working knowledge of economics.

See my other reviews here!
Erik Graff
Aug 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: economics beginners
Recommended to Erik by: David Schweickart
Having much enjoyed Heilbroner's The Worldly Philosophers, I picked this coauthored title up eagerly. It is not as fun--or funny--as that series of biographies of the great economists, but it is as easy to read and does serve as a very general introduction to economic theory. This edition, however, is dated by its attention to economic controversies current at the time of publication.
Geoff Sebesta
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
True story; I read this book and understood Reagan's economic policies. I still didn't agree with them, but this book is clear and facile enough that I could actually understand the economic philosophy behind Reaganism. Quite a trick.
Matt Faus
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Detailed explanations of micro and macro concepts along with philosophical musings on what is wrong with America and where it should be headed. At least, from the authors' perspective when it was written in 1998.

Overall a great read, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Jul 24, 2013 added it
This book provides a good overview of the multifaceted complexities of economics, particular from the US's point of view. Certain parts of the book were slightly too technical for me to grasp so I will probably re-read at some point. Great book overall though, very insightful.
Gayathri Mahendran
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant book.It really helped me understand economics better. Heilbroner is a genius! It's definitely a must-read for those who haven't done economics earlier.
Nikos Bar
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely fabulous script of Economics for beginners.
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James K Worswick
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Coming from someone who didnt have much knowledge of economics, reading this book really helps. I enjoyed the fact that it was easy to read/understand.
Riley Haas
Dec 15, 2016 rated it liked it
"The biggest problem with this book is the authors clearly intended it for an American audience only. They take it for granted that a country would spend so much on their military; the vast majority of examples are from or relating to the United States; and they discuss American economic problems from a "what is best for America" point of view. That's trying, to say the least. They also explain things cursorily a lot, and it's amazing how much more clear Tim Harford is when explaining similar th ...more
Jul 08, 2008 rated it liked it
A pretty decent book for what it is-- a basic overview of macro and microeconomic principles, with some interesting side investigations into the way the economy overlaps with politics and social issues. Mostly a pretty quick read, with few equations or other unneccessary complexities to throw off a newbie like me.

That said, it is pretty limited in its scope, to what we traditionally think of as the economy (supply and demand, taxation, transfer of payments, etc) and not so interested in applying
Brian Quistorff
Jun 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Very good. Loved the summary of history of capitalism. This is what all people should learn in high school.

The part about wealth creation on the capital markets (determining I by knowing R and ROI for similar risk projects) and how that's different than savings or income~skills.

Also the difference for the Fed between a checking account (or demand deposit) and a savings account (certain measures of money supply (M1 M2, etc) count checking and not savings).

It was written in 1994 so they talk abou
Luke Salmon
Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
I thought this book was pretty weak. I majored in business economics in college and wanted a refresher since that was over 10 years ago. There were several parts of the book where Heilbroner was talking about concepts that I was already familiar with, and I noticed that his explanations of these concepts were not clearly explained. I doubt I would have been able to grasp the ideas if I did not already know what he was trying to get at.

In addition, the book is random and meandering. It's almost a
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
A great picture of how economies work and the components contained within them. The authors use an excellent mixture of examples and real-life scenarios to break down a very complex subject.

Unfortunately, the use of examples backfires with the last revision being from 1998. The world economies have changed significantly since then (e.g. there is a quote about if/when the Euro is introduced), and much of the last third of the book feels like it needs to be revised

Overall, if you're looking for a
Nov 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every time I think economics could be interesting, I read an economics book. This one is very well written. It starts with a brief overview of the fathers of economic theory: Smith, Marx, Keynes. It then moves into how economies work, the politics of economic theory and what makes sense economically. The authors do a decent job of trying to be fair to different economic theories, and they present a straightforward overview. This is a good book for anyone interested in an introduction to economic ...more
John Duff
Nov 03, 2015 rated it liked it
A well written overview of U.S. economics, albeit somewhat outdated, which highlights the fundamentals of macro and micro-economics as experienced in the U.S. While the title is misleading - as it conflates “economics” and capitalism – I recommend this book (or maybe an updated version) to anyone interested in obtaining an elementary understanding of U.S. economy. This may be something worth looking in to given the upcoming 2016 Presidential Elections. A three star rating is not due to the quali ...more
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
A good book for starters but then the book points out how some social/economic programs in the US helped the economy by putting a baseline under the economic structure. If you are an ardent Austrian Economics follower then this book's logic might sound wrong to you in more than a few ways; however the book shows the difference between GDP, GNP and other basic economics literature that is very useful for learners.
Nov 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Whatever econ I had in school never stuck. This book is written in such a way that it is easy to read, and makes many economic principles readily understandable. It is organized in bite-sized 15-page chapters, making it easy to pick up for a half hour at a time. Highly recommended to anyone wanting to get a better handle on how our economic system works.
Sep 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Pretty useful, laymans version of understanding the economy. The examples were simple and straigthforward even with tricky economic games. It was helpful although it was certainly biased according to the views of the authors.
John Seno
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
wow, an incredible and well written book on matters economics, most of the examples are based on The American economy but that takes nothing away from the ease with which this very important subject is addressed. This is the 3rd book in my library related to economics and it was worth it!
Jul 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, owned
Interesting and educational. I found the book mainly balanced in its approaches; however, it does lean Keynesian more in the explanations. A better discussion of the challenge areas using both Keynes and Hayek (or Austrian) economics would have been helpful.
Jan 02, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
Just because I needed to add one more economics book. :)
Feb 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book help explained what I hear on the radio when politicians and "experts" talk about the state of the US economy and what should be done about it.
Ralph Palm
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
An OK introductory text, but nothing special. I probably could have gotten the same information from Wikipedia. Although, in this case, the authors were nice enough to organize it for me...
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Robert L. Heilbroner (March 24, 1919 – January 4, 2005) was an American economist and historian of economic thought. The author of some twenty books, Heilbroner was best known for The Worldly Philosophers, a survey of the lives and contributions of famous economists, notably Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes.

Written in 1953, The Worldly Philosophers has sold nearly four million copies

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