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Economyths: 11 Ways Economics Gets it Wrong

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  355 ratings  ·  54 reviews
When Economyths was first published in 2010, David Orrell showed how mainstream economics is based on key myths such as fair competition, rational behaviour, stability and eternal growth – and how these myths lead paradoxically to their opposites: inequality, an irrational economy, financial instability and a collision with nature’s limits.

Since then, we’ve had Occupy, pol
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published July 6th 2017 by Icon Books Ltd (first published January 1st 2010)
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Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the better popular economics books that I've read. David Orrell is an applied mathematician and currently works in the area of complex systems research. That will probably give you an idea of his bent: he's not an economist, he is a scientist. More importantly—for me at least—he's an empiricist. And his message is that the economic data do not support the model of classical economics.(♪ - (view spoiler) ...more
Muhammad al-Khwarizmi
Economyths is not a bad book. If you're new to this sort of thing, you might get more out of it than I would. Frankly, I'm not entirely sure why I read this, given that I'm already familiar with most of the points the author is making. Anyhow, the long and short of it is that, by emphasizing tractability in the language of calculus over, you know, FACTS, neoclassical economic theory has fallen dangerously short and failed to deliver on its promise of delivering judicious advice for the economy a ...more
Sweemeng Ng
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
I get it, real world is hard, we need new idea of economics. But I don't like the presentation style.
James Elder
One sentence summary: neo-classical economics is bollocks.

Orrell is a mathematician with a background in complexity theory and non-linear dynamics.

His argument, reasonably convincingly put, is that neo-classical economics (i.e. the dominant school of thought running from Adam Smith, through Pareto, Hajek, Milton Friedman to the likes of Alan Greenspan) has tried to position itself as being, like physics, based on immutable, eternal laws (supply and demand, perfect markets, rational maximising of
Radu Nicoara
Feb 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
The rules of economy do not function 100% of the time. They are just statistical insights on what we should expect, given a certain action in the market. However this book takes some not-that-well-documented exceptions to the rules, to prove that the rule is non-existent. It is not trying to offer a better solution, or at least treat the cases where it does apply, but just shows you incomplete data to prove that the rules are myths and we should forget them. It is an interesting read, but not sc ...more
Syed Fathi
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bought, economics
The book opens with a foreword and preface of the new version which basically gave a summary of what had happen since the first publication in term of reception. The work was cherished by heterodox economist and sparked debate over the way of economics was taught as a subject. This was in light of the economic crash in 2008-09, which was not predicted by many 'experts'. The idea however was rejected by mainstream neo-classical economist due to the fact that it challenges the established theory. ...more
MG Mason
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Economics is not the sort of subject I would normally grab hungrily at and I haven't read a book or article on the subject since A-Level Business Studies. Yet our lives are driven by economics, our jobs and lifestyles depend on our countries having a strong one, the prices of the our day to day necessities are driven by fluctuations in the global market. In short, it is important to know about these things but it is not the most interesting subject to write or read about.

2008 saw the most horrif
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: society
Orrell feels like he's received a lot of criticism from Economists, and I can understand why. He challenges the consensus and makes some interesting points, but gets quite a lot wrong too, which makes it such an easy target.

One theme that seems to run throughout is double meanings. He uses the economy in the more philosophical sense, rather than its current meaning, to shoehorn in some points. He uses symmetry to make some comparisons between physics and economics, when I think 'equilibrium' wou
Bill Taylor
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book on how economics is stuck in the 19th century classic view. The market is always right, except when it isn't. All things being equal etc. References to the 2008 crash. Section on the lack of women in investment banking interesting - they could be a steadying hand for the risk takers.
Steve Greenleaf
When I first took a course in Economics in college as a sophomore, 6E:1 “Introduction to Microeconomics,” I was quite taken with the subject. Unlike my major subjects, history and political science, it was so neat, so tidy. You could plot supply and demand curves and arrive at a price. Of course, there were monopolies and externalities and the like, but those were flies in the ointment of economic rationality. Of course, macro got messier, and by the time I took my third course, Public Finance, ...more
Tiffany Tee
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Daniel B-G
I’ve read quite a few books that follow in a similar vein, the strength and weakness of this book, is that it doesn’t really make any strong positive recommendations. Let me clarify. There are plenty of books out there that talk about complexity economics and behavioural economics, most of them begin by making a concrete case for the intellectual bankruptcy of neo classical economics; then they move on to propose their alternative. This doesn’t do the second bit. There are little sections that a ...more
Apr 07, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A startling wake up call on what Economics doesn’t tell us

I must confess that I knew nothing about Economics before picking up this book. I wouldn’t now claim to be an expert, but I am now more enlightened by its challenges and to the problems it can create through the methodologies deployed.

An interesting read, but it felt long and repetitive in parts, particularly the last three chapters. However, the author has obviously given this a lot of thought and has some compelling arguments
Sarmad Jabbar
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the shortcomings of the book primarily due to the author's own avowed agenda for reformative capitalism, the book makes a strong case for introducing a more scientific attitude in the field of economics which to date is based on vehement ideological beliefs based on philosophical, scientific and mathematical ideas and models of 17th-18th centuries. A must read for those who wish to understand the flaws of current economic and financial systems (manifest in successive failures and crashes ...more
Rahil Shahril
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked the wit & humor the author had, not to mention the relatable situations that deviates entirely from the economic theories we learned in university.

I would say that it's not a rejection of economic theory entirely but it's a perspective build on top of the theory that everyone should get a grasp of it.

Good non-fiction read!
Jan Brabec
Jun 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
A biologist who uses quotes of Hugo Chavez writes a book on economics. What could go wrong? As you would expect pretty much everything. Dangerous book if read by people who can't see flaws in his reasoning.
Aug 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
Wasted my time reading this dross to realise that it was an anger-fueled piece written by one who addresses irrelevant issues such as gender gaps in professions and wealth gaps as if a utopian society were ever a possibility.
Florin Pitea
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Quite interesting, informative and even humorous in places. Recommended.
Venera Arakelyan
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could read this when i was studying in University. Everyone who is interested in economics should read this.
May 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Economics is a mathematical model of human behaviour. David Orrell is an applied mathematician and knows about mathematical modelling. He is not an economist; he sees that as an advantage. He says that the orthodox economic model has proved so flawed that it is useless.
He says he does not want to put up a straw-man to knock it down, but I think that is what he is doing. Economics students are not taught that their discipline is governed by simple laws, they know it is more like weather forecasti
Stephen Lee
Just a couple of comments on why I wasn't that keen on this book (I'll try to write a longer review later) Firstly I felt that finding myths without going into detail about who believed them is a typical strawman argument. Secondly there was the promise throughout the book of an introduction to how complexity science has been applied to economics, but when I got to the end it seemed more a case of 'this is left as an exercise for the readers' (i.e. he hopes that readers of this book will be moti ...more
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a work written by a mathematician, as opposed to an Economist or Political Scientist, I expected a more detailed vivisection into the flaws underlying conventional economic theory, but what I was greeted with was more a work of class warfare.
One would assume that a mathematician, in compiling such a study, would put aside sentimental leanings, but that is clearly not the case, as he states at location 2977 "Personally I'm not convinced that anyone on the planet should be paid more than $500,0
The economy is broken. It doesn't take a global financial crisis, rampant wealth inequality, and a collapsing ecosystem to realize it, but it certainly brings the issue into sharp focus. David Orrell argues that one of the main causes of the problem is that neoclassical economics -- the kind taught in every introductory university class and espoused by every government economist -- is founded on flawed assumptions.

The book is divided into ten chapters, each detailing one of these assumptions and
Dec 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
David Orrell's position as a mathematician and historian of science working in finance gives him a unique vantage point from which he can relentlessly criticize in an analytical manner the myths of classical economics, i.e. what he refers to as "The Ten Economyths". Despite whatever economists would like us to think (and teach to their students) the markets are neither fair, nor efficient, nor rational, nor many other things that are used as alibis by free market proponents from the mid 20th cen ...more
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Economyths is written in equal parts flourish and frustration as the author frequently points out the ignorance of the main heroes of (what he calls) neoclassical economics theory while in turns celebrating their lofty aims, which he understands as ultimately wanting help relieve the world of inequity.

While he disparages orthodox economics as "ideology", the author's understanding of ideology seems weak and often merely rhetorical. In the end, he characterises economists as schizophrenics who, r
Ajay Palekar
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rarely has it been so clearly enunciated, the greatest criticisms of the psuedoscientific field known as economics. As someone taught economics through the higher education of New England and London, I was for years convinced of the very myths that still today propel the neoclassical economic view.

To say that the neoclassical view and my old professors are wrong is an understatement, but also worth little as it leaves open to interpretation the gap between their models and theories and the real
Geert Hofman
That there is something wrong with the economy should be clear to everyone by now. If you listen to those people that manage the economy and the social fabric that is supposedly build on top of it, what is happening around us is perhaps not ideal but it is the best we may expect. That inequality and power concentration is a result of this "imperfect" system is just a side effect that will ultimately bear fruit.

In his book "Economyths" David Orrell clearly demonstrates that the above thesis is ju
Carles Codony ribera
I agree with the book that current economic theories aren't good to model or predict the economy (or any model at all, because the model by itself changes the economy it tries to predict) but it puts a bit too much emphasis on how dogmatic and close minded economists are, while the reality (at least based on what I read elsewhere, since I'm no economist) isn't really like that, even for "neoclassical" economists as he describes them.

After reading it, one might think that economists are putting p
Soren Molander
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I' ve read a number of books on the shortcomings of neoclassical economics and how it affects the daily lives of people. This book by a non-economist supports the view that neoclassical economics as it is still taught in universities is fundamentally flawed and is overly reliant on 19th century ideas of balance and conservation. It is also flawed in the sense that growth can never be exponential, that the price is always right, that GDP doesn't measure progress. The book also stresses that the c ...more
Ravi Warrier
Do you remember the feeling when you know something is crap, but can't explain it why? When I have a discussion about economic theories with people, I get that feeling all the time. Fortunately, for us, those who argue against the rationality of economics and economic theories, we've just got ourselves a textbook.
David Orrell takes every myth behind economics (and their theories) and systematically shreds them to pieces in his book, Economyths. Even if you weren't in the camp, this is a good boo
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David Orrell, Ph.D. is a scientist and author of popular science books. He studied mathematics at the University of Alberta, and obtained his Ph.D. from Oxford University on the prediction of nonlinear systems.

His work in mathematical modeling and complex systems research has led him to diverse areas such as weather forecasting, particle accelerator design, economics, and cancer biology. He has a

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