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Economics for the Common Good

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  437 ratings  ·  49 reviews
From Nobel Prize-winning economist Jean Tirole, a bold new agenda for the role of economics in society

When Jean Tirole won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Economics, he suddenly found himself being stopped in the street by complete strangers and asked to comment on issues of the day, no matter how distant from his own areas of research. His transformation from academic economist
ebook, 576 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by Princeton University Press (first published May 2016)
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Athan Tolis
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The translators give away the game on page 429, where in the last sentence they let it slip: as per the last five words of chapter fifteen, the real title of this book ought to have been “Economics OF the common good.”

And that’s what we really have here. Rather than a book about the wide field of Economics, this is a book about what a less ambitious author would have called “the Economics of the Public Sector.”

And yet, this five hundred page opus is still far too ambitious and suffers for it
Philippe Malzieu
I have great discussion with my son (student in political sciences in London) when I provoke him by saying social sciences are soft sciences and medicine hard sciences. He opposed to me that economy had a subject and a method, but I respond that economist response depend of their theory : keynesian or classic. Thee is no end.It is funny.
Tirole, last economy Nobel Prize, is mathematician, it is is his alone book readable. Somewhere, it is the anti-Picketty. Pedagogic, simple, he justify all his
Economics for the Common Good, by Jean Tirole, is a fascinating book on economics and its place as a discipline in modern society. Tirole starts by discussing the idea of common good, and the discipline of economics. Often in the modern world, economics, and in particular finance, are blamed for many of the worlds ills. The 2008 financial crisis, the Greek debt crisis, populism, environmental damage... etc. etc. Tirole note throughout the book that there are truths to these claims. Economics, ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Well worth reading, particularly today.

This is the exact opposite of the uninformed, homogeneous, incendiary, hyper-partisan, superficial, sound-bite centered, eye-candy-like blather we're daily subjected to through our social media feeds and preferred media outlets (whether newspapers or cable news services). This is serious, critical, analytical, research-based examination of some of the most important issues facing our society today. How refreshing (and, at the same time, how depressing it is
John  Mihelic
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Princeton used a really dense stock for the paper, so this is a dense book in terms of it's physicality. But in terms of ideas, not so much. Tirole tries to be accessible in sketching out his vision for economists and economics aimed for the interested amateur. He is at his best in the first couple hundred pages, where he is looking specifically at ideas like what is economics and what does the economist do?. The last three hundred pages he engages with a dozen or so macro and micro challenges ...more
Laurent Franckx
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Few people outside the economics profession have an idea of the almost God-like status Jean Tirole has amongst his peers. Arguably, the key reason for this relative obscurity is that, while Jean Tirole is an extremely prolific author, his intellectual activity has, until recently, been entirely focused on writing extremely technical papers and books with an specialized audience in mind. With the possible exception of Kenneth Arrow, Tirole has written a record number of path breaking papers in ...more
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author is a Nobel prize-winner in economics and has developed what is described as a ‘bold new agenda for the role of economics in society’. It may appear to many to be a dry, focussed read but it is capable of being transformative and valuable, propelling the science of economics to a visible, proactive force for good.

The author seeks to engage with the challenges that society is facing, utilising the power of economics to identify and action challenges. The objective is a ‘call-to-arms’, a
B Sherburn LaBelle
Excellent, must read book. The author makes a difficult subject more assessible. We now live in a global community where we have a choice for the common good. We can end so much needless suffering by taking the greater good into account when we make our decisions. Let's hope we see the world move in this direction.

Jukka Aakula
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book written by a Nobelist in Economy on the economic problem of providing Public Good.

Tirole discusses many branches of the economy like a) protecting the environment, b) finances and especially regulating of financial institutions like banks, c) innovation and especially ownership of intellectual property, d) competition, e) natural monopolies and regulation of those monopolies, f) digitalization, competition in case of digital/platform economy and regulation of platform economy. g) Labor
Jonathan Hawkins-Pierot
Jan 29, 2018 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in economics or public policy, economists early in their career
This is one of the few books I'm aware of that comes anywhere close to communicating the state-of-the-art to non-economists - and the endnotes are a valuable resource even for more advanced readers.

A casual reader might find parts a bit dry or disjointed, but as anyone who has tried to teach a introductory micro course can attest, being simultaneously non-technical and non-wrong is nothing to sneeze at. We all have something to learn from Jean Tirole.
Abdulah Al-rashdi
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From explaining the game theory and the information theory to the reason why climate change is hard to implement using the analysis of the tragedy of the common. The book is trying to explain how economic decisions are hard to make and thus there is no one size the fits all.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent book!

This book starts with the a set of philosophical assumptions that I strongly disagree with - the kind of philosophy that leads a person to lean far left (i.e. equality of outcome is a measure of good, redistribution is necessary and good, the purpose of an economy is to employ people, a group of elites can define and direct towards a common good, etc...).

Often, this would lead to a highly politicized book. But in this case, the author overlays economic realities with those
Frans Saxén
Nobel laureate Jean Tirole has written an impressive survey of the state of economics, as well as explanation of the modern market economy. Tirole reflects on both the reputation of economics ("The insistence on reality rather than fairytale is one reason why economics is often called 'the dismal science'") as well as that of the market economy ("The market makes relationships anonymous, but that is, in part, its purpose: it is supposed to free people from the economic power others can ...more
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meh... this was a bit too scattered and didn't delve deep into much of Tirole's research (granted, he is one of the most prolific economics researchers of the past 40 years, so it would take several books to go deep into his own research). The book covers topics that he has not written about professionally, as well. For the most part, he describes problems facing the economy and the economics profession today, and he usually ends discussing what we might want to consider when thinking about ...more
Feb 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-19
I found myself somewhat disappointed in this book. Maybe I'm a victim of my priors, but I found too much expression of economic orthodoxy. Although the author is aware of complexities & nuance, and frequently does express them well, often he presents a single, "correct", solution. When this happens in areas that I know are not as settled as portrayed, I inevitably wonder about those with which I'm less familiar.

As others have pointed out, this is less about the common good per se than the
Scott Ford
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
With Olivier Blanchard, past Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as a champion of this author's work prevalently promoted on the cover, I approached Economics for the Common Good with a keep-an-open-mind-remember-that-exposure-to-differing-perspectives-is-a-good-thing mindset. However, the viewpoints and reasoning within the book I found actually useful. Jean Tirole explains basic economic structures in clear language with good illustrations and then focuses his insight on ...more
Alex Telfar
Was ok. The intro and first couple of chapters got me excited. But the rest just read like a lot of facts and case studies. I am interested in more general/absract questions that dont seem to have answers yet (?);

- how to build an efficient market,
- the limits of (types of) regulation for ensuring efficient markets,
- what is the optimal way to allocate resources between innovation (explore) and production (exploit),
- how does an efficient market actually 'integrate' the information held by the
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Broad book on the societal value of economics. Most empahsis is on markets and competition. I was not interested in all topics, so I read parts diagonally.

p31 making good policy choices will take a lot of political courage

p130 voting by mail (ie making it easier to vote) actually decreased turn out in some Swiss cantons. Probably because the social pressure was removed, the need to show you are a good citizen.
Funk, Patricia. "Social incentives and voter turnout: evidence from the Swiss mail
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A broad and well-written description of the many facets of economics. As someone who went into this book knowing nearly nothing about economics, this book served as a good introduction to it all with Tirole's writing style keeping me engaged throughout the entire work. Alongside that this book also has an excellent commentary on how economics can best benefit society through Tirole's definition of the "common good". By far my favorite section was his writing on competition policy (pretty much ...more
Preethi Govindarajan
It is an accessible introduction to economics and he sets up his rationale for the writing the book well.
All the chapters are about essential and interesting things.
I do wish he had written in greater detail, at least the last five chapters which seem very pertinent:
Competition policy and industrial policy
How digitization is changing everything
Digital economics
Innovation and intellectual property
Sector regulation
Daniel Frank
Jean Tirole lays out all he knows (and most of what there is to know) about public economics. Tirole writes with humility, but his brilliance and depth of knowledge shine through. The world would be better off if everyone who writes about politics on Twitter was forced to read this book.

The last section (from page 353 on) is masterful.

Tianhang Hu
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was thinking about giving it a 4/4.5, because I think some of the discussions get very academic for a general audience (economic theories), although I don't mind them personally as a math and economics student.
I think Professor Tirole could have reduced his coverage on some of the issues (aka, the book is very lengthy), but overall, due to his care for humanity, I gave it a 5 star.
Edvard Johansson
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hope politicians read this!

Most of the contents are very familiar to the mainstream economist. However, I guess that the mainstream economist is not the one who is supposed to read this book. It is intended for others, and politicians in particular I suppose. And it would be fantastic if politicians read it! But to get them to read it is a different matter....
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The strongest points are beginning, where Tirole discusses his notion of what it means to do economic research, and those chapters where he covers areas that his own work touches on. His views on topics like climate change or labor markets seem reasonable but nothing novel.
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting overall. An great introduction to economics focused to many important practical matters. Some areas weren't so much to my interest, so the dry style made it a bit harder to read. Thankfully, all chapters can be read independently.
Dani Ollé
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good introductory text reviewing many different economic issues
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Educational and insightful. But writing is slightly dry
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Good one but hope each chapter could be extended in more details.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Slightly heavy reading. But a very important book that tries to demystify many concepts and at the same time propagates that economists need to play a bigger role in shaping the future. Instructive.
Fernando  Hoces de la Guardia
This is more a collection of essays than a cohesive but. But there are some really good essays in it, and are much worth a second read.
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“Not only are we subject to cognitive biases, we also frequently seek out things that reinforce them. We interpret facts through the prism of our beliefs; we read the newspapers and seek the company of people who will confirm us in those beliefs; and thus we stick obstinately to these beliefs, whether or not they are correct.” 1 likes
“When we think about an economic problem, the first answer that occurs to us is not always the correct one.” 1 likes
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