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Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science

(Naked)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  14,671 ratings  ·  1,021 reviews
“Explains our global economy in a way that is (gasp!) actually entertaining.”—Book Magazine

Finally! A book about economics that won’t put you to sleep. In fact, you won’t be able to put this bestseller down. In our challenging economic climate, this perennial favorite of students and general readers is more than a good read, it’s a necessary investment—with a blessedly su
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Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 19th 2010 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2002)
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Meg
A highly ideological piece masquerading as a non-controversial introduction to economics. Wheelan proclaims that economics is amoral and apolitical, and then goes on to give very detailed political descriptions about what government should be. He also seems attached to the false dichotomy of 'free' markets vs. communist state economies - though he does recognize that the neoconservative vision that markets will operate efficiently without government is, as he puts it, 'nonsense.'

I wanted to rea
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Christopher
Jun 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loveit
Why did the chicken cross the road? To maximize his utility!

If you like this joke as much as I do, congratulations! You're an uber-nerd, and this is the perfect book for you. If you don't like the joke, stay away from my parties. Either way, this book is a very thorough, very clear explanation of a good foundation of economic principles, written with the non-Economists among us in mind. Why are tariffs bad? In what ways are sweatshops good? Why does everyone care so much about interest rates, an
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Carl
Apr 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to feel smarter
"Charles Wheelan Tells It Like It Is" would be an equally appropriate title for this fucking awesome overview on all things economic in this world. As someone who's read more than a few of the popular economics books currently glutting the market, and as a economics major in college, I was skeptical that this book could teach me anything I didn't already know or entertain me with wry anecdotes. What surprised me was actually that: the wry anecdotes and useful explanations such as what "fast-trac ...more
Dan Phillips
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
When I got into the second half of this book, I was joking with Amy that the experience was threatening to turn me into a Republican. Which was especially odd since the beginning chapters made me realize instantly how politically agnostic the actual science of economics is. Like any discipline, it's just another framework through which one can view -- and hopefully understand -- the world. (And there are plenty of lefty economists out there -- I subscribe to Paul Krugman's blog already, so...)

I'
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Charles J
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sometimes I think it is a fool’s errand to study economics and hope for enlightenment. Much economics knowledge is too simple for that goal—for example, the relationship of supply and demand to prices. Such facts are easy to grasp through direct personal experience. But beyond that, actual enlightenment never comes, because, as everybody knows, economics is not a science. Economists can’t even analyze the past with any precision or unanimity, much less the future. Because I thought highly of the ...more
Serene
Apart from news articles, the last time I read any book on economics was high school. I found Naked Economics explained how Western (primarily US) economic systems worked in very simple, easy to understand language. Particularly in these troubled times, learning how the Federal Reserve and other government agencies try to tweak the economy to encourage fairness and stability. He is unabashedly pro-trade and explains his stance well, which helped me to understand it, though I can't say he address ...more
Ali Gilani
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book is an interesting primer on economics. It is no doubt ideological but the author has given strong arguments for the ideological position he has taken. The book, however, is limited as it is only good for understanding market based economy. It doesn't shed light on feudalism and tribal societies economics and the complex socio-political and economic relations such societies wield. Apart from such limitations, the book convincingly give arguments for free trade, globalization and market b ...more
Rosalie
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Scariest book I've read in a while. Econ for people who never took Econ in school, what were we thinking?! A good read for anyone, a must read for young adults. Start investing, kids.
Anima
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"One of the fallacies of poverty is that developing countries are poor because they have rapid population growth. In fact, the causal relationship is best understood going the other direction:Poor people have many children because the cost of bearing and raising children is low. Birth control, no matter how dependable,works only to the extent that families prefer fewer children. As a result, one of the most potent weapons for fighting population growth is creating better economic opportunities f ...more
Billie Pritchett
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
UPDATE (06/08/13):
I reread Charles Wheelan's Naked Economics, revisiting it now about four years later. It is still one of my favorite books, but I do have a more modest perspective of it now. I'll try to provide a better summary of Wheelan's book than I did four years ago.

A market economy is really just a name for the transaction of buying and selling goods and services, and the scarcer the goods and services and the more demand, the more people are willing to pay for them. This explains in par
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James Millikan SJ
Aug 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
If you are like me, you have a vague sinking feeling from not having the gumption to pick up, let alone complete, Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century. You know somewhere deep down inside that an impressive tome by an erudite French economist would be just the ticket to help you thoughtfully contribute to the conversation at that gathering of MBAs, or progressives, or rich relatives that you somehow find yourself attending over the year. But you also know that, given the choice b ...more
Adrian
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Great primer on the often dull world of economics. No charts, calculus, or arcane math, lots of good examples of problems and issues that we all are affected by but don't have much understanding of. Things like the Fed, interest rates, trade balances, taxes, etc are covered and made easy to process. My biggest problem is the lack of discussion of things like outsourcing, debt, and currency issues and how they are actually affecting our economy. I'd like to see a book that is not so theoretical o ...more
Kathy
Mar 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are interested in learning about economics but find the topic somewhat confusing and boring, this book breaks down the major concepts in a way that makes it interesting and understandable. Wheelan is a witty and sarcastic man which added greatly to his stories and real life examples he used when supporting topics within economics. I am highly interested in developmental economics and his chapter on this topic broke down common misconceptions that people may have about developing countries ...more
Ari von Nordenskjöld
Oct 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic economic primer which skillfully introduces the reader to the most important economic concepts in a humorous and mostly detached manner. There are of course some minor things that I would take issue with, especially some simplified categorizations - but I trust that Wheelan is quite aware of this and has not done this in order to shoehorn any of his own ideas, but rather to make life simpler for the reader. I'm now working my way through more complex books on economics, which ...more
Jeeministerofpartying
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
I would like to thank my AP Economics teacher for recommending such a piece of shit :) It was a time well spent!
Adam
Jul 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who buy things, Anti-capitalists, Kim Jong-Il, College Students, Irrational people
Recommended to Adam by: Nate
Grabbed this one from a friend, Nate, who kept a hold of it long after his Econ 101 course and, well, I'm glad he did!


Wheelan starts of by addressing the fact that many students who are forced to take Econ 101, or even do so by choice, are instantly turned away from the subject by dry texts, boring teachers and a heavy dependence on the mathematical aspects of the science.

In Naked Economics, Wheelan promises to not only offer a broad overview of this overlooked science but do so in turn without
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Yahia El gamal
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love how Charles Wheelan explains concepts. But sometimes I hate how he goes over and over about explaining some concepts.

The book is a great read to anyone who has any remote interest in how the world of economics works. This is the first economics-related book I read, but it won't be the last. It shows how economics affects global decisions (and how decisions affect economics) as well as the micro and individual level.

I feel so much enriched after reading the book, and I am going to read sl
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CherDuchess
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
The title itself of the book is intriguing, but reading the book is funnier than people would think just hearing the word “economics”, because lets face it for some students even professionals the topic economics is boring. This book is a surprise, I had fun reading this that I was not able to put it down. As Book Magazine said “Explains our global economy in a way that is (gasp!) actually entertaining.”, with that kind of review who in their right mind would not be allured in reading this book. ...more
Jessica Carol
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academic-life
For a book on economics I found this hilarious. It wasn't hilarious in the sense that he didn't know what he was talking about but hilarious in that he made writing about economics funny--his writing style is the key. He is very knowledgeable about his topic and I found myself thoroughly enjoying it because he didn't bore you. His writing was engaging, humorous, thorougly researched, instructive, and knowledgeable. If you want to learn more about economics I suggest this book.
Michael Cabus
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don’t consider myself ignorant of economics. I did in fact study economic history in college and did quite well in the one MBA course (accounting) I had to take for my graduate degree. Not that any of those qualifies me as an economist (or even impresses anyone) but I came to this book with some background. The part I did not really understand was economic policy. Before this book I only knew what politicians expounded upon around election season (typically a promise to lower taxes and a hint ...more
Brendan Grubb
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The most important thing to know about me and this review is that I love economics. If you would prefer to read a review by someone who was not predisposed to appreciate this book, then this is not the review for you. I had a feeling when I began this book that it would be one that I was almost guaranteed to enjoy it, and it did not disappoint.

That said, it earned a five-star rating for a reason. Everything in the book was thoroughly explained in a concise and understandable way, and Wheelan nev
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Sam Reaves
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Making economics accessible to the non-economist is a formidable task, but it's a crucial one in a democracy, because economic illiteracy is the bane of sound public policy, and the people shouting the loudest on both sides of the political divide are the ones most afflicted by it. I modestly consider myself reasonably economically literate, but I learned a good deal from this excellent layman's guide by The Economist's former Midwest correspondent.
There are, thankfully, no graphs or tables in t
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Marcy prager
Jun 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Economics has never been "my thing." I have never understood the way the economy runs in our country, or in the world. This book is great because there is no math or tables to study. It is a simple course, explaining the in's and out's of why global trade is good, why "creative destruction" for small businesses has to happen for the greater good of the economy, why real estate agents will move a seller's house quicker for less money than waiting for more money and a greater percentage, why "huma ...more
Eliot
Jul 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the best non-technical introduction to macroeconomics that I've found thus far. Wheelan explains the concepts clearly and in a fairly entertaining manner. Granted, I already have an undergraduate degree in economics, so I don't necessarily represent the target demographic for this book, but it'll be the first I recommend to anyone who wants to understand why I'm still in school.

It looks like many of the negative reviews here are from leftists complaining that the author has a rightward/
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يوسف زهدى
A good piece of work! either its your first time to read about economics, or you did read about it before or even if you are advanced with economics (like i expect myself) you'll still find the book beneficial and enjoyable.

The book is divided to 12 chapters each addressing one economic issue, starting by most common issues we see at our daily life to country level economics and linking its different variables, then integrating most of them in the last chapter through discussing factors of devel
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Weibo  Xiong
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
I would say this is the best book I've read in 2017. Most of us are already familiar with those economic concepts and views in this book (also covered by Econ 101). Unfortunately, fewer can explain them in such a clear, concise and entertaining way as Mr Wheelan does.

Excellent explanations always come from deep understanding and thoughtful insights. Mr Bernanke considers himself good at explaining things to people, which I totally agree. And so is Mr Wheelan, who is perhaps even doing better. I
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Maggie Sun
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: econ-finance
I learned more about how the economy works from this one book alone than from an entire year of college econ. The book uses case studies to intuitively illustrate economic principles, rather than relying on formulas, supply/demand curves, etc. Wheelan seems to be strongly pro-free markets, but his ideology doesn't detract from the nuanced exploration of how economics, politics, and information all intersect to explain why things operate the way they do.
Garima Mamgain
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books on macro economics I have read. The author has very clear preferences and thoughts. I may or may not agree with all of them but loved his practical way of explaining economics. Must read!
Gevorg Yeghikyan
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not bad for an introduction into the basic principles of economics. However, it's a highly ideologically motivated piece, saturated with an absolute belief in free market economy without any critical approach to the very axioms being taken for granted.
Lobstergirl
Jan 19, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, own
A basic and informative introduction to economics with no equations, charts, graphs, and not many numbers. Sometimes the breezy journalistic style gets annoying, but overall, a decent book.
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Charles Wheelan is a senior lecturer and policy fellow at the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College. He joined the Dartmouth faculty fulltime in June of 2012.

Wheelan’s most recent book, Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data, was released by W.W. Norton in January of 2013. Three weeks later, it reached the New York Times bestseller list for hardback nonfiction. The San Francisco Chr
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Other books in the series

Naked (3 books)
  • Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data
  • Naked Money: What It Is and Why It Matters

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“When I applied to graduate school many years ago, I wrote an essay expressing my puzzlement at how a country that could put a man on the moon could still have people sleeping on the streets. Part of that problem is political will; we could take a lot of people off the streets tomorrow if we made it a national priority. But I have also come to realize that NASA had it easy. Rockets conform to the unchanging laws of physics. We know where the moon will be at a given time; we know precisely how fast a spacecraft will enter or exist the earth's orbit. If we get the equations right, the rocket will land where it is supposed to--always. Human beings are more complex than that. A recovering drug addict does not behave as predictably as a rocket in orbit. We don't have a formula for persuading a sixteen-year-old not to drop out of school. But we do have a powerful tool: We know that people seek to make themselves better off, however they may define that. Our best hope for improving the human condition is to understand why we act the way we do and then plan accordingly. Programs, organizations, and systems work better when they get the incentives right. It is like rowing downstream.” 37 likes
“A market economy is to economics what democracy is to government: a decent, if flawed, choice among many bad alternatives.” 11 likes
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