Thursday, December 31, 2009

Book Review (#20 of 2009)

New Ideas from Dead Economists: An Introduction to Modern Economic Thought by Todd G. Buchholz (1990 edition, not the revised 2007 edition).

I learned an amazing amount from this book which will translate immediately into me teaching an amazing amount in a Jan term course on economic and financial thought in a few weeks.

Buchholz's history of economic thought is very readable with his witty humor. It definitely helps to have at least had some principles classes to completely understand the thoughts he explains, but he uses some simple explanations that are easy to follow. The history is great.

I now understand the syntheses of the economic schools more completely. My favorite line in the book is that "it is no longer possible to separate (modern, mainstream) economists into Keynesian and Monetarist camps." Both sides have learned from the other.

Buchholz pretty obviously has Keynesian readings (at least it was obvious to me) as he knocks a little too hard on the Monetarists and the Rational Expectations schools. But he's mostly fair (if not too simplistic) in his arguments.

This edition doesn't cover Behaviorialists or Austrians (although he mentions Hayek a few times). I assume the 2007 edition would include them and fix the typos I found.

In all, I give it 4 stars out of 5.

I bought this book for $1 several years ago and should have read it several years ago. That's been a recurring theme this year. :-(

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