Cover image for Basic economics : a common sense guide to the economy
Basic economics : a common sense guide to the economy
Sowell, Thomas, 1930-
Personal Author:
Fifth edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, [2015]

Physical Description:
ix, 689 pages ; 24 cm
A presentation of economics in plain language.

A presentation of economics in plain, straightforward language, without the jargon, graphs, or equations that dominate most other economic writings. This book is aimed at people with no previous study of the subject, namely the general public and beginning students in economics. Basic Economics illustrates economic principles with vivid examples from countries around the world, to make those principles memorable in a way that technical jargon or mathematical presentations may not. The fifth edition includes a new chapter on the reasons for large differences of income and wealth between nations. It also examines some popular explanations of these differences that will not stand up under scrutiny. This chapter, and the chapter on the history of economics itself, give the beginning student a larger context for understanding the role of economics.--From publisher description.
Part 1: Prices and markets. The role of prices ; Price controls ; An overview of prices -- Part 2: Industry and commerce. The rise and fall of businesses ; The role of profits--and losses ; The economics of big business ; Regulation and anti-trust laws ; Market and non-market economies -- Part 3: Work and pay. Productivity and pay ; Minimum wage laws ; Special problems in labor markets -- Part 4: Time and risk. Investment. ; Stocks, bonds and insurance ; Special problems of time and risk -- Part 5: The national economy. National output ; Money and the banking system ; Government functions ; Government finance ; Special problems in the national economy -- Part 6: The international economy. International trade ; International transfers of wealth ; International disparities in wealth -- Part 7: Special economic issues. Myths about markets ; "Non-economic" values ; The history of economics ; Parting thoughts.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library HB171 .S713 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The bestselling citizen's guide to economics

Basic Economics is a citizen's guide to economics, written for those who want to understand how the economy works but have no interest in jargon or equations. Bestselling economist Thomas Sowell explains the general principles underlying different economic systems: capitalist, socialist, feudal, and so on. In readable language, he shows how to critique economic policies in terms of the incentives they create, rather than the goals they proclaim. With clear explanations of the entire field, from rent control and the rise and fall of businesses to the international balance of payments, this is the first book for anyone who wishes to understand how the economy functions.

This fifth edition includes a new chapter explaining the reasons for large differences of wealth and income between nations.

Drawing on lively examples from around the world and from centuries of history, Sowell explains basic economic principles for the general public in plain English.

Author Notes

Thomas Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author of dozens of books and the recipient of various awards, including the National Humanities Medal, Presented by the President of the United States in 2003.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In this fifth edition of his best-selling introductory economics book, Sowell (Hoover Institution) updates his presentation and discussion of several topics from the fourth edition (CH, May'11, 48-5211). For example, the chapter previously called "Controlled Labor Markets" has been changed to "Minimum Wage Laws." While modifications like this do not reflect a significant change in content, they do indicate that Sowell is paying attention to what readers are interested in and providing them with more focused content. This is most evident in the one entirely new chapter titled "International Disparities in Wealth." While the new chapter does a good job covering the role played by geography, culture, human capital, population size, and imperialism, it is disappointing that Sowell does not touch on the role of institutions in economic development. Douglass North's Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance (CH, May'91, 28-5186) and Acemoglu and Robinson's Why Nations Fail (CH, Sep'12, 50-0390) have shown the important role that political and economic institutions play in economic development. Failing to include them mars what is otherwise an excellent revision to an already highly regarded book. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. --Joshua C. Hall, West Virginia University

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