Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy

By Thomas Sowell | Go to book overview

be and how easy it is to lapse into familiar jargon. Avoiding these things has made it harder for me to write this book, but the whole point is to make it easier for you to read it.

What I have also learned over the years is that there are many highly intelligent people who want to understand more about the way their country's economy works, but who have no interest in the paraphernalia of the economics profession. This book is written for such people -- and also for those high school and college students who are taking introductory economics as part of their efforts to become educated women and men, not necessarily candidates to major in the subject. It is also written with the hope that some economists might discover how much of what they say in ways that are incomprehensible to outsiders could also be said in plain English.

In keeping with the nature of this book as an introduction to economics for the general public, I have left out the usual hundreds of footnotes or end-notes in some of my other books. However, those who wish to check up on some of the surprising facts they will learn about can find the sources listed at the end of the book. This will also be a place for those who simply wish to explore further in some subject that they find intriguing.

While it is advisable to understand the role of prices in a market economy before going on to other subjects, each chapter of this book has been written to stand alone, so that these chapters can be read in any order that your own interest dictates.

Although many of the examples of basic economic principles in action are drawn from market economies, such as that in the United States, many others are not. One of the best ways to understand what a market economy does is by seeing what happens when the same economic activity takes place in a non-market economy, such as that of the late Soviet Union. Economic experiences from every inhabited continent appear in the chapters that follow, for basic economic principles are not limited to any given society or people.

Thomas Sowell
Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow Hoover Institution Stanford University

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Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Chapter I - What Is Economics? 1
  • Part I - Prices 5
  • Chapter 2 - The Role of Prices 7
  • Chapter 3 - Price Controls 21
  • Chapter 4 - An Overview 39
  • Part II - Industry and Commerce 57
  • Chapter 5 - The Rise and Fall of Businesses 59
  • Chapter 6 - The Role of Profits -- and Losses 73
  • Chapter 7 - Big Business and Government 89
  • Chapter 8 - An Overview 105
  • Part III - Work and Pay 125
  • Chapter 9 - Productivity and Pay 127
  • Chapter 10 - Controlled Labor Markets 149
  • Chapter 11 - An Overview 167
  • Part IV - Time and Risk 173
  • Chapter 12 - Investment and Speculation 175
  • Chapter 13 - Risks and Insurance 193
  • Chapter 14 - An Overview 207
  • Part V - The National Economy 213
  • Chapter 15 - National Output 215
  • Chapter 16 - Money and the Banking System 223
  • Chapter 17 - The Role of Government 237
  • Part VI - The International Economy 267
  • Chapter 19 - International Trade 269
  • Chapter 20 - International Transfers of Wealth 283
  • Chapter 21 - An Overview 297
  • Part VII - Popular Economic Fallacies 303
  • Chapter 22 - Non-Economic Values 305
  • Chapter 23 - Prices and Purchasing Power 315
  • Chapter 24 - Business and Labor 329
  • Chapter 25 - An Overview 343
  • Sources 347
  • Index 359
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