December 11, 2013

The 2013 Mercatus Holiday Book Guide

The Editors

Summary

With just two short weeks until Christmas, there’s still time to get the perfect gift for the policy wonk in your life. These Mercatus Center books fit together as an economist’s macro wish list, but they also work as individual stocking stuffers for anyone interested in today’s important policy debates, economic theory, and classical liberal philosophy.

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With just two short weeks until Christmas, there’s still time to get the perfect gift for the policy wonk in your life. These Mercatus Center books fit together as an economist’s macro wish list, but they also work as individual stocking stuffers for anyone interested in today’s important policy debates, economic theory, and classical liberal philosophy.


Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation

By Tyler Cowen  

If you want one of the most talked about economics books in 2013, look no further than Tyler Cowen’s Average is Over. Cowen’s follow-up to his New York Times bestseller The Great Stagnation acts as a user's guide to living and prospering despite new and growing inequality. [Buy on Amazon]


Liberalism and Cronyism: Two Rival Political and Economic Systems

By Randall Holcombe and Andrea Castillo

By examining how real governments have operated, this book demonstrates why—despite their diverse designs—in practice all political and economic systems are variants of either liberalism or cronyism. [Buy on Amazon]


Regulation: A Primer

By Susan Dudley and Jerry Brito 

There are currently over a million restrictions from federal regulations affecting nearly every area of our lives, yet many people have no idea how regulations are developed or how they cost us money, jobs, and time. Regulation: A Primer by Susan Dudley and Jerry Brito provides an accessible overview of regulatory theory, analysis, and practice. [Buy on Amazon]


Dodd-Frank: What It Does and Why It’s Flawed

Edited by Hester Peirce and James Broughel  

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is the longest and most complex piece of financial legislation in American history. Taking a hard look at the law’s celebrated objectives, this book reveals that Dodd-Frank not only fails to achieve many of its stated goals, it also creates dangerous regulatory pathologies that could lay the groundwork for the next crisis. [Buy on Amazon]


House of Cards: Reforming America’s Housing Finance System

By Dwight Jaffe, Arnold Kling, Peter Wallison, Lawrence J. White, Michael Leah, Edward Glasser, and edited by Satya Thallam

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac played a crucial role in inflating America’s housing bubble. Now that the bubble has burst and their mistakes have resulted in huge taxpayer losses, it’s time to address the problems inherent to them. In this compendium, six leading mortgage and real-estate finance scholars present their proposals to reform America’s housing finance system in ways that are productive yet sensitive to the fragile state of the current recovery. [Buy on Amazon]


Living Economics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

By Peter Boettke

This lively book illuminates how economics affects all walks of life, whether in the marketplace, voting booth, church, family, or any human activity. A consummate teacher, Boettke shows that economics is not merely a game to be played by clever professionals but a discipline that touches on the most pressing practical issues at any historical juncture. [Buy on Amazon]


Doing Bad By Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Fails

By Christopher Coyne

Doing Bad by Doing Good uses the economic way of thinking to focus on the constraints and realities facing humanitarians. In a field littered with the unintended consequences of good intentions, this book explains how and why humanitarian efforts not only fail but, in a twist of tragic irony, impose harms on those who are already suffering. [Buy on Amazon]


Institutional Diversity and Political Economy

By Paul Dragos Aligica

Building on the work of Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom, Aligica challenges standard assumptions that homogenize and normalize individuals, ultimately showing how heterogeneity is a resource for a self-governing society of free individuals. Aligica discusses some of the most challenging ideas emerging out of the research program on institutional diversity associated with Ostrom and her associates, while outlining a set of new research directions and an original interpretation of the significance and future of this program. [Buy on Amazon]


The Clash of Economic Ideas: The Great Policy Debates and Experiments of the Last Hundred Years

By Lawrence H. White  

For every movement, there is an equal and opposite counter-movement—or just about. As White shows in The Clash of Economic Ideas, behind movements and counter-movements in economic policy lies an ongoing and dramatic clash of economic ideas. He interweaves the economic history of the last hundred years with the history of economic doctrines to understand how contrasting ideas have originated and developed over time to become the ideas we encounter today. [Buy on Amazon]


Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World

By Deirdre McCloskey

Deirdre McCloskey explains how our modern world was not the product of new markets and innovations, but rather the result of shifting opinions about them. During this time, talk of private property, commerce, and even the bourgeoisie itself radically altered, becoming far more approving and flying in the face of prejudices several millennia old. Bourgeois Dignity is a feast of intellectual riches from one of our most spirited and ambitious historians—a work that will forever change our understanding of how the power of persuasion shapes our economic lives. [Buy on Amazon]

For more recommendations, see the Holiday PPE Reading List.