December 3, 2014

Give the Gift of Economics: Mercatus 2014 Holiday Book Guide

Matthew D. Mitchell

Senior Research Fellow

Donald J. Boudreaux

Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Tyler Cowen

Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University

Christopher Coyne

Associate Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Virgil Storr

Board Member, Mercatus Center

Veronique de Rugy

George Gibbs Chair in Political Economy
Summary

This year, Mercatus scholars share the books they recommend as holiday gifts for anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of how economics plays a role in our everyday lives. While not a comprehensive, the resulting list features some of the greatest economic thinkers whose ideas continue to resonate today.

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Economics affects all walks of life, whether you’re purchasing gifts at the shopping mall or traveling to spend time with family. This year, Mercatus scholars share the books they recommend as holiday gifts for anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of how economics plays a role in our everyday lives. While not comprehensive, the resulting list features some of the greatest economic thinkers whose ideas continue to resonate today.

And it wouldn’t be the season of giving without a gift from us. By subscribing to Mercatus email newsletters, you could win a Kindle Paperwhite along with e-book copies of each book from this list. Sign up by December 17 to be considered for this offer in time for the holidays.

Free to Choose
by Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman

“With compassion, wit, and wisdom, Milton and Rose Friedman make the case that free societies—those in which people are ‘free to choose’ for themselves—are not just morally superior. They are also economically prosperous. The Friedmans were those rare economists who not only understood the theory and the data, but also how to communicate these ideas to a broader audience. As relevant as ever, their book is still one of the first things I tell people to read when they say they are interested in understanding the benefits of freedom.”

—Matthew Mitchell
Senior Research Fellow

Road to Serfdom
by F. A. Hayek

“F. A. Hayek's Road to Serfdom was a best seller in 1945 and again in 2010—which reveals both the importance and the timelessness of the countless insights contained in this profound book. No volume written in the twentieth century has done as much as this one either to teach people the merits of a free society or to inspire legions to work to protect freedom where it exists, to restore it where it has been lost, and to plant its seed where it has never yet grown.”

—Donald J. Boudreaux
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism

Wealth of Nations
by Adam Smith

“It is the best book on economics ever written, but more fundamentally one of the most profound tracts on government and political science as well. It is a deeper book every time I reread it.”

—Tyler Cowen
Chairman and General Director 

Economics in One Lesson
by Henry Hazlitt

“This wonderful book emphasizes that the ‘art of economics’ entails looking beyond the immediate, seen consequences of policies in order to appreciate the longer-term, unseen consequences. Hazlitt does a masterful job of showing how this straightforward, yet often neglected, insight can shed light on a wide range of policies.”

—Christopher Coyne
Associate Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics 

Governing the Commons
by Elinor Ostrom

“Elinor Ostrom’s Governing the Commons is a foundational text of the Bloomington school of political economy and part of the core curriculum of the Adam Smith Fellowship program as well as our other fellowship programs. It examines the dynamic relationship between individual choice and institutional context that leads to novel solutions to governance and collective action problems.”

—Virgil Storr
Director, Graduate Student Programs

The Law
by Frederic Bastiat

“There is a reason why we still read The Law by French economist Frederic Bastiat. It is timeless and packed with eternal truths. Better yet, it is written in a way that makes the most complicated concepts simple. Bastiat was a great communicator and a true champion of freedom.”

—Veronique de Rugy
Senior Research Fellow

 

 

MERCATUS BOOKS
Mercatus scholars work to bridge the gap between economic ideas in the academy and real-world problems. Below are books by Mercatus scholars and Graduate Student Programs alumni that examine economics and policy issues, ranging from technology to health care to consumer behavior.

 

Living Economics
by Peter Boettke

“Living Economics is in many ways a remarkable book. The volume luminously reflects the amazing breadth of Professor Boettke’s reading, and the deep and careful thoughtfulness with which he reads. But the true distinction of this volume consists in more than the profound economic understanding, and wealth of deeply perceptive doctrinal-history observations that fill its pages . . . ”

—Dr. Israel Kirzner
New York University Professor Emeritus
Keynote Speaker for “40 Years After the Nobel: F. A. Hayek and Political Economy as a Progressive Research Program

  

Consumer Credit and the American Economy
by Todd Zywicki, Thomas A. Durkin, Gregory Elliehausen, and Michael E. Staten

“This is a book for both professional economists who do and do not specialize in this field and for informed laypersons who want to understand better this important facet of the economy. For the first time a single work brings together the history, economics, sociology, law, and regulation of consumer credit markets and institutions. It will become the standard source and reference for questions of public policy in this important area.” 

—Timothy J. Muris 
George Mason University and Former Chairman, Federal Trade Commission

Permissionless Innovation: The Continuing Case for Comprehensive Technological Freedom
by Adam Thierer

“The hardest thing for government regulators to do is to regulate less, which is why the development of the open-innovation Internet was a rare achievement. The regulation the digital economy needs most now is for “permissionless innovation” to become the default law of the land, not the exception.”

—Gordon Crovitz
Wall Street Journal

  

Intellectual Privilege: Copyright, Common Law, and the Common Good
by Tom W. Bell

“In this lucid and persuasive work, Tom W. Bell makes the case for copyright rules that are closer to what the Framers had in mind, and better suited to today’s ‘packet-switched society.’ A must-read for anyone interested in (so-called) intellectual property.”

—Glenn Harlan Reynolds
Professor of Law, University of Tennessee College of Law

 

The Economics of Medicaid: Assessing the Costs and Consequences
edited by Jason Fichtner

“Even when a Medicaid recipient does get care, there is often little or no improvement to his or her actual health . . . The Economics of Medicaid: Assessing the Costs and Consequences cites a series of medical studies in which Medicaid patients who received care ultimately were no better off than the uninsured; in some cases, their health outcomes were worse.”

—Robert Graboyes and Mario Villarreal
Dallas Morning News

Out of Poverty
by Benjamin Powell

“During the holidays calls for boycotts of products made in sweatshops abound. Powell uses the tools of economics to show how these boycotts harm the very people they claim to help. This book not only demonstrates how the consistent and persistent application of economics can shed light on the wealth and poverty of societies. Anyone truly concerned with the plight of the poorest in the world should read this book.”

—Christopher Coyne
Associate Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics