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Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (2002)

by Charles Wheelan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,3002010,674 (4)6
Naked Economics makes up for all of those Econ 101 lectures you slept through (or avoided) in college, demystifying key concepts, laying bare the truths behind the numbers, and answering those questions you have always been too embarrassed to ask. For all the discussion of Alan Greenspan in the media, does anyone know what the Fed actually does? And what about those blackouts in California? Were they a conspiracy on the part of the power companies? Economics is life. There's no way to understand the important issues without it. Now, with Charles Wheelan's breezy tour, there's no reason to fear this highly relevant subject. With the commonsensical examples and brilliantly acerbic commentary we've come to associate with The Economist, Wheelan brings economics to life. Amazingly, he does so with nary a chart, graph, or mathematical equation in sight--certainly a feat to be witnessed firsthand. Economics is a crucial subject. There's no way to understand the important issues without it. Now, with Charles Wheelan's breezy tour, there's also no reason to fear it. "Explains our global economy in a way that is--gasp!--actually entertaining." --Book "Translates the arcane and often inscrutable jargon of the professional economist into language accessible to the inquiring but frustrated layman.... Clear, concise, informative, [and] witty." --Chicago Tribune "Wheelan has an anti-Midas touch. If he touched gold he would turn it to life." --Burton G. Malkiel, from the foreword… (more)
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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Economics texts to me are generally really, really wordy and my main thought while reading them is to edit, edit, edit. I love the real world examples but the principles are pretty dull. I needed a refresher in the world of straight economics (where the rules hold rather than break) and who better to turn to than the man who made statistics exciting (see Naked Statistics).

If you’re a fan of Freakonomics, you will enjoy the more in-depth approach by Wheelan. He uses examples that are applicable to real life (and also sometimes hilarious) to explain economic principles and then build on them. Want to know about incentives and how to get people to do what you want? (Or why they won’t do it?) Chapter 3 is your friend and I promise, does not overuse the term ‘maximise utility’. There is also the economics of information, which goes into why health economics bends the rules (reason: you know too much when it comes to health insurance but not enough when it comes to treatments) and two chapters on government and economics. Yes, I know it sounds boring, but government (even flawed) can be helpful in the economic field to ensure your welfare (and to build undercover car parks in really rainy areas). I also liked the chapter on international economics, trade and the Federal Reserve as it helped me to understand the basics of how and why trade makes me better off. (It means I can have my choice of computer, lipstick or phone made by those who know best what they are doing).

Another great thing about Naked Economics is the lack of graphs and equations. No random unlabelled curves or lines or proofs but good examples that make you say when reading the news, ‘Hey! That is completely the wrong thing to do when the economy is in recession!’ or why globalisation is a useful thing or why workers in developing countries choose to work in sweatshops.

If you’re unfamiliar with economics or in need of a refresher in the subject, Wheelan’s book is excellent. It’s interesting, funny and teaches you while you’re not even thinking about it.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | Nov 12, 2019 |
Facile and shallow. However, it did remind me that I want to dig into that more substantive work, "Economism", by James Kwak. ( )
1 vote themulhern | Jul 19, 2018 |
VERY interesting and easy to understand. Author seemed very unbiased politically and stated the pros and cons of both ways of thinking on the economics of our country and a global level. I believe I learned more from this book than anything I've read in a long time! ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
VERY interesting and easy to understand. Author seemed very unbiased politically and stated the pros and cons of both ways of thinking on the economics of our country and a global level. I believe I learned more from this book than anything I've read in a long time! ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
Great book on basic economics, his views are a bit left of center on many issues but still presents basic economic principles in a very good manner ( )
  JaredChristopherson | Nov 16, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Wheelanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Malkiel, Burton G.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It is widely believed that Scotsman Thomas Carlyle labeled economics the "dismal science" well over one hundred years ago because it seemed boring, uninteresting, unclear, and full of "on the one hand, on the other hand."
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Naked Economics makes up for all of those Econ 101 lectures you slept through (or avoided) in college, demystifying key concepts, laying bare the truths behind the numbers, and answering those questions you have always been too embarrassed to ask. For all the discussion of Alan Greenspan in the media, does anyone know what the Fed actually does? And what about those blackouts in California? Were they a conspiracy on the part of the power companies? Economics is life. There's no way to understand the important issues without it. Now, with Charles Wheelan's breezy tour, there's no reason to fear this highly relevant subject. With the commonsensical examples and brilliantly acerbic commentary we've come to associate with The Economist, Wheelan brings economics to life. Amazingly, he does so with nary a chart, graph, or mathematical equation in sight--certainly a feat to be witnessed firsthand. Economics is a crucial subject. There's no way to understand the important issues without it. Now, with Charles Wheelan's breezy tour, there's also no reason to fear it. "Explains our global economy in a way that is--gasp!--actually entertaining." --Book "Translates the arcane and often inscrutable jargon of the professional economist into language accessible to the inquiring but frustrated layman.... Clear, concise, informative, [and] witty." --Chicago Tribune "Wheelan has an anti-Midas touch. If he touched gold he would turn it to life." --Burton G. Malkiel, from the foreword

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W.W. Norton

3 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393324869, 0393049825, 0393337642

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