Entries Tagged 'Economics and Investing' ↓

Two Mystery Books Connected With Economics

Fatal Equilibrium by Marshall Jevons (Ballentine Books 1985)

Fatal Equilibrium I reviewed Marshall Jevons’ (pseudonym for two economists’) first book, Murder at the Margin, a couple years ago. I sent for the sequel, Fatal Equilibrium, but was sorely disappointed.

Fatal Equilibrium has a few moments of levity, but overall it lacks the delightful explorations of economic theory in response to a murder when Professor Henry Spearman and his wife are vacationing on a remote Caribbean island resort.

On the contrary, Fatal Equilibrium is didactic, cerebral, and as bloodless as the murder of its main character, Dennis Gossen, a quite unlikeable tenure candidate in the Economics Department at Harvard University.

Unfortunately, if you’re a fan of Harvard or Cambridge, Massachusetts you won’t see either place in this book—the only memorable setting for Henry Spearman’s economic thoughts is at the clothing sales melee in the basement of Filene’s Department Store. Continue reading →

What’s Really Wrong with Piketty’s Capital?

Are you wondering whether to read Thomas Piketty’s 700-page book or give it to a loved one this holiday season?

I was too.

So I picked it up in Barnes & Noble while having coffee with my partner. As is my habit with new books, I checked the index first.

The book flunked my first test. Its index was only 15 pages, a mere two percent of the total book pages.

Given that Capital in the Twenty-First Century looks like a groundbreaking economics text, one that’s already creating discussion, the index should have been at at least 50 pages (or seven percent of the book).

Then I looked at the 35-page Introduction. The first paragraph left me cold. I stopped reading right then and there. As intensely as I care about the distribution of wealth and income inequality, I wasn’t interested in proving Karl Marx wrong or Simon Kuznets right. Continue reading →

What’s Really Wrong with Speculation?

The word “speculator” has often been conflated with “entrepreneur,” and both of them tarred with the brush of “con men”.

However, there is a good connotation for entrepreneurs. They are viewed as risk-takes who create new products and businesses. Speculators are seen as risk-takers solely out to make money. But is speculation really a bad thing?

How do economists view speculators? Here’s how one economist sees them. Continue reading →