Monday, 26 May 2003

Economics

Listening to:

Beethoven, symphony no. 7 in A, Op. 92. I first heard (or first consciously heard) this symphony while I was an exchange student in Japan in 1988. I was absolutely blown away by the amazing second movement, and was not surprised to later learn that the audience at the symphony’s premiere demanded that this movement be encore-d.

Just read:

Paul Samuelson, Economics.

This is an interesting and effective introduction to the subject of economics. I had no solid knowledge of the area prior to reading this text, so I can't judge it in comparison to other expositions. Nonetheless, in terms of simply teaching me stuff I didn't know before, Samuelson does a very good job. I'd say that the weakest chapter is the one where Samuelson himself admits that there are still definite controversies, on the nature of capital. He explains the problem of re-switching well, but doesn't really nail down just what capital really is. Do factory inventories count as capital or not? Sometimes he suggests that they do, and at other times what he says suggests that they don't.

Elsewhere, I really liked the sections on micro-economics, macro-economics, and international trade. In all cases, I felt I learnt things, and I now feel that much more informed about an important aspect of the modern world.

I'm also now quite curious about how this text may have been updated since this edition was published. Has economics figured out a cure for stagflation, and what is now the consensus on pure floating exchange rates (which were relatively new to the world in 1981 after the collapse of the Bretton Woods managed rates scheme)?

To read next:

Tim Flannery, The eternal frontier: an ecological history of North America and its peoples.

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