Resources for Reading / Discussion of Economics

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by gtrfinder, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. gtrfinder

    gtrfinder Supporting Member

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    I'd like to do some reading on the subject of economics. Doesn't have to be macro or micro, US or global in nature. Just interesting resources to pull from and read. Short of starting with "Wealth of Nations", does anyone here have links to blogs, podcasts, or literature on the subject that they feel is useful or entertaining? Although I have an interest in this subject, I am admittedly not an economist, nor do I plan on substituting this for some sort of real education via university or something like that. I'm just interested in the subject in general and would like some resources to read or listen to at my leisure.
     
  2. pcutt

    pcutt Member

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    zerohedge.com
     
  3. sundog964

    sundog964 Supporting Member

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    What do you want to learn about economics? More on the personal level? Business economics? Local, state, national, or international? Huge subject. Sort of like asking "I want to learn about music."

    I read "The Economist", and a number of other publications. Also had some courses in college as a foundation for the understanding. One of the problems with economics it that is highly theoretical, and has splintered into a way to support an ideology of one sort or another.

    I'm currently fascinated with the concept of unbalanced national deficits, and the belief by many economists that it isn't relevant to future economies.
     
  4. Skeet skeet!

    Skeet skeet! Member

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    I am no expert, studied economics and finance into my 3rd year of university and found it interesting.

    One of the most prevalent human behaviour models that has created a potential new foundation for economic strategy is Nash's Equilibrium.

    Some basic 'intro to game theory' and 'competetive strategy' courses introduce Nash's Equilibrium as a foundation for understanding how firms do things like set pricing and co-operate with competitors.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nash_equilibrium

    The basic idea is that if there is a non-cooperative game (the open market), with businesses that try to maximize profits through changing their strategies and understanding the strategies of other competitors. Most games will reach an equilibrium where each business no longer change any of their competitive variables (such as prices or production volume) because once they reach equilibrium changing one of these variables will result in lower payoffs/profits.

    Mathematicians and scientists had long scoffed at the notion there could be a robust counterfactual theory in the humanities discipline. Nash's equilibrium is proof that there is at least one. (somewhat paradoxically produced by a mathematician).

    Nash's equilibrium is incredibly broad in its application. It is somewhat clumsily introduced in the hollywood film about John Nash: A Beautiful Mind.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
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  5. quilsaw

    quilsaw Supporting Member

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    @babybatter Cool, I've meant to get around to reading up on that myself...still there's little question (in my mind) that, to the extent that psychological factors are always at play, much of the "science" of economics can be very difficult to quantify or model. At best, it seems we can describe a range of vectors of influence and, of course, more general context, but how individual actors behave (or respond to fear/greed), even considered en masse, depends on such diverse factors, such as conditioning, market momentum, technological innovation, popular culture, political forces, demographics, et al.

    It is fascinating, of course, but it also seems that we've entered into a whole new paradigm in recent years, where traditional pricing and demand models, for instance, just don't seem work as they "should". Most models, Nash's included, make assumptions with regard to both the "rationality" of actors and the availability of (factual) information, but we only need to hang around TGP for a day or two to realize that both are usually suspect. (YMMV, lol)

    I could argue that today, perhaps, we need to develop models where all actors are: intentionally misinformed about their future prospects, psychological conditioned to want what they don't need, convinced that they'll live forever, believe that "facts" are always a matter of personal preference, and that, if all else fails, the government should (and will) bail them out. Oh, and incidentally, all of the above is taking place in a market where the "value of money" is to be constantly and continually manipulated. Now, that's what I call the foundation of an efficient market place. :)

    Not sure any of that helps the OP, but I might throw out a few additional references for what I would consider to be most relevant to current conditions. Of course, it is often difficult to distinguish between the subject of economics from that of "political economics", but what else is new.

    The Death of Money (Rickards)
    Anti-Fragile (Talib) (also Fooled by Randomness)
    The Great Deformation (Stockman)
    Fault Lines (Rajan)
    The Only Game in Town (El-Erian)

    A few blogs to check out: (2nd on zerohedge, btw)
    The Big Picture (Ritholtz)
    Thoughts (Pims)
    Marginal Revolution (Cowen and Tabarrok)
     
  6. ChazFromCali

    ChazFromCali Member

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    Collected Works of Frederick Bastiat - So much common sense it will make your head hurt.
     
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  7. RupertB

    RupertB Supporting Member

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    Barry Ritholt's blog "The Big Picture" www.ritholtz.com
    The Economist magazine (online & hardcopy)
    Michael Lewis's books: The Big Short, Flash Boys, Liar's Poker, Boomerang, Panic, etc.
     
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  8. Skeet skeet!

    Skeet skeet! Member

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    Yes, peoples strategies are rarely complete and are often made relatively 'in the dark'; without proper study of the strategies being implemented around them. And yes most plans are often an amalgamation of unrefined ambitions or fears.
    I dont think anyone would contest the fact that there are many subtle psychological factors in any kind strategy, economic or not. This is a supporting argument regarding the difficulty for those studying humanities to create a robust predictive formula. Paul Bloom asserts that we are really in our infancy in studying human psychology and our ability to predict human behaviour with psychological models and tools is still very rudimentary. While explanatory models often hold fast in math and science, most of our models of psychology do not age as well.

    Nash's equilibrium has been used to predict things like traffic patterns, and the birth rates of fig wasps. While there are always people that function inefficiently, that general trend to efficiency can be seen in broader data, and the equilibrium in things like finding efficient traffic routes often do in fact arise.
    N.E. has aslo been more robust in explaining some other economic phenomenon like the fact that companies in perfectly competitive markets do in fact earn profits. In traditional economic models, 'perfectly competitive' markets are supposed to reach zero profitability by continually slashing their prices to steal all the business from the other retailers. In the real world, this almost never happens: gas retailers make profits, despite the fact that the traditional supply and demand curves state that they should keep moving towards zero profitability. They reach nash equilibrium by going 'hey man we cant all just keep slashing prices until we price ourselves out of our own business. Lets stop lowering our prices and see if the other retailers follow suit'.

    I have a lot of concerns that the whole Adam Smith foundation of economic uptrending is horse puckey and that the model only worked when resources and or people were exploited. There is a video made by a billionaires heir that made one interesting point: all the children of Rothchilds and other multibillion dollar enterprises all got there with some seriously underhanded and often flat out illegal activities. Now we know about the value of carbon emissions, about trying to exploit labour in 3rd world nations, and we also know (according to Robert Reich) that household wealth in US and Canada has been on a decline for nearly 50 years.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
  9. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    This will probably sound pedantic, but tough to substitute for a intro level macro econ course.

    I've taught macro in the past and had a ton of fun with it. Some of the concepts seem to be harder to stick than others.

    I used this guy because he is over the top goofy, but does a good job explaining the main concepts. If you watch his vids, you will get a tutorial on some of the basics.

    https://www.youtube.com/user/ACDCLeadership
     
  10. MoPho

    MoPho Pho Shizzle Silver Supporting Member

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    Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" and Milton Friedman's "Free to Coose". I enjoyed my banking economics classes quite a bit way back in the day but those were text books.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
  11. pjrhd28

    pjrhd28 Silver Supporting Member

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    Right freakin' here on the Gear Page....

    We got experts on EVERYTHING
     
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  12. quilsaw

    quilsaw Supporting Member

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    s
    Thanks BB for the thoughtful reply...interesting thoughts, but, as I noted, it's hard to distinguish or control where economics leaves off and "political economics" steps forward. Admittedly, introducing issues such as externalities, "fairness", and/or "the commons" will, inevitably, lead to a transition into politics and/or "values" (aka religion), but I ain't gonna go there. Of course, I agree that these (largely) subjective perspectives certainly have their effect on the workings of the economy, perhaps even as much as a Kardashian twitter/instagram/periscope-feed. But, I'd rather bet on the Kardashian's having a bigger influence on whether or not Apple will introduce a new iPhone next year. Just sayin'.

    As for the rest, I place far less faith in psychology (as a science) than I do in economics, which - as a practitioner of sorts - I have to concede to being more akin to a black art. For the OP, I'll go one more step back from Adam Smith and suggest that economics is the bulk of what we must do to avoid the following...

    "Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short." - Hobbes​

    Ha, got that right...next up a review of famous "economist's rigs" ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
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  13. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    ooh! i know the answer to this!

    after weeks of daily binging on podcasts of "freakonomics", i've learned that what you're talking about is behavioral economics, which looks at what people actually do whether it's a good idea or not, as opposed to the classical model of perfectly rational people all doing what they should do to maximize their own interests.

    highly recommended from a lay person interested in this stuff.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
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  14. Cb

    Cb Member

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  15. Quantum Cat

    Quantum Cat Member

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    Milton Friedman. There's a series of you tubes of him talking to college students and other groups. He is/was awesome.
     
  16. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

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    And don't let a weekend pass without reading Barron's. I get it every Saturday and read it cover to cover.

    Best of breed IMO.
     
  17. Ravindave_3600

    Ravindave_3600 Member

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    Mises, Ludwig von. He understood how it works, without too much theoretical, untestable dogma weighing him down.
     

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