Thursday, April 13, 2006

Recommended Readings

A student emails me:

Professor Mankiw,
I am a student at the University of Michigan concentrating in economics. We currently are using one of your textbooks for our ECON 102 class. I am writing to both commend you on the book, it has been by far the most well-written text I've used to this point, and also to ask for a recommendation on other reading. I am intrigued by the different economic theories--classical, keynesian, neo-keynesian, monetarist, etc--and was wondering if you could recommend any other books which cover/compare these theories, that I might enjoy as much as your text.
Thanks for your time.
For the specific topics you mention, I would read Paul Krugman's Peddling Prosperity. Today, Krugman is a columnist for the NY Times, where he writes more about politics than economics, and often with more vitriol than I find attractive. But back in the 1990s, he did a lot of writing for the general public about economics. Even when I didn't agree with it, I appreciated the clarity of his prose.

The other book I would recommend to you is Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom. It is not on precisely the topics you mention, but it would be a good balance for the Krugman book. Krugman is decidedly left of center, and Friedman is decidedly right of center.

About five years ago, I taught a Harvard freshman seminar, where we read ten books written by economists for broad audiences. The most popular book among the students was Capitalism and Freedom. Even the more left-leaning students who disagreed with Friedman's conclusions appreciated the sharp and precise writing. As one liberal student put it to me, "This is the point of view I have to figure out how to argue against."