What is the GDP, and what does it mean? Why does the stock market go down when interest rates go up? What causes a dreaded recession? Economics impacts everyone's life, but most people take on faith what they read in the newspaper. Now, for anyone who doesn't know much about economics, noted economist Todd Buchholz explains it all simply and clearly. With refreshing wit and irreverence, Buchholz takes listeners by the hand and reveals the basic rules behind everything from food prices to trade deficits. Instead of ...
What is the GDP, and what does it mean? Why does the stock market go down when interest rates go up? What causes a dreaded recession? Economics impacts everyone's life, but most people take on faith what they read in the newspaper. Now, for anyone who doesn't know much about economics, noted economist Todd Buchholz explains it all simply and clearly. With refreshing wit and irreverence, Buchholz takes listeners by the hand and reveals the basic rules behind everything from food prices to trade deficits. Instead of complicated graphs and charts he uses examples from contemporary life and popular culture to demonstrate the principles at work. By cutting through the arcane musings of academicians, the jargon of analysts and advisors, and the rhetoric of politicians, he gives us a precise and accessible understanding of economic ideas, actions, and consequences as they actually exist in the here and now. Here are some of the heretofore unintelligible ideas he helps us to understand: what causes or combats inflation, and why it is so feared; what moves stocks and bonds up and down-and how to invest wisely and safely; whether it is good or bad to "protect" America from foreign goods-and what happens when we do and when we don't; what exactly Social Security is, and whether government spending is good or bad-and how dangerous the national debt is or isn't. In today's confusing economic climate, it has never been more important for everyone from homemakers to small-business owners to individual investors and middle managers to understand the forces at work.
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While having a family dinner toward the end of May this year, the conversation turned to economics. At that point, my 11-year-old granddaughter, who had just finished the 5th grade, asked, ?What is economics?? Following the usual advice of parenting experts not to elaborate, I simply took out my notepad and wrote, ?Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources that have alternative uses,? leaving any further explanation to her parents. When the time is appropriate, I will enlarge on her question by using and sharing Buchholz?s book with her, believing that his treatment of economics is witty, concise, and understandable. For my intended purpose, it?s the best that I have encountered.
While most reviews dwell on content, I would like to focus on form and writing style. His form brings function to the subject of economics, rather than function preceding form. In the acknowledgments, he recognizes his wife and daughter first while most authors leave that recognition toward the last. Next, his introduction puts any fears the reader might have to rest ? he starts right off with his special brand of witticisms.
In looking at the design of the book, I was reminded of one of my father?s favorite sayings, ?Son, it?s put together right.? The book is divided into five parts with each part having two chapters except for part five, which has one chapter. At the beginning of each chapter, demarcated by bullets, is the areas covered within. All of the areas are in the form of a question, which holds true throughout the book. In the text each of these areas is again prefaced by one of the previously stated questions such as: ?What Is a Business Cycle?? Following this, Buchholz briefly and expressively gives the reader the answer. This particular style of design greatly enhances the reader?s experience.
Buchholz?s approach throughout the book is to work from the general to the particular ? from universals to specifics. He accomplishes this in an entertaining manner, akin to the humor of Dennis Miller?s metaphor-driven style, but much more on the gentle and amusing side. In his section on ?Why Isn?t There Just One Currency??, he gives as one reason: ?Why would the Brits want to trade in Queen Elizabeth?s noble chin for George Washington?s wooden-toothed grimace?? And as another reason, referring to Spain and Portugal sharing a currency: ?That would be like two patients in a doctor?s waiting room agreeing to take the same medication, even though they suffered from different ailments.?
In the last chapter, he gives a brief history of economic thought, or as he says, ?Who is responsible for all this?? After this comes his conclusion followed by an appendix in which he, being no namby-pamby economist, gives his opinion in captions like: ?The Top Five Economists.? This book is not dry economics; it is packed with spicy quips and quotes ? pure entertainment. No wonder Buchholz is in demand as a speaker on the banquet circuit. It?s strange that he hasn?t been a guest host on Saturday Night Live.
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