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January 29, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Books | January 29, 2009 |

I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable and well-read. Enough so, anyway, to make informed political decisions and discuss them with a degree of expertise. Before the election, in a discussion with my sister-in-law (who works for the government and is smarter than I) regarding the economic policies being proposed, it became clear that I was in over my head. I don’t like that feeling. Naked Economics is the book she recommended to remedy my ignorance.

In Naked Economics, Charles Wheelan has accomplished the impossible: he’s written a book on economics (“the dismal science”) that is an entertaining read. As the title would imply, he’s stripped down the basic concepts of economics — shunning mathematics, formulas, graphs, and cryptic terms — and explained things using common-sense terms, real-world examples and simple logic. Concepts from basic economic policy theory through government finance, from financial markets to the Federal Reserve are explained in layman’s terms. Wheelan explains, in a clear and non-biased manner, things like how recessions occur, can be prevented and can be reversed, the perils of inflation and control of the money supply, why Mc-fucking-Donald’s is successful enough to be the worldwide bane of my existence, and why Bill Gates is rich enough to abscond with me in the darkness and sell me into slavery at will.

Despite this “idiot’s guide” approach to the topic, the book never comes off as condescending, and never treats its reader like an idiot. It’s a thorough, entertaining and humorous discussion of Econ 101 that trades GDP equations for plain-English explanations and the kind of real-life anecdotes that made me think: “Oh, I get it!” Having read Naked Economics, I certainly feel more qualified to discuss economic policy with people at or above my intelligence level, at least in as much as I can state that “[proposed economic action/policy] is or is not a good idea because it could cause [result] and may incite [result] to happen” with a fair amount of confidence. Even a normal grasp of economics such as this will allow me to do one of my very favorite things: feel smarter than other people.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. Details are here and the growing number of participants and their blogs are here. And check here for more of Sean K’s reviews.

Cannonball Read / Sean K.

Books | January 29, 2009 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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