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Thread: What should every aspiring economist read?

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    What should every aspiring economist read?

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    I've finished with all of my applications so I've got some free time until the spring semester starts and I'm looking for something to read. So i was wondering, what do you think every aspiring economist should read? I'm not looking for PhD prep books, just suggestions for some good books either in or related to the field of economics. Thanks!

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    UW bound! Econtastic's Avatar
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    The Worldly Philosophers by Robert Heilbroner, a must read for any economist in my opinion. The Worldly Philosophers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage GymShorts's Avatar
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    If you haven't taken a class in game theory, then Thinking Strategically.

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    We had a similar thread over the summer: http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-econo...mer-reads.html (Summer Reads)
    Also recommend Passion and Craft.

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    This may be a bit unpopular, but learn some history of economic thought. When you do you will realize that many of the "novel" ideas in recent years are 100+ years old, only now they have more formal math. After Krugman won the Nobel, I was talking to one of my profs who has done a lot of HET work, who said that almost every idea of Krugman's was actually around 100-150 years old, but Krugman and most of the profession never realized it because they don't know HET (though the prof did admit that Krugman added a formal mathematical model). Also, this prof is a URPE member, so it is not some Krugman hating Austrian or supply-sider saying this. For another example, some behavioral economists talk about this "new" idea that stock market traders sometimes trade just for the thrills and not because they are trying to make money. However, Adam Smith himself made references to such a concept. Some members of the German Historical School in the late 19th century already developed some of the framework later used in Law and Economics. There are quite a few more examples of this.

    There are even books on the history of mathematical methods (Gram and Walsh 1980 comes to mind), so it is not all just some historical philosophy fluff as many tend to think of HET. Learning some basic HET will give you a better understanding of the economic concepts and where they are coming from.

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage asianeconomist's Avatar
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    The Pens have been lifted and the Pages have dried. - recorded by At Tirmidhee.

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    I also agree with zshfryoh1. You may not specialize in History of Econ Thought but reading it certainly will give you a broader economic perspective. I enjoyed this book, it's quite good. I recommend it.

    Amazon.com: History of Economic Thought: A Critical Perspective: E. K. Hunt: Books

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    TestMagic Outlier buckykatt's Avatar
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    Some of direct relevance:

    Elster, Nuts & Bolts for the Social Sciences
    Klamer, Conversations with Economists
    McCloskey, Rhetoric of Economics
    Stigler, Economist as Preacher
    Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolutions

    Some of my personal favorites, in no particular order:

    Smith, The Wealth of Nations (Book I, at least)
    Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
    Becker, The Economic Approach to Human Behavior
    Braudel, Civilization & Capitalism
    E.O. Wilson, On Human Nature
    Friedman, Capitalism & Freedom

    Below are some journal articles--drawn from bibliography I happen to have handy, so not representative by any means. (Also see the Becker book above for a collection of some of his best). They're a mixture of readable classics, useful summaries, and musing about methodology...

    Armen A. Alchian, “Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory,” The Journal of Political Economy 58, no. 3 (June 1950): 211-221

    Armen A Alchian and Harold Demsetz, “Production, Information Costs, and Economic Organization,” The American Economic Review 62, no. 5 (December 1972): 777-795.

    Kenneth J. Arrow, “A Difficulty in the Concept of Social Welfare,” The Journal of Political Economy 58, no. 4 (August 1950): 328-346.

    Kenneth E. Boulding, “Economics as a Moral Science,” The American Economic Review 59, no. 1 (1969): 1-12.

    Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, “Walrasian Economics in Retrospect,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 115, no. 4 (November 2000): 1411-1439.

    R. H Coase, “The Nature of the Firm,” Economica 4, no. 16, 2 (November 1937): 386-405.

    R. H Coase, “The Problem of Social Cost,” Journal of Law and Economics 3 (October 1960): 1-44.

    David Colander, “The Making of an Economist Redux,” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 19, no. 1 (Winter 2005): 175-198.

    Harold Demsetz, “The Exchange and Enforcement of Property Rights,” Journal of Law and Economics 7 (October 1964): 11-26.

    Steven N. Durlauf, What Should Policymakers Know About Economic Complexity? (Santa Fe Institute, October 1997), RePEc, What Should Policymakers Know About Economic Complexity?.

    Milton Friedman and L. J Savage, “The Utility Analysis of Choices Involving Risk,” The Journal of Political Economy 56, no. 4 (August 1948): 279-304.

    F. A. Hayek, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” The American Economic Review 35, no. 4 (September 1945): 519-530.

    J. R. Hicks, “Mr. Keynes and the "Classics"; A Suggested Interpretation,” Econometrica 5, no. 2 (April 1937): 147-159.

    Harold Hotelling, “Stability in Competition,” The Economic Journal 39, no. 153 (March 1929): 41-57.

    Daniel Kahneman, “A Psychological Perspective on Economics,” The American Economic Review 93, no. 2 (May 2003): 162-168.

    Paul Krugman, “Two Cheers for Formalism,” The Economic Journal 108, no. 451 (November 1998): 1829-1836.

    Robert E. Lucas, “Nobel Lecture: Monetary Neutrality,” The Journal of Political Economy 104, no. 4 (August 1996): 661-682.

    N. Gregory Mankiw, “A Quick Refresher Course in Macroeconomics,” Journal of Economic Literature 28, no. 4 (December 1990): 1645-1660.

    Stephen A. Marglin, “What Do Bosses Do? The Origins and Functions of Hierarchy in Capitalist Production,” Review of Radical Political Economics 6, no. 2 (Summer 1974): 60-112.

    Donald [Deirdre] N McCloskey, “The Loss Function Has Been Mislaid: The Rhetoric of Significance Tests,” The American Economic Review 75, no. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the Ninety-Seventh Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (May 1985): 201-205.

    Donald [Deirdre] N. McCloskey, “Economic Science: A Search Through the Hyperspace of Assumptions?,” Methodus 3, no. 1 (1991): 6-16.

    Elinor Ostrom, “Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms,” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 14, no. 3 (Summer 2000): 137-158.

    A. C. Pigou, “Newspaper Reviewers, Economics and Mathematics,” The Economic Journal 51, no. 202/203 (September 1941): 276-280.

    Martin Shubik, “Game Theory and Operations Research: Some Musings 50 Years Later,” Operations Research 50, no. 1 (January 2002): 192-196.

    John J Siegfried and Wendy A Stock, “The Market for New Ph.D. Economists in 2002,” The American Economic Review 94, no. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the One Hundred Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association San Diego, CA, January 3-5, 2004 (May 2004): 272-285.

    Herbert A. Simon, “Rationality in Psychology and Economics,” The Journal of Business 59, no. 4 (October 1986): S209-S224.

    Robert M. Solow, “Does Economics Make Progress?,” Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 36, no. 3 (December 1982): 13-31.

    George J Stigler, “The Conference Handbook,” The Journal of Political Economy 85, no. 2 (April 1977): 441-443.

    George J. Stigler and Gary S. Becker, “De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum,” The American Economic Review 67, no. 2 (March 1977): 76-90.

    Joseph E. Stiglitz, “The Causes and Consequences of The Dependence of Quality on Price,” Journal of Economic Literature 25, no. 1 (March 1987): 1-48.

    Robert Sugden, “Spontaneous Order,” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 3, no. 4 (Autumn 1989): 85-97.

    Cass R. Sunstein, “Foreword: On Academic Fads and Fashions,” Michigan Law Review 99, no. 6 (May 2001): 1251-1264.

    Leigh Tesfatsion, “Agent-Based Computational Economics: A Constructive Approach to Economic Theory,” in Handbook of Computational Economics, Volume 2: Agent-Based Computational Economics, ed. Leigh Tesfatsion and Kenneth L. Judd, Handbooks in Economics (The Netherlands: North-Holland/Elsevier, 2006), http://www.econ.iastate.edu/tesfatsi/hbintlt.pdf.

    E. Roy Weintraub, “The Microfoundations of Macroeconomics: A Critical Survey,” Journal of Economic Literature 15, no. 1 (March 1977): 1-23.

    Also, a couple of the above are Nobel lectures, and in general the various Nobel lectures are a great way to get a bird's-eye view of economics. They're available collected in book form, probably at your school's library...
    Attending: UConn

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    TestMagic Outlier buckykatt's Avatar
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    Since I double-posted, and this silly software doesn't allow deletion of posts, let me add that I agree that reading the history of economic thought--as well as economic history--is useful. And it's not something you'll have much time for in grad school (unless you're attending a rare program that requires a course in one or the other), so now is a great time for it.
    Attending: UConn

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    buckykatt, I think you love economics more than I do.

    I remember finishing finals last april and being all gung-ho to read all these economic books and learn all sorts of math by myself. I ended up spending two days on it over the whole summer. Spent most of the time playing video games on the laptop in the backyard, if I recall.

    It's important not to burn yourself out, but it's also important not to get rusty. I did no math over summer and it took math camp and a month of classes to get my brain back in fighting trim.

    Some books I've heard good things about include 'The Art of Strategy', 'Lords of Finance', and 'Europe Between the Oceans'.

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