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kyrtap22
06-25-2013, 02:07 AM
Hi all,

Im in the process of adding to my summer reading list and thought I'd start a thread to see some suggestions.
I'm looking for books that you wish you read, or actually did read, before or while doing your economics PhD that you thought were worthwhile.

Im open to all types of suggestions, so a title, author, and quick description would be awesome! :D

chateauheart
06-25-2013, 06:25 AM
Steven Landsburg - The Armchair Economist

Deirdre McCloskey - How to be Human, Though an Economist

tm_member
06-25-2013, 11:23 AM
Hi all,

Im in the process of adding to my summer reading list and thought I'd start a thread to see some suggestions.
I'm looking for books that you wish you read, or actually did read, before or while doing your economics PhD that you thought were worthwhile.

Im open to all types of suggestions, so a title, author, and quick description would be awesome! :D

It depends on what you are interested in. If you are interested in asset pricing the recommendation would be different than if you want to do field experiments in developing countries.

However, I don't think there's many books out there these days that would justify their cost given the breadth and depth of econ blogging. Most econ books are like a collection of blog posts. Matt Yglesias over at Slate magazine is very accessible. He's not a PhD economist but has a writing style many could do with emulating. Of the PhD crowd, Paul Krugman, Tyler Cowen, Brad DeLong, and Greg Mankiw provide an across the political spectrum view of econ topics. Of course there's also that Freakonomics site, but these days it's just fluff.

I'd also highly recommend the podcasts from the people at NPR's Planet Money.

Integral
06-25-2013, 01:06 PM
Books:

1. Landsburg, The Armchair Economist. Micro 101 in an easy style.
2. Schelling, Micromotives and Macrobehavior. It'll teach you how to think about modelling.
3. Colander, The Making of an Economist. Non-negotiable. Read the interviews carefully.
4. Dixit, Thinking Strategically. Read it twice, once before your undergrad game theory course, once after. It'll cement the ideas in your head before you're forced to do mathematical game theory.

Blogs:

Blogs are an excellent, free way to consume quality economics content. I focus on money and macro, so my list is tilted towards that area.

1. Read literally everything Nick Rowe has written in his blog, "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative." The man taught me more macro than six years of college and graduate school.
2. Miles Kimball's "Confessions of a Supply-Side Liberal" is similarly excellent, if more eclectic.
3. Jim Hamilton's "Econbrowser" lives up to its author. His posts on energy and oil are particularly noteworthy; see also his defense of Reinhart and Rogoff.
4. Read "Economic Logic" daily. He reviews recent research in economics.
5. Cowen's "Marginal Revolution" is more about Tyler Cowen than it is about economics, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
6. Steve Williamson's blog, "New Monetarist Economics," is a good antidote for Krugman. Don't take him too seriously, though.
7. Jeff Frankel is worth reading, though he rarely posts.
8. The "Cheap Talk" blog is great on micro, game theory, and related topics.

I think Mankiw, DeLong, Krugman, Smith, and Taylor are low value-added.

tm_member
06-25-2013, 04:14 PM
Books:

1. Landsburg, The Armchair Economist. Micro 101 in an easy style.
2. Schelling, Micromotives and Macrobehavior. It'll teach you how to think about modelling.
3. Colander, The Making of an Economist. Non-negotiable. Read the interviews carefully.
4. Dixit, Thinking Strategically. Read it twice, once before your undergrad game theory course, once after. It'll cement the ideas in your head before you're forced to do mathematical game theory.

Blogs:

Blogs are an excellent, free way to consume quality economics content. I focus on money and macro, so my list is tilted towards that area.

1. Read literally everything Nick Rowe has written in his blog, "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative." The man taught me more macro than six years of college and graduate school.
2. Miles Kimball's "Confessions of a Supply-Side Liberal" is similarly excellent, if more eclectic.
3. Jim Hamilton's "Econbrowser" lives up to its author. His posts on energy and oil are particularly noteworthy; see also his defense of Reinhart and Rogoff.
4. Read "Economic Logic" daily. He reviews recent research in economics.
5. Cowen's "Marginal Revolution" is more about Tyler Cowen than it is about economics, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
6. Steve Williamson's blog, "New Monetarist Economics," is a good antidote for Krugman. Don't take him too seriously, though.
7. Jeff Frankel is worth reading, though he rarely posts.
8. The "Cheap Talk" blog is great on micro, game theory, and related topics.

I think Mankiw, DeLong, Krugman, Smith, and Taylor are low value-added.

That list is a little more tailored to a specific interest set. The big names are good starting point and they will link to and comment on other blogger's, media, or academic work that you might find interesting. As you go through grad school your interests will narrow but to keep a broad viewpoint on major issues rather than only reading what suits you (that's the epitome of low value added) you can't leave them or appropriate substitutes out.

mcsokrates
06-25-2013, 04:18 PM
It depends on what you are interested in. If you are interested in asset pricing the recommendation would be different than if you want to do field experiments in developing countries.

However, I don't think there's many books out there these days that would justify their cost given the breadth and depth of econ blogging. Most econ books are like a collection of blog posts. Matt Yglesias over at Slate magazine is very accessible. He's not a PhD economist but has a writing style many could do with emulating. Of the PhD crowd, Paul Krugman, Tyler Cowen, Brad DeLong, and Greg Mankiw provide an across the political spectrum view of econ topics. Of course there's also that Freakonomics site, but these days it's just fluff.

I'd also highly recommend the podcasts from the people at NPR's Planet Money.

In re: podcasts, actually the Freakonomics podcast has had some pretty great episodes, even though the website has fallen into popsci fluff land. I also really enjoy Russ Roberts' Econtalk podcast. Russ has a certain ideological outlook, but he's very good at making economists defend their research. He's had some really top names on the podcast too - I particularly enjoyed the Heckman episode from about 2 years ago. As a rule of thumb, Roberts is a better adversarial interviewer, so episodes with people he's predisposed to disagree with end up being more interesting than, e.g. the episodes with another Austrian/Libertarian leaning economist. Seriously, though, go back through the archives.

Integral
06-25-2013, 04:35 PM
That list is a little more tailored to a specific interest sets. The big names are good starting point and they will link to and comment on other blogger's, media, or academic work that you might find interesting. As you go through grad school your interests will narrow but to keep a broad viewpoint on major issues rather than only reading what suits you (that's the epitome of low value added) you can't leave them out.

Sure! I like to highlight the more focused and less well-known bloggers, but your point is well-taken. I learn more from Rowe and Kimball than I do from Krugman and Mankiw - but your mileage may vary. I keep Cowen in my daily readings precisely because he dabbles in a variety of topics.

Money-macro is blessed by a relative abundance of quality bloggers.

Ah, I forgot Mark Thoma, whose daily link lists are indispensable. Surely worth putting into your Google Reader replacement of choice.

tm_member
06-25-2013, 04:41 PM
Sure! I like to highlight the more focused and less well-known bloggers, but your point is well-taken. I learn more from Rowe and Kimball than I do from Krugman and Mankiw - but your mileage may vary. I keep Cowen in my daily readings precisely because he dabbles in a variety of topics.

Money-macro is blessed by a relative abundance of quality bloggers.

Ah, I forgot Mark Thoma, whose daily link lists are indispensable. Surely worth putting into your Google Reader replacement of choice.

Ah, can't believe I forgot Mark Thoma. Skip everything we said and just read his "links of the day", that's all you really need, he does the work for you. I sometimes have to skip the links because I just don't have time to read them all! Also, Mark just lost his wife suddenly so anyone who we are directing to his site be patient for a couple of weeks. Mark's work is invaluable.

RonSwanson
06-25-2013, 05:48 PM
Is it embarrassing to admit that one of the reasons I considered UO is because of Mark Thoma? Like not what made me decide to apply and then accept, but they probably wouldn't have been on my radar if it wasn't for his blog.

RonSwanson
06-25-2013, 05:58 PM
I second Nick Rowe, love everything he writes.
I actually prefer Tyler Cowen when he's talking about food or music, when he goes on about Economics I check out.
Paul Krugman's writing style really grates on me. Not the smugness, that's cool I guess. It's more that for some reason it grates one me the same way that "Notes From The Underground" grated on me.
Brad Delong is good for economic history content.
Economix from the NYT has good stuff, I'm particularly a fan of Nancy Folbre.
Matt Yglesias with Slate's Moneybox is fairly non-academic but still entertaining to read.
I dig Noah Smith, but I could see why others might not.
Simon Wren-Lewis's "mainly macro" blog is good, always enjoy reading that.
Slack Wire is pretty good, was associated with Suresh Naidu when I found it but haven't seen many/any posts by him, but the guy that does it now is a UMass Amherst PhD student and generally writes interesting posts.

Podcasts:

Freakonomics and Planet Money are both great. I also like the VoxEU Vox Talks.

tm_member
06-25-2013, 08:51 PM
In re: podcasts, actually the Freakonomics podcast has had some pretty great episodes, even though the website has fallen into popsci fluff land. I also really enjoy Russ Roberts' Econtalk podcast. Russ has a certain ideological outlook, but he's very good at making economists defend their research. He's had some really top names on the podcast too - I particularly enjoyed the Heckman episode from about 2 years ago. As a rule of thumb, Roberts is a better adversarial interviewer, so episodes with people he's predisposed to disagree with end up being more interesting than, e.g. the episodes with another Austrian/Libertarian leaning economist. Seriously, though, go back through the archives.

Oh, and I want to like Econtalk but I just can't listen to it. Recordings of people on phone lines is painful for an hour. Hi-fidelity has ruined me.

yankeefan
06-26-2013, 01:59 AM
Click on Humanomics' profile and click "View Forum Posts". I'm pretty sure that qualifies as a book, and its by far the best book you can read before you go into any social science PhD program.