If you're looking for an interesting last minute gift for the economics student or economics teacher on your list, even if that student or teacher is you, you could do worse than to pick up David Warsh's book, Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations. It is a worthwhile read about the profession, and one of the most interesting topics within the study of economics, economic growth. And it presents the history of the debate. Within An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (or here for free access), Adam Smith presented two ideas, the invisible hand of competition, and the question of returns in the pin factory, that often appeared at odds with each other. These topics were alternatively addressed and ignored through much of the evolution of economics.
Warsh does a good job of following that evolution, showing how each new view evolved. The evolution culminates with the presentation of a paper by Paul Romer which begins to really explain how knowledge spillovers impact on productivity, competition and growth. And throughout the book, Warsh maintains his ability to engage the reader with a good story, much as he does in his blog, Economic Principals.
This book can be an excellent resource for the classroom teacher. And students can get a sense of what makes economics an exciting, relevant field of study. To quote from the last lines of the book, "Economics has never been more exciting. Its greatest challenges lie ahead, to discover the deeper secrets of the wealth of nations, the faculties that Adam Smith called our moral sentiments -- what it is about human nature that we call humane."
I welcome your comments and thoughts about this book.
Posted by TSchilling at December 19, 2006 8:14 AM
Thank you Tim for the excellent reading suggestions. I find that my students often need something other than the textbook, and yes even Fed Challenge, to keep their interest in economics growing. Your reading suggestions are excellent, and have the added benefit of "refreshing" the teacher too. I am headed to the bookstore to obtain my "Christmas break" reading.
Posted by: Julie at January 2, 2007 8:50 AM