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Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations


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Former Boston Globe columnist David Warsh writes the online newsletter Economic Principals. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.


Veteran business reporter Warsh takes on the world of economic scholarship to tell the story of how the growth of human knowledge finally became incorporated into mainstream economic theory. Warsh explains that economist Paul Romer's publication of a mathematical model of economic growth in his article "Endogenous Technological Change" 20 years ago was the spur that brought the economics of knowledge to the forefront after more than two centuries of being on the hazy periphery of the profession. Warsh makes a strong case for the importance of Romer's work in redefining the traditional economic factors of production from being land, labor, and capital to being people, ideas, and things. Nevertheless, it is hard to determine an audience for Warsh's book. While everyone would benefit from understanding these new ideas, Warsh's focus is on how Romer's insight came about and not on explaining it in detail. Warsh's lengthy examination of the scholarship trailing back to Adam Smith would be tedious for most readers. This limits the book's appeal to mainly academic libraries collecting in economics.-Lawrence R. Maxted, Gannon Univ., Erie, PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"A fascinating journey through the world of economic thought-and the lives of economists-from Adam Smith to the present day... If you like reading stories of high intellectual drama, if you want to know the origin of ideas that, as Keynes said, "are dangerous for good or evil," this book is for you." -- Paul Krugman - New York Times Book Review
"A fascinating story of discovery, meticulously reported and essential reading for anyone curious as to what makes economics tick." -- Tim Harford - Financial Times
"The glory of this elegantly written book is that all you need to bring is your curiosity." -- Steven Pearlstein - Washington Post
"Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations tells the story of the rebel economics of increasing returns. A veteran observer of dismal scientists at work...Mr. Warsh has written the best book of its kind since Peter Bernstein's Capital Ideas." -- The Economist
"An in-depth look at the `new growth theory,' conceived by Adam Smith and unproven until recently, with profound implications for us all." -- The Atlantic
"Warsh pulls off a tour de force. He takes us all the way back to Adam Smith, and then forward in time in an illuminating tour of economic history. In his hands, economics is far from the `dismal science'-it is a discipline that, with many a zigzag and no shortage of ideological disagreements, has steadily progressed in its understanding of how economies work." -- Andrew Leonard - Salon
"The book on [Paul] Romer for the ages, a truly splendid creation on both the science and the person." -- Tyler Cowen - Marginal Revolution
"A great book. The first place to look to learn some of the backstory for work on growth." -- Paul Romer, Winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

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