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Naked Economics


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About the Author

Charles Wheelan is the author of the best-selling Naked Statistics and Naked Economics and is a former correspondent for the Economist. He teaches public policy and economics at Dartmouth College and lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, with his family. Burton G. Malkiel is the Chemical Bank Chairman's Professor of Economics Emeritus at Princeton University. He is a former member of the Council of Economic Advisers, dean of the Yale School of Management, and has served on the boards of several major corporations, including Vanguard and Prudential Financial. He is the chief investment officer of Wealthfront.


Ever wonder what it means when the Fed raises interest rates? Or why there are occasional fears of inflation? To the rescue comes this simplified and chatty nontextbook textbook. Using words rather than math, it makes economics accessible, comprehensible and appealing. Wheelan, the Economist's Midwest correspondent, breezily explains the big picture, including finance, capital markets, government institutions and more. His informal style belies the sophisticated and scholarly underpinnings of his subject. Wheelan champions the often-maligned science: "Economics should not be accessible only to the experts. The ideas are too important and too interesting." Well before book's end, highly persuasive yet simply illustrated concepts sway the reader. Complex ideas are demystified and made clear, using familiar examples, such as the price of sweatshirts at the Gap. A chapter on financial markets compares a grapefruit and ice cream fad diet with get-rich-quick schemes. (He wryly offers the mantra "Save. Invest. Repeat.") Similarly, an explanation of interest rates compares them to "rental rates," an easy-to-grasp concept. And to convey what the major international institutions do, Wheelan writes: "If the World Bank is the world's welfare agency, then its sister organization, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the fire department responsible for dousing international financial crises." Wheelan's simplicity does not mask the detailed encapsulation of complicated issues, such as relative wealth, globalization and the importance of human capital. He smartly shows that while economic consequences can be global, they are also a part of everyday life. (Sept.) Forecast: A catchy cover illustration a naked stick figure with George Washington's dollar bill face covering his middle and the promise of finally understanding economics will attract recent college grads and uncertain older folk. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Economics has often been an orphan in the world of college electives largely ignored, rarely enjoyed, and almost instantly forgotten by undergraduates. In his new book, Wheelan, a Chicago-based correspondent for the Economist, has decided to shake the dust off economics, making the case that it is not just an arcane academic science but a practical set of tools. Though he admits that many of us are "economically illiterate," his book is "not economics for dummies, it is economics for smart people who have never studied economics (or have only a vague recollection of doing so)." Eschewing jargon, charts, and equations, Wheelan gives us the essentials. He clearly defines terms like GDP and inflation, explaining how they work and what the short- and long-term impact might be. He makes a convincing argument that there is a role for "good" governmental regulation, using the Federal Reserve as a model. He also examines the pros and cons of taxation. Topics like productivity, trade, and globalization are insightfully covered as well. This is a thoughtful, well-written introduction to economics, with the author projecting a genuine excitement for his material that makes it not quite so dismal. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries. Richard Drezen, The Washington Post/New York City Bureau Education Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"Translates the arcane and often inscrutable jargon of the professional economist into language accessible to the inquiring but frustrated layman... Clear, concise, informative, [and] witty." -- Chicago Tribune

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