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Books on microeconomics

In Strategy Letter V ( http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/StrategyLetterV.html ) Joel writes about microeconomics and how demand for your product will go up when the price of complements go down. That makes sense, but it was news to me.

Like probably most readers I am a programmer who knows all about programming languages and algorithms. But I know basically nothing about economics.

Can anyone recommend books that will allow me to fix that? I guess a college-level introductory textbook is what I am looking for.
Søren Sandmann Send private email
Friday, September 03, 2004
I have found David Friedman's "Hidden order" to be a nice introduction to economics.
Helge A. Gudmundsen Send private email
Friday, September 03, 2004
The market for undergraduate texts on microeconomics is very competitive; every year the major publishers re-release their books with a few trivial changes and all the page numbers messed up (so that students have to buy new copies; they can't buy used copies from an older student)...

Anyway the net result is that last year's microecon textbooks are always available for cheap at bookstores near colleges, which is where I would look. When purchasing textbooks I like to go to a university bookstore and see which ones the professors have chosen.
Joel Spolsky Send private email
Friday, September 03, 2004
I second the David Friedman (who is the son of Milton) recommendation.

David is also worth reading for his other views, especially anarcho-capitalism.  You may not agree with him, but he's always inciseful, brilliant, and interesting.  Also, his PhD is in theoretical physics, but he teaches law and econonomics.
Mongo Send private email
Friday, September 03, 2004
Thomas Sowell has two books on economics that might be of interest:
 Basic Economics : A Citizens Guide to the Economy
 Applied Economics : Thinking Beyond Stage One

I heard they were both good books on building a foundation of learning economics.

You can find them both on Amazon.com
Friday, September 03, 2004

Thomas Sowell is very sharp.  I highly recommend him.
KC Send private email
Friday, September 03, 2004
One thing to keep in mind is that there are multiple schools of thought within Economics.  The university where I earned my bachelor's degree in Economics didn't make it very explicit in the curriculum but you could infer it.

But I buy into microeconomics much more than macroeconomics.  It seems like the schools of thought diverge more on macro than micro issues.  If you take one thing away from economics, let it be marginal analysis.

And remember that Economics is much better at examining why something happened in the past than attempting to predict the future.  There are too many variables changing at once in the real world to accurately predict the future within a narrow range.
Jeremy Send private email
Friday, September 03, 2004
Thomas Sowell is worth reading if you understand up front that he approaches the topic with a right-wing worldview that might not be apparent to the novice reader.  He writes well, you'll enjoy his books, but recognize where he's coming from.
Friday, September 03, 2004
For something that is at a more basic level than a college text book, I'd recommend Todd Buchholz, "From Here to Economy".  In one short easy and fun to read book he takes a quick pass at microeconomics, macroeconomics, foreign trade and investing.  At the end he has his list of five great economists.  He includes both Keynes and Friedman in the list, so he has a fairly broad perspective on the field.
Friday, September 03, 2004
" Thomas Sowell is worth reading if you understand up front that he approaches the topic with a right-wing worldview..."


"right-wing", is this some kind of warning, i.e. The contents of this book are "right-wing" and may not be suitable for younger children?
If by "right-wing", you mean, limited government, free-markets, private property, free-trade, free-society, then I guess guilty as charged.  I always thought Sowell was "Classic Liberal" (before the term "liberal" got hijacked by the "left-wing").

Here are some more "Classic Liberal" suggestions:
Human Action: A Treatise on Economics : Ludwig Von Mises
Road to Serfdom: F.A. Hayek
Capitalism & Freedom : Milton Friedman
Friday, September 03, 2004
Steven Landsburg's "The Armchair Economist" is a really good introduction to economics. One of the blurbs on my paperback copy is from Milton Friedman. He's a professor at the University of Rochester and writes for Slate from time to time. Fair warning: it's very libertarian in nature, but because of that it's also very convincing.

He's not your typical economist: his next book is gonna be called "More Sex is Safer Sex". QED.

After reading David Friedman and Steve Landsburg, then you might want to get a copy of a Schaum's book on microeconomics and flip through it.
Larry Prince Send private email
Friday, September 03, 2004
Doesn't anybody read Paul Samuelson anymore? Any incarnation of his Economics book would be a very fine introduction. Milton Friedman still tops my list. But then his books are not introductory.
Rank Merida Send private email
Saturday, September 04, 2004
There is a book called "Sex, Drugs and Economics: An Unconventional Intro to Economics" by Diane Coyle. I haven't read it yet, but it is in my wishlist. Anyone could give a feedback about this book?
Emerson Seiti Takahashi Send private email
Saturday, September 04, 2004
I took a class of microeconomics at university. We used the book "Intermediate Microeconomics" by H. R. Varian.

I think it was (my book is from 1990 I think) an excellent book, explaining the theory in plain words, and delivering the maths behind it, with both formulas and charts.

After reading Joels "Stategy Letter V", I rushed to verify Joels statements using this book. And on that 2nd visit to Microeconomics, I had to conclude (just like Joel) that "Hey, this stuff is actually useful".
Martin A. Bøgelund
Monday, September 06, 2004
The textbook I used in my principles of microeconomics class was fairly interesting.  It's called...Principles of Microeconomics, by N. Gregory Mankiw, a member of the Council of Economic Advisors or something like that.

Aside from The Armchair Economist, a nontechnical economics book I found entertaining was Naked Economics, by Charles Wheelan.  It's not quite as amusing as Landsburg's book, I admit, but there's a good deal of interesting material in there.  Yes, he talks a bit about politics, but mostly just in terms of free trade (he likes it) and communism (he makes fun of it several times).
Monday, September 06, 2004
I also found "Naked Economics" by Charles Wheelan quite interesting, as it's not one of those useless books that just keep rewriting the classics without telling us about all the negative side-effects on such and such behavior (and forget to remind us that 21st century markets are quite a bit more complicated than 18th century England.)

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

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