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Top Ten Economics Books

from Lars Syll

  • Karl Marx, Das Kapital (1867)
  • John Maynard Keynes, General Theory (1936)
  • Kenneth Arrow, Social Choice and Individual Values (1951)
  • John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society (1958)
  • Amartya Sen, Collective Choice and Social Welfare (1970)
  • Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, The Entropy Law and the Economic Process (1971)
  • Michal Kalecki, Selected Essays on the Dynamics of the Capitalist Economy (1971)
  • Paul Davidson, Money and the Real World (1972)
  • Hyman Minsky, John Maynard Keynes (1975)
  • Tony Lawson, Economics and Reality (1997)
  1. avneroffer
    May 9, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Top book is actually Adam Smith’s *The Wealth of Nations*. In a book to be published shortly I show that Smith is by far the most cited economist since the 1930s.

    • Alan
      May 9, 2016 at 5:54 pm

      Most cited or most miscited and misquoted? Smith’s great book strikes me as one that is more abused than understood and appropriately used.

  2. graccibros
    May 9, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    I’ll refrain from posting my “Syllabus for a new Political Economy” again, but I haven’t changed my mind about putting Karl Polanyi’s 1944 book “The Great Transformation” in the top ten. I realize that it is a book that crosses that great boundary, real or imagined, between “pure” economics into the more fraught terrain called “political economy,” (and beyond, taking note of Polanyi the anthropologist) but isn’t that the realm where citizens, nations and now nature, indeed, whole eras are made or broken? I sense that the overall dynamics in the world economy, and the US presidential race, are putting us near the end of the Neoliberal era, and there will be no better guide to the policy scramble, and policy stalemates, entering the next crisis, than Polanyi’s handling of the “double movement”; it being centered, as it was in the 1930’s, on currencies and central banks, and the allowable “interventions” into market “sovereignty.” Good luck to us all, because it seems we will be right back there in 1929-1933, despite the protestations Alan Blinder made on behalf of the “progressivity” of the economics profession, in chastising Jeff Madrick’s book on “How Mainstream Economists Have Damaged America and the World” at the end of 2014.

  3. graccibros
    May 9, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    May I update my Syllabus, and the comment just above? Please include Yanis Varoufakis’ lecture on April 26, 2016, at the New School in New York City, the Robert Heilbroner Lecture, as valuable guidance to the coming crisis, complete with his tales of Larry Summers’ and Christine LaGuarde’s little parables to him about whether he could be an “insider” or “outsider” but never both. Here at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihVcrnFag1s

  4. May 9, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Warren Mosler’s book is available free on-line for download:

    Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy

    Preface by economist James Galbraith

    Joseph Firestone: Review of Warren Mosler’s book: The 7 Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy

  5. May 10, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Interesting list. I’m not an economist and don’t want to be one. So when I read a list like this one I’m reminded of the times I had to negotiate with mafia types (regular and Russian versions). I get a strong vibe from these guys that no matter what I say they’re going to force it into the mafia assumptions about the world they came into the meeting with. And if they don’t really fit that’s where the knife and the gun come into play. Even Kenneth Arrow, whose intellect I admire bought into professional economics’ assumptions and felt compelled to push, slam, maneuver, cut the world he observed into these assumptions. His paper “UNCERTAINTY AND THE WELFARE ECONOMICS OF MEDICAL CARE” is an example of this need to squeeze. What would happen I wonder if economists considered cooperation and coordination along with competition, community sharing along with markets, uncertainty mitigated not by insurance or warranties but by community assistance, or the very simple notion that we set up a new commons to handle economic and political welfare. Is this any more naive than the continuing efforts of economists to squeeze the world and its peoples into the the narrow confines of competitive markets.

  6. SLE
    May 10, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    What about

    Joseph A. Schumpeter, Theorie der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (1912)


  7. blocke the
    May 10, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    The book that had the greatest influence on my teaching was David S Landes, The Unbound Prometheus. Richness of knowledge par excellence.

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