Home > Uncategorized > Nominations for the Top Ten Economics Books of the Last 100 Years

Nominations for the Top Ten Economics Books of the Last 100 Years

from Edward Fullbrook

A top ten list of economics books chosen by the RWER’s global community of economists would be useful for promoting its real-world commitment.  We can over the coming weeks create one here by taking part in a poll.

The poll will work like this.  You may nominate up to 10 books (first published after 1915) by leaving a comment below.  Remarks – which must be short – supporting your nominations are optional.  Nominations will remain open for several weeks, after which a “short list” of 40 or 50 titles will be announced and voting by PollDaddy will commence.   Each voter will have 10 votes.  Voting will remain open for several weeks, before the “Top Ten Economics Books of the Last 100 Years” will be announced.

To get things started I am nominating the nine post-1915 books from Lars Syll’s Top Ten Economics Books.  

  1. Fullbrook
    May 10, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    I nominate the following books from Lars Syll’s “Top Ten Economics Books”
    • 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)

  2. JB
    May 10, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Piero Sraffa, Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities (1960)

  3. May 10, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Karl Polanyi: The great transformation: the political and economic origins of our time
    In my view, this is clearly, and by far, the deepest analysis currently available.

  4. May 10, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    No more detailed history of an “economic” era existed at the time it was published. So I nominate “The Gilded Age” by Mark Twain (definitely not an economist).

  5. May 10, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Hmmm, except Amartya Sen, Indian born, western european-american in education and background the rest of the world does not exist. That is more or less 80% of humanity. You could widen your views pals!

  6. Michael Barkusky
    May 10, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    I nominate:

    1. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776)
    2. On The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation by David Ricardo (1817)
    3. “Recherches sur les principles mathematiques de la theorie des richesses”
    [Researches on the Mathematical Principles of the Theory of Wealth] by Antoine A.
    Cournot (1838)
    4. Principles of Political Economy by John Stuart Mill (1848)
    5. Review of Recherches sur les principles mathematiques de la theorie des richesses”
    by Cournot, by Joseph Bertrand Bertrand (Journal des Savants 67) (1883)
    6. Principles of Economics by Alfred Marshall (1890)
    7. The Economics of Welfare by Arthur C. Pigou (1920)
    8. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes
    9. The Nature of the Firm by Ronald Coase (1937)
    10. The Constitution of Liberty by F.A. von Hayek (1960)
    11. The Costs of Economic Growth by Ezra (aka Edward) J. Mishan (1967)
    12. The Entropy Law and the Economic Process by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (1971)
    13. Small is Beautiful by E.F. (“Fritz”) Schumacher (1973)
    14. Steady State Economics by Herman E. Daly (1977)

    I realize I have nominated 14 rather than 10, and also that the first 6 were published more than 100 years ago, but that means that the remaining 8 should be valid nominations.

    Michael Barkusky
    Pacific Institute for Ecological Economics
    Vancouver BC – Canada

  7. Alan
    May 10, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    C.A. Gregory Gifts and Commodities (original edition 1982, 2nd edition 2015).

  8. Kevin Meyer
    May 11, 2016 at 4:03 am

    Unordered, other than off the top of my head:

    Keynes, The General Theory
    Kalecki, Selected Essays
    Lerner, Economics of Employment
    Sraffa, Production of Commodities
    Robinson, The Accumulation of Capital
    Veblen, Theory of the Leisure Class (cheating the 100-year limit via 1973 ed. w/ Galbraith’s intro)
    Polanyi, The Great Transformation
    Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism & Democracy (reaching the opposite conclusion of Polamyi)
    Galbraith, The Affluent Society
    Godley (and Lavoie), Monetary Economics

    … and if Veblen’s late ed. doesn’t qualify, then maybe Kaldor’s Scourge of Monetarism (because I enjoy polemic titles)

  9. May 11, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    thesehere are 10 (plus 1) that influenced me
    ‘the economy as a complex evolving system’ vols 1 and 2 edited by K Arrow and (maybe) P W A Anderson
    M Dilas ‘the new class’
    S Bowles and H Gintis ‘schooling in capitalist america’
    J B Rosser ‘chaos and catastrophe in economic theory
    M Friedman ‘free tio choose’
    F Hayek ‘road to serfdom’
    R Hahnel and M Albert ‘quiet revolution in welfare economics’ and ‘the political economy of participatory economics’
    J Bentham, V Pareto, and Marx may have been republished within the last 100 years
    Wikpedia (the entries with the names above ahd all the links to ‘further reading’)

    I would really only reccomend reading samples of these; only occasionaly do people have time energy and competency to read a whole book. I tend to think in terms of ‘100 most important and neccesary ideas (or axioms)’ everyone should know to make a coherent argument or hypothesis; and ‘the 100 ideas rejected from that list everyone should know’

    • blocke the
      May 11, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      What about a list of 10 books by economists that cost them their jobs.

  10. May 11, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    So “top” of what? (significance, relevance or number of readers in the last century)? Re Graccibros at https://rwer.wordpress.com/2016/05/09/top-ten-economics-books/ on whether Varoufakis was an insider or an outsider, does this apply to their authors?
    The best book by Shakespeare is his Complete Works, wherein one can follow development, but economists tend to be verbose, so can we consider the many volumes of Keynes’ collected works (as I would like to) rather than just the General Theory? Whatever, as “outside” professional economics myself I would like to nominate a few notable outsiders who were still capable of thinking for themselves about bankers economising on money, not to mention iconic documentaries like “The Money Masters” and Paul Grignon’s cartoons.

    1. Yes, J M Keynes’ “General Theory” 1936 (along with its history, then retraining work).
    2. J K Galbraith’s “Money: Whence it came, where it went”(1975); but really, C/W).
    3. Lucky’s delight: Frederick Soddy’s “Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt: The Solution of the Economic Paradox”, 1926, reprinted 1983. Not least because it opens respectfully with a 154-years-old quote from an equally brilliant but literary rather than mathematical mind, John Ruskin’s, revered in England by workers rather than bankers: “That which seems to be wealth may in verity be only the guilded index of far-reaching ruin”. [From “Unto This Last” (1862)].
    I’m still finding Polanyi too diffuse for easy initial comprehension; not so
    4. E F Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful” (1973), and a Distributist predecessor:
    5. Hilaire Belloc’s “The Restoration of Property” (1936). Cf. The Servile State, 1912.
    6. Kenneth E Boulding’s “The Image” (1953), on iconic rather than symbolic language, informing his work on economic organisation and Spaceship Earth.
    7. James Robertson’s “Transforming Economic Life: A Millennial Challenge” (1998). (Complete works now kindly made available on-line).
    8. Philip Mirowski’s “More Heat Than Light” (1989). Unfortunately his equally brilliant sequel, “Machine Dreams”, misunderstood Shannon’s information and error control.
    9. Of relevance again, Peter Drucker’s “The End of Economic Man” (1940).
    10. And yes: Tony Lawson’s thought-provoking “Economics and Reality” (1997).

  11. Jamie Morgan
    May 11, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    How about:

    Nancy Folbre ‘Who pays for the kids?’
    Susan George ‘How the other half dies’

    These are works about economy that make you think about the world in a quite different way – something few economists achieve these days

  12. May 11, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    How about Joan Robinson?

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