New Books from Hoover Fellows: Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell

Tuesday, February 13, 2001

At last there is a citizen's guide to the economy, written by an economist who uses plain English. The book for anyone who wants to understand the economy is Basic Economics (Basic Books, 2000) by Hoover Senior Fellow Thomas Sowell. No jargon, no graphs, no equations. Yet this is a comprehensive survey, covering everything from rent control and the rise and fall of businesses to the international balance of payments.

The purpose of Basic Economics is to enable people without any economic training to understand the way the economy functions-not only the American economy, but other economies around the world. Some of the clearest demonstrations of the role of prices, for example, come from economies in which prices are not allowed to function, with consequences which show just what those functions are and what happens when they are lacking.

In the end, this is not a book from which to cram facts, but one from which to gain an understanding of the economy that will enable the reader to form your own conclusions on the basis of tested principles, rather than on the basis of emotion or rhetoric. That is the goal of the journey, but the reader should also enjoy the trip along the way.

Thomas Sowell, the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow in Public Policy at Hoover Institution, is an economist with experience in private industry, government, and the academic world. He writes on economics, history, social policy, ethnicity, and the history of ideas. His most recent books are Barbarians Inside the Gates (1999) and The Quest for Cosmic Justice (1999). His writings have appeared in both scholarly and popular publications and have been translated into ten languages. These writings include a column syndicated to more than 150 newspapers.

The Hoover Institution, founded at Stanford University in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, who went on to become the 31st president of the United States, is an interdisciplinary research center for advanced study on domestic and international affairs.