Don’t want to spend any money on books, but want to learn economics anyways? Don’t worry, we got you covered:
10. An Economic Zeitgeist – Ryan Swift
From the esteemed founder of SwiftEconomics.com comes a brief introduction to basic economics. Lucidly written and complete with humor, elucidating examples and scrupulous scholarship, this is a great place to start when it comes to learning economics. And yes, I am a bit biased.
9. The Case for Gold – Ron Paul
The Internet sensation, Congressman and former presidential candidate makes the case for the gold standard in as articulate a way as you can find. Well worth the read, especially for his supporters and those wary of fiat currencies.
8. The Conservative Nanny State – Dean Baker
Dean Baker is my favorite liberal economist who has done a great job exposing corporate-government corruption. I have a few issues with his book; I disagree with his thoughts on monetary policy and his assertion that small businesses get special handouts ignores what’s called ‘overhead smash,’ namely that economies of scale allow bigger firms to deal with regulation much more easily than small firms. The title is also strange, since corporatism has been bipartisan. Still, this exposes much of the cronyism in our economy today.
7. Das Kapital – Karl Marx
OK, I think this book is nonsense and served as little more than an excuse for totalitarianism. However, as far as understanding the history of economic thought goes, it is a must read.
6. Karl Marx and the Close of His System - Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk
In case you didn’t believe me that the previous book was nonsense, Bohm-Bawerk obliterates it. His central thesis is that if labor is exploited by capital and capitalists effectively steal the “surplus value” Marx asserts, then firms that rely on labor more than mechanization and capital would be more profitable than the other way around. Since this is not the case, Karl Marx’ theory has a huge hole in it. Furthermore, Marx also doesn’t understand the difference between profits and wages, see here.
5. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money - John Maynard Keynes
Again, I’m not a big fan of this book, but it’s important to read. Ever since the New Deal, the United States, and much of the world, has used many of Keynes’ theories; so despite the fact I think Keynes is wrong in his underlying argument that a “liquidity trap” caused by a reduction in consumer spending causes an economy to spiral out of control, this book is critical to understanding modern, liberal economics.
4. The Case Against the Fed – Murray Rothbard
Murray Rothbard, Ron Paul’s favorite economist, takes on the history and economics of the Federal Reserve and makes the argument that the Fed is beholden to major banking interests and has been the cause, not the cure, of the boom-bust cycle.
3. Liberalism – Ludwig von Mises
Ludwig von Mises, the dean of the Austrian School of economics, lays out a brief defense of the classical liberal order. Here he makes the case for a limited government, laissez-faire economy in possibly the poignant way ever put on paper.
2. The Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith
It may be an extremely long book, but An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations is without question, the foundation of modern economics. Written by the founder of modern economics, Adam Smith. This is a must read for any economics junkie.
1. Economics in One Lesson – Henry Hazlitt
The best primer on economics that has ever been written! Henry Hazlitt goes over a whole menu of economic fallacies and discards them one by one. There’s no better place to start (other than SwiftEconomics.com) to learn about economics.
Other noteworthy free economics e-books:
The Conquest of Poverty – Henry Hazlitt
Prices and Production – F.A. Hayek
Bureaucracy – Ludwig von Mises
Against Intellectual Property – Stephen Kinsella
What Has Government Done to Our Money? – Murray Rothbard
The Roosevelt Myth – John T. Flynn
And some boring, text book/reports:
The Economic Freedom of the World: 2010 Annual Report – Fraser Institute
The World Bank Annual Report – World Bank
Essentials of Microeconomics – Kristen Ahlersten
Essentials of Macroeconomics – Peter Jochumzen