Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Literary Economics

In light of current events on the business front I have been dipping into a classic text that provides historical perspective for understanding the events of today.
This is the classic Manias, Panics, and Crashes by Charles P. Kindleberger. He provides a succinct history of economic crises in ten chapters plus a conclusion as to "The Lessons of History". Interestingly he feels it necessary in his first chapter to explain: "This book is an essay in what is derogatorily called today "literary economics," as opposed to mathematical economics, econometrics, or (embracing them both) the "new economic history."" (pp. 7-8)
Having received my own degree in Economics less than a decade before this book was published I found a kindred spirit in that I, too, preferred "literary economics", eschewing econometrics, et. al. I recommend Kindleberger's treatise as a good example of economics (without approving of all his views), history, or both. His analysis of various episodes of speculative fever in the markets and his thoughtful discussion of causes and lessons for today are worth reading and considering in light of our own economic turbulence.

Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises by Charles P. Kindleberger. Basic Books, New York. 1978.

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