Popular Economics: What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You about Economics

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9781621573371: Popular Economics: What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You about Economics

Forbes editor John Tamny uses entertaining stories from sports, movies, popular culture, and famous businesses to demonstrate the basic principles of economics. The Rolling Stones, the Dallas Cowboys, and Paris Hilton become examples of good and bad tax policy. The Godfather, Gone With the Wind, and The Sopranos reveal the downside of antitrust regulation, while the Michigan Wolverines’ 2007 loss to Appalachian State explains why regulations often fail to achieve their intended purpose. NBA star LeBron James’ exploits on the basketball court illustrate free trade and comparative advantage, while the cooking of chicken wings makes the case for a stable dollar.

Popular Economics is an everyman’s guide to how money really works a lesson politicians try (and fail) to grasp every day.

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From the Inside Flap:

Economics is really pretty basic. In fact, it’s everywhere you look.

But a lot of people want you to think economics is terribly complicated. Politicians, bureaucrats, special-interest groups, and economists themselves have managed to turn common sense and simple cause-and-effect into a mystery religion. And they want you, the ordinary taxpayer, to keep a respectful distance.

John Tamny is here to break the spell with Popular Economics. You don’t need a Ph.D. and a graphing calculator to understand the economic lessons that are all around us just the self-confidence to see what’s in front of your nose. Stimulating economic growth is pretty simple, too. It all comes down to Taxes, Regulation, Trade, and Money. Get these four things right, and economic growth would explode.

Taxes. Think of taxes as a penalty for working. If Great Britain raises Mick Jagger’s income tax rate high enough, the Rolling Stones are going to find somewhere else to live, and the amount of taxes Great Britain collects from Mick will be zero.

Regulation. The smartest people in any industry aren’t the regulators, they’re the people making a living at it. Regulation is based on the fantasy that the mediocre can effectively direct the best and brightest. That’s like expecting the Appalachian State football team to beat Michigan every time they play.

Trade. LeBron James could be a pretty good tight end in the NFL, but in basketball he’s the best in the world. So it makes no sense for him to play football. That’s called comparative advantage, and it’s the foundation of free trade.

Money. Imagine playing football if the length of a yard changed on every play. Yet that’s how we run our economy. The value of the dollar the economy’s unit of measure changes in value every minute.

Government tries to convince us that free markets are dangerous. To believe that, we have to ignore reality, and plenty of professional economists are trying to help us do that.

But Popular Economics shows that you’re an economist too and a better one than you think.


"Want to understand the vital purpose of stable money in a free-market economy? Read John Tamny's chapters on the importance of reliable standards whether you are measuring ingredients for a chicken wings recipe, constructing a house, or timing athletes running the forty-yard dash and you will fully comprehend that money is meant to provide a dependable measure of value. Tamny's writing throughout this brilliant book rings with clarity and consistency; you will be left wondering why these same qualities don't apply to our money."
Judy Shelton, author of Money Meltdown.

"Popular Economics is an essential 21st century complement to Henry Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson. In a book that is happily free of charts and incomprehensible equations, John Tamny uses exciting stories from the world around us to show the reader that nothing is easier than economic growth. Popular Economics is the answer for those confused by the 'dismal science.'"
Arthur Laffer, economist, creator of the "Laffer Curve"

John’s book is many things. It’s a great way to learn economics, it’s a very strong case for economic liberty, and it is an epic myth-buster. I will be giving it out to friends, of all viewpoints, for a long long time.”
Cliff Asness, Managing Principal, AQR Capital

Ignore John Tamny’s easy to read, Popular Economics, at your own moral peril. It’s as close to spiritual as you get in this realm a better tutorial than any econ text. I’d make it mandatory for the 95% of econ majors right up through PhDs who never really got the basics. While making you edgy toward the endless societal consensus nonsense it cuts through like a guillotine it also frees you to see the true creative beauty of reality all around us.”
Ken Fisher, Founder & CEO, Fisher Investments

"In a revelatory analysis of the so-called 'financial crisis,' John Tamny makes the unexpected case that the actual crisis was the huge banking blunder of betting the investment capital of the U.S. economy on housing, a retrospective consumption good already grossly in over supply. Confirming the blunder, government under both Bush and Obama bailed out the banks and debauched the dollar, devaluing the entire entrepreneurial economy of the future. Rare is a book so contrary, so pithy, and so true."
George Gilder, author of Knowledge & Power

"John Tamny offers a wide ranging analysis of some of the most pressing issues facing the American economy today, from income inequality and job creation to budget deficits and tax reform. Through engaging examples and stories, he provides a thought-provoking argument in favor of a free market approach to economic growth. Whether you agree with him or not, there is no question that his perspective needs to be part of the discussion on American economy policy in the new millennium."
Enrico Moretti, Professor of Economics, Cal-Berkeley, author of The New Geography of Jobs

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