The best books about the global economy

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Eldon R. Lindsey Chair of Free Enterprise and Professor of Economics and Finance at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. Most of my writing is academic, including in the Independent Review, Journal of Markets and Morality, and Presidential Studies Quarterly recently. Before pursuing my doctoral degree, I served in the U.S. Army and worked for an insurance company.

I wrote...

Global Economics: A Holistic Approach

By Clifford F. Thies,

Book cover of Global Economics: A Holistic Approach

What is my book about?

This book describes the emerging global economy from its most distant origins to the present. It covers traditional topics, such as trade, in both traditional and nontraditional ways, and it covers nontraditional topics for such a book, such as immigration and diversity. The book is highly accessible, and is filled with concrete examples and highly-engaging stories.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Clifford F. Thies Why did I love this book?

Examining the emergence of our species reveals just how wonderful we are and each of us is.

Yuval Noah Harari is particularly impressed with the moral stories that enable very large numbers of us to cooperate, not only within families and tribes, but within nations and the world.

Harari also writes about the evolution of social institutions such as money, instrumental to cooperation among large numbers of people.

By Yuval Noah Harari,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked Sapiens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the…

Book cover of The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

Clifford F. Thies Why did I love this book?

Angus Deaton presents his own work and summarizes the work of others to describe the beginning of sustained economic growth, what is sometimes called the industrial revolution.

Not only does this sustained economic growth result in much greater health and wealth, but also in inequality.

Before, only a very small number of people enjoyed leisure and what were the luxuries of the time. After, increasing percentages of people escaped the so-called iron law of wages.

By Angus Deaton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Escape as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The world is a better place than it used to be. People are healthier, wealthier, and live longer. Yet the escapes from destitution by so many has left gaping inequalities between people and nations. In The Great Escape, Angus Deaton--one of the foremost experts on economic development and on poverty--tells the remarkable story of how, beginning 250 years ago, some parts of the world experienced sustained progress, opening up gaps and setting the stage for today's disproportionately unequal world. Deaton takes an in-depth look at the historical and ongoing patterns behind the health and wealth of nations, and addresses what…

Book cover of The Myth of American Inequality: How Government Biases Policy Debate

Clifford F. Thies Why did I love this book?

This recommendation is more technical than my previous recommendations.

The authors reconstruct many measures of income and income inequality to show that the widening gap indicated by official statistics is an artifact of certain assumptions underlying these statistics.

First, and most importantly, regarding those who are dependent on the social safety net, "income" includes only cash benefits dispensed by the government, not the cash value of non-cash benefits; and, for those who are taxpayers, "income" is defined as before-tax income, not after-tax income.

Second, monetary values are incorrectly corrected by the CPI (the authors propose using the chained-linked CPI).

The book might be considered to present an agenda for further research on the specifics it addresses and similar concerns.

By Phil Gramm, Robert Ekelund, John Early

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Myth of American Inequality as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2022: Politics

Everything you know about income inequality, poverty, and other measures of economic well-being in America is wrong. In this provocative book, a former United States senator, eminent economist, and a former senior leader at the Bureau of Labor Statistics challenge the prevailing consensus that income inequality is a growing threat to American society. By taking readers on a deep dive into the way government measures economic well-being, they demonstrate that our official statistics dramatically overstate inequality. Getting the facts straight reveals that the key measures of well-being are greater than the…

Book cover of The World Economy

Clifford F. Thies Why did I love this book?

Maddison weaves varied measures into a history of GDP, population, and perforce GDP per capita of the world and its regions and of countries as the data allow, going back to ‘year 0’ (the year that’s not between 1 BC and 1 AD).

His effort is continued by the Maddison Project.

Careful measurement could be said to differentiate the scientific from the discursive disciplines.

By Angus Maddison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World Economy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The World Economy brings together two reference works by Angus Maddison: The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective, first published in 2001 and The World Economy: Historical Statistics, published in 2003. This new edition contains Statlinks, a service providing access to the underlying data in Excel® format. These two volumes bring together estimates of world GDP for the past 2000 years and provide a unique perspective on the rise and fall of economies historically.

"One controversial clash of theories fueled by Maddison's data concerns the relative status of (growth in) the West versus the rest. The figures (in this book) are…

Book cover of IQ and the Wealth of Nations

Clifford F. Thies Why did I love this book?

This is a frustrating book.

It is a path-breaking effort to gather national IQ data from as many countries as possible, and to correlate the same with GDP per capita and other measures of national success.

There are several major shortcomings to the original effort including: (1) that averages of "similar" countries were used where local estimates of national IQ weren't available, and (2) national IQs of many countries were drawn from small convenience samples.

These shortcomings might have been justified as the best that could be done given the costliness of collecting scientifically-valid samples, along with a call to address these shortcomings.

Since the publication of the book, numerous additional IQ data have been developed in, for example, the norming of IQ tests for various populations. Also, much near kin achievement data have been developed in the administration of internationally-standardized scholastic examinations.

And, even for tiny countries, we have good local proxy data such as GMAT scores. With better data on national IQ, the purposes of the book can, now, be much better served.

By Richard Lynn, Tatu Vanhanen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked IQ and the Wealth of Nations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lynn and Vanhanen test the hypothesis on the causal relationship between the average national intelligence (IQ) and the gap between rich and poor countries by empirical evidence. Based on an extensive survey of national IQ tests, the results of their work challenge the previous theories of economic development and provide a new basis to evaluate the prospects of economic development throughout the world.

They begin by reviewing and evaluating some major previous theories. The concept of intelligence is then described and intelligence quotient (IQ) introduced. Next they show that intelligence is a significant determinant of earnings within nations, and they…

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Book cover of Benghazi! A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink

Ethan Chorin Author Of Benghazi! A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Story-lover Middle East expert Curious Iconoclast Optimist

Ethan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Benghazi: A New History is a look back at the enigmatic 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, its long-tail causes, and devastating (and largely unexamined) consequences for US domestic politics and foreign policy. It contains information not found elsewhere, and is backed up by 40 pages of citations and interviews with more than 250 key protagonists, experts, and witnesses.

So far, the book is the main -- and only -- antidote to a slew of early partisan “Benghazi” polemics, and the first to put the attack in its longer term historical, political, and social context. If you want to understand some of the events that have shaped present-day America, from political polarization and the election of Donald Trump, to January 6, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Russian expansionism, and the current Israel-Hamas war, I argue, you need to understand some of the twists and turns of America's most infamous "non-scandal, scandal.”

I was in Benghazi well before, during, and after the attack as a US diplomat and co-director of a medical NGO. I have written three books, and have been a contributor to The NYT, Foreign Affairs, Forbes, Salon, The Financial Times, Newsweek, and others.

By Ethan Chorin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Benghazi! A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On September 11, 2012, Al Qaeda proxies attacked and set fire to the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, killing a US Ambassador and three other Americans.  The attack launched one of the longest and most consequential 'scandals' in US history, only to disappear from public view once its political value was spent. 

Written in a highly engaging narrative style by one of a few Western experts on Libya, and decidely non-partisan, Benghazi!: A New History is the first to provide the full context for an event that divided, incited, and baffled most of America for more than three years, while silently reshaping…

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