The Enlightened Economist Book Prize shortlist, 2013

It is a year since I announced the winner of the inaugural Enlightened Economist Book Prize – it was Ariel Rubinstein’s Economic Fables. A little late this year, here is this year’s shortlist.

A reminder of the rules. This prize is wholly idiosyncratic. The entrants are books I happen to have read since the last prize – date of publication, format etc are irrelevant. They are suitable for the general reader as well as the professional economist. The choice of winner is entirely mine, although I’m always interested in other people’s opinions. The prize is the kudos, although I also offer a nice dinner to the winner, should he or she want to take it up.

Just recently I discussed some of the best books of the year with Tyler Cowen and Cardiff Garcia on the FT Alphaville podcast, so there is a small overlap (the first three titles here) with that discussion in my list.

The first time through my notes, I came up with shortlist of 28, which isn’t all that short. So I brutally struck out all the non-economics books, including some terrific histories, such as Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe by Anne Applebaum and Building Jerusalem by Tristram Hunt, and technology books like Turing’s Cathedral by George Dyson and Robot Futures by Illah Reza Nourbaksh.

So here is the final shortlist.

Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O Hirschman by Jeremy Adelman

America’s Assembly Line by David Nye

America’s Assembly Line

Giving Kids a Fair Chance by James Heckman

Average is Over by Tyler Cowen

The Undercover Economist Strikes Back by Tim Harford

The Carbon Crunch by Dieter Helm

The Carbon Crunch: How We’re Getting Climate Change Wrong – and How to Fix it

The Great Rebalancing: Trade, Conflict and the Perilous Road ahead for the World Economy by Michael Pettis

The Bankers New Clothes by Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig

Shooting Star by Karl Sabbagh

Shooting Star (Kindle Single)

When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence by Stephen King

The Battle of Bretton Woods by Benn Steil

The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction by Nate Silver

The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction

I will announce my winner in a couple of weeks.

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5 thoughts on “The Enlightened Economist Book Prize shortlist, 2013

  1. Pingback: Banker bashing* | The Enlightened Economist

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  3. Great list, and I will buy the three I have not already read. I guess I am not surprised that your list is so much more intelligent than some of its peers,.e.g. the FT list. I think the Adelman and Pettis books are especially appropriate, given that Pettis is really calling for a kind of re-thinking of the way we understand economics that puts a lot more focus on understanding systems and getting the historical context right, while Hirschman, the subject of Adelman’s book, is one of the most brilliant development economists of the last century who too insisted that we treat economies as unique systems each with their own historical specifics and socially-grounded incentive structures. It is probably no coincidence that both Pettis and Hirschman have been extremely influential, especially among policymakers, investors, and, in academia, among political economists and political scientists, but are much less widely cited within the economics departments of big universities. They may be good econom,ists for the same reason that they are not good academics. Hirshman was never seriously considered a Nobel contender, and I suspect Pettis won’t be either, even though they are far better economists than a substantial number of previous winners.
    As for the rest of your selections, I am pleased, but not surprised, that many of your favorite books were written by economists or analysts for whom history is the best economics teacher. Thanks for all you are doing in spreading real economic thinking among the humble masses.

    • You are really very kind. I’m increasingly certain that good economics needs the mix of inductive and deductive thinking, and you can’t do it well without understanding history and context.

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