Enlightened Economist Prize 2017 – longlist

I’m late this year with drawing up my longlist. The rules are that the contenders are the books I happen to have read this past 12 months (they don’t have to have been published in 2017), and the choice of the ultimate winner is mine alone. Criteria include: interest and importance, enjoyability/readability/accessibility, and being related to economics (ruling out my history and pop science reading). Links are to reviews on this blog.

With that, and in no particular order, the 2017 longlist is:

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

[amazon_link asins=’0141983043′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’enlighteconom-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’71160bc8-dda2-11e7-b592-abce019d03d7′]

Hall of Mirrors by Barry Eichengreen

[amazon_link asins=’0190621079′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’enlighteconom-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’7c963a85-dda2-11e7-900b-2f45ff556929′]

The Financial Diaries by Jonathan Morduch and Rachel Schneider

[amazon_link asins=’B01M5IMF5J’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’enlighteconom-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’877ee4f8-dda2-11e7-bf0b-9b213d2ae746′]

The Wisdom of Finance by Mihir Desai

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Beating the Odds by Justin Yifu Lin and Celestin Monga

[amazon_link asins=’0691176051′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’enlighteconom-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’afe2669d-dda2-11e7-93c8-570b42414e18′]

The Pricing of Progress by Eli Cook

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Adaptive Markets by Andrew Lo

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Economics for the Common Good by Jean Tirole

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Straight Talk on Trade by Dani Rodrik

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The Attention Merchants by Timothy Wu

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I’ll decide on the winner before Christmas. The Prize is the offer of a fine lunch or dinner should the prizewinner and I find ourselves in the same place. Oh, and the glory.

By the way, my nominations for the best non-econ books I read this year are:

Second Hand Time and The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich

[amazon_link asins=’0141983523′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’enlighteconom-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’0ddbdde5-dda3-11e7-a6a5-5fe1e4dbabd2′] [amazon_link asins=’1910695114′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’enlighteconom-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’148b98ff-dda3-11e7-a984-5d05f5e7fc18′]

The Deluge by Adam Tooze

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East West Street by Philippe Sands

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The Enlightened Economist Prize 2017 – the winner!

It has been a tough choice, as ever, to pick one winner out of the 14 titles on my longlist. It was a good year and all 14 are terrific books. After days of mulling it over, three contenders became clear. One was Robert Gordon’s The Rise and Fall of American Growth, because even though I disagree with parts of his analysis of today’s economy, it is a brilliant, magisterial work of economic history. All economists should read it. But Prof Gordon has won plenty of accolades for the book already and doesn’t need mine. I really enjoyed also Sam Bowles’s The Moral Economy, on the strengths but importantly the limits of economic analysis based on incentives as opposed to ‘moral sentiments’.


However, the Enlightened Economist Prize winner for 2016 is a book that was enjoyable to read, informed me about all kinds of things I hadn’t known, and is full of insights about the relationship between money and politics, and the nature of property and value. It’s a great example of history helping one think more clearly about the present and maybe the near future. It is Rebecca Spang’s Stuff and Money in the Time of the French Revolution.

Rebecca, if you read this, it means I owe you a nice lunch or dinner if we’re ever in the same place.








Winner of the Enlightened Economist Prize 2015

It has been a tough year to decide which of the titles on the longlist would win. The rules are that I make up the criteria and decide for myself – it’s a combination of readability,  telling me things I didn’t already know, and likely shelf longevity. And I have to have read the book in the past 12 months; publication date is not relevant.

The shortlist included [amazon_link id=”0262525968″ target=”_blank” ]Cybernetic Revolutionaries[/amazon_link] by Eden Medina, [amazon_link id=”0241003555″ target=”_blank” ]Why Information Grows[/amazon_link] by Cesar Hidalgo and [amazon_link id=”1781254435″ target=”_blank” ]Other People’s Money[/amazon_link] by John Kay.

[amazon_image id=”0262525968″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende’s Chile[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0465048994″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”1781254435″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Other People’s Money: Masters of the Universe or Servants of the People?[/amazon_image]

But the winner is: [amazon_link id=”0691152845″ target=”_blank” ]Mastering Metrics[/amazon_link] by Joshua Angrist and Jorn-Steffen Pischke. It might seem surprising that I chose an econometrics text, but seriously if you have any interest at all in understanding how to treat evidence carefully and reason about causation, this is a very accessible explanation. It is also straightforward to read and understand – the technical bits are in an appendix to each chapter and easily skipped. I certainly think every economist and student of economics ought to read this book.

[amazon_image id=”B00SLVGQD0″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Mastering ‘Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect: Written by Joshua D. Angrist, 2015 Edition, Publisher: Princeton University Press [Paperback][/amazon_image]

The Enlightened Economist Prize 2015 – the long list

A bit late this year, here is my shortlist for my personal prize for the best book I’ve read since last year’s shortlist. The rules are that date of publication doesn’t matter, only my date of reading the book, and that the winner in a week or so will be entirely my arbitrary choice – the one I enjoyed the most. The prize, apart from glory, is my offer to take the winner out for dinner .

So here they are in no particular order:

[amazon_link id=”0393246418″ target=”_blank” ]Economics Rules[/amazon_link] by Dani Rodrik (How to do economics well – review here )

[amazon_link id=”0241003555″ target=”_blank” ]Why Information Grows[/amazon_link] Cesar Hidalgo (Information based economies  – review)

[amazon_link id=”000752076X” target=”_blank” ]Who Gets What and Why[/amazon_link] Alvin Roth (Market design – review)

[amazon_link id=”0300195664″ target=”_blank” ]Learning by Doing[/amazon_link] James Bessen – (Technology and work – will review very soon)

[amazon_link id=”1781688451″ target=”_blank” ]The Happiness industry[/amazon_link] William Davies – (Scepticism about behavioural economics and utilitarianism – review)

[amazon_link id=”0571308015″ target=”_blank” ]Nothing is True and Everything is Possible[/amazon_link] Peter Pomerantsev (The scary truth about modern Russia – review)

[amazon_link id=”1846146410″ target=”_blank” ]The Reckoning[/amazon_link] Jacob Soll (The history and influence of accountancy – review)

[amazon_link id=”0465059996″ target=”_blank” ]Rise of the Robots[/amazon_link] Martin Ford – (Technology and jobs, a pessimistic view – review)

[amazon_link id=”B00UJD8AS2″ target=”_blank” ]Other People’s Money[/amazon_link] John Kay (Pernicious modern finance – review)

[amazon_link id=”0262016494″ target=”_blank” ]Cybernetic Revolutionaries[/amazon_link] Eden Medina (Using technology to shape society in Allende’s Chile – review)

[amazon_link id=”0691152845″ target=”_blank” ]Mastering Metrics[/amazon_link] Joshua Angrist and Steffen Pischke (Econometrics of the best kind, made fun – review)

[amazon_link id=”B00WQRFC30″ target=”_blank” ]Inequality[/amazon_link] Anthony Atkinson (What to do about it (and why), a practical agenda – review)

[amazon_link id=”0691160392″ target=”_blank” ]Foragers, Farmers and Fossil Fuels[/amazon_link] Ian Morris (Long run economic history – review)

[amazon_link id=”1783350644″ target=”_blank” ]Swimming with the Sharks[/amazon_link] – Joris Luydendijk (The sociology of pernicious modern finance – review)


The Enlightened Economist Prize, 2014

A month ago I announced the shortlist for the Enlightened Economist Prize this year – as a reminder, the rules are that any book I happened to read during the previous 12 months is eligible, and the choice is entirely mine. The prize is the offer of dinner to the winner.

It has been a tough choice this year as I enjoyed all the books and there was no obvious standout. So it has taken much deliberation for me to decide to award the prize this year to [amazon_link id=”0691152098″ target=”_blank” ]Complexity and the Art of Public Policy[/amazon_link] by David Colander and Roland Kupers. It wasn’t the easiest read on the shortlist, but is a thought-provoking book from which I learned a lot. Here is my review of the book. Congratulations to the authors, and if they should be visiting London, dinner is on me!

[amazon_image id=”0691152098″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Complexity and the Art of Public Policy: Solving Society’s Problems from the Bottom Up[/amazon_image]