Economics: The User’s Guide Book Summary - Economics: The User’s Guide Book explained in key points
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Economics: The User’s Guide summary

Ha-Joon Chang

Everything you need to know about economics.

4.3 (157 ratings)
31 mins

Brief summary

Economics: The User's Guide by Ha-Joon Chang introduces key economic concepts in an accessible and engaging way to help readers understand the implications of economic policies for society, individuals and the environment.

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    Economics: The User’s Guide
    Summary of 13 key ideas

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    Economic theory can be applied in many places, but it’s best used in the study of the economy.

    If you’ve ever read the book Freakonomics (as many millions of people have) then you’ve seen the variety of ways that economics can be applied to situations not directly related to “the economy.”

    For example, the book’s authors attempt to explain why sumo wrestlers might cheat by using the economic theory of rational choice, which assumes that each person’s decisions are calculated to produce the best possible outcome.

    But why would a sumo wrestler cheat? Imagine that two sumo wrestlers are facing each other in a match. They also happen to be best friends. However, since one has already qualified for the next tournament, it’s rational for him to lose on purpose to increase the odds that his friend advances.

    This is merely one example. In fact, economic theories have been used to describe a whole host of phenomena.

    And while interesting, we shouldn’t neglect the most important application of economics: studying the economy. Indeed, among the most important elements of economics is the way in which money makes economic systems function.

    In essence, money is the measurement of what society owes you, usually as a result of your labor.

    However, sometimes money is given away freely, through a process called money transfer. In welfare systems, for example, money is usually transferred from those who have it to those who don’t, to provide for basic needs, such as shelter or food.

    Money can be used toward the consumption of goods and services produced by organizations that have a specific combination of labor (workers) and capital (machines and tools necessary for production).

    Your mobile device, for example, came to be through this combination: its processors were invented by workers (labor) and then produced with the help of machines (capital).

    It is these types of relationships, far more than the dilemma of a sumo wrestler, which are the heart of economic theory.

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    What is Economics: The User’s Guide about?

    Economics: The User’s Guide lays out the foundational concepts of economics in an easily relatable and compelling way. Examining the history of economics as well as some critical changes to global economic institutions, this book will teach you everything you need to know about how economics works today.

    Economics: The User’s Guide Review

    Economics: The User’s Guide (2014) is a comprehensive exploration of the fundamental concepts and principles of economics, making it a must-read for anyone looking to gain a deeper understanding of the subject. Here's why this book stands out:

    • It offers a clear and accessible explanation of complex economic theories, making it easy for readers to grasp even the most challenging concepts.
    • Through real-world examples and case studies, the book demonstrates how economics shapes our daily lives, making it relevant and engaging.
    • With its refreshing and balanced perspective on economic policies, the book challenges conventional thinking, sparking critical thinking and debate.

    Best quote from Economics: The User’s Guide

    Few thought that there was anything wrong with hiring children.

    —Ha-Joon Chang
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    Who should read Economics: The User’s Guide?

    • Anyone interested in the history of economics
    • Anyone interested in the intersection of politics and economics
    • Anyone who dozed through Economics 101 in college

    About the Author

    Ha-Joon Chang is the author of the bestseller 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism (also available in blinks) and writes a regular column for The Guardian. He has advised a number of national and international banks, and teaches economics at Cambridge University.

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    Economics: The User’s Guide FAQs 

    What is the main message of Economics: The User’s Guide?

    Economics is a powerful tool that can help us understand and shape the world around us.

    How long does it take to read Economics: The User’s Guide?

    The estimated reading time for Economics: The User’s Guide is several hours, while the Blinkist summary can be read in just a few minutes.

    Is Economics: The User’s Guide a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Economics: The User’s Guide is definitely worth reading. It provides a fresh perspective on economics and its impact on our lives.

    Who is the author of Economics: The User’s Guide?

    Ha-Joon Chang is the author of Economics: The User’s Guide.

    What to read after Economics: The User’s Guide?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Economics: The User’s Guide, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell
    • A Little History of Economics by Niall Kishtainy
    • 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang
    • Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth
    • Time Smart by Ashley Whillans
    • Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
    • The Body by Bill Bryson
    • Discipline Is Destiny by Ryan Holiday
    • Languishing by Corey Keyes
    • Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson