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What Would the Great Economists Do?

How Twelve Brilliant Minds Would Solve Today's Biggest Problems

Linda Yueh


What Would the Great Economists Do? Download image

ISBN10: 1250180546
ISBN13: 9781250180544

Trade Paperback

368 Pages


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Since the days of Adam Smith, economists have grappled with a series of familiar problems—but often their ideas are hard to digest, even before we try to apply them to today's issues. Linda Yueh is renowned for her combination of erudition, as an accomplished economist herself, and accessibility, as a leading writer and broadcaster in this field. In What Would the Great Economists Do? she explains the key thoughts of history's greatest economists, how our lives have been influenced by their ideas and how they could help us with the policy challenges that we face today.

In the light of current economic problems, and in particular economic growth, Yueh explores the thoughts of economists from Adam Smith and David Ricardo to contemporary academics Douglass North and Robert Solow. Along the way, she asks, for example, what do the ideas of Karl Marx tell us about the likely future for the Chinese economy? How do the ideas of John Maynard Keynes, who argued for government spending to create full employment, help us think about state intervention? And with globalization in trouble, what can we learn about handling Brexit and Trumpism?

What Would the Great Economists Do? includes:
Adam Smith
David Ricardo
Karl Marx
Alfred Marshall
Irving Fisher
John Maynard Keynes
Joseph Schumpeter
Friedrich Hayek
Joan Robinson
Milton Friedman
Douglass North
Robert Solow


Praise for What Would the Great Economists Do?

"An extremely engaging survey of the life times and ideas of the great thinkers of economic history, woven together with useful discussions of how their ideas still shape economic policy today. Yueh’s book is reminiscent of Heilbroner’s marvelous classic The Wordly Philosophers, but more focused on contemporary debates on inequality, trade and productivity. Although targeted at readers interested in economic issues, this book would also make an excellent supplementary reading for undergraduate courses in economics, politics and social studies."Kenneth Rogoff, Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and Economics, Harvard University, former chief economist at the IMF, and the author of The Curse of Cash

“What would the great economists of the past make of today’s problems? Linda Yueh takes on this ambitious task in this engaging book, introducing us to the work of each economist and conjecturing how they might have advised us. This book is a very readable introduction to the lives and thinking of the greats, and reminds us that policymakers continue to be, as Keynes wrote, 'slaves of some defunct economist.'”Raghuram Rajan, Professor of Economics at The University of Chicago and author of Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy

"Is economics a science in which each new generation’s discoveries build on those of the old? Or a humanistic study in which old ideas remain valid and relevant today? Linda Yueh’s account of the thinking of the great economists demonstrates that both perspectives are true."John Kay, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and the author of Other People's Money: The Real Business of Finance

"Are you looking to learn about the very greatest economists of all time? Linda Yueh's book is the best place to start, a modern-day version of Robert Heilbroner's classic The Worldly Philosophers."Tyler Cowen, the Holbert L. Harris Chair of economics, George Mason University, and author of The Complacent Class and The Great Stagnation

“Economics students are not taught the history of economic thought. They, like others, can learn a lot from this book: some of the great economists of the past had insights that could have saved the subject from its recent embarrassments.”—Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Oxford University

“A highly accessible and lively evaluation of the global financial crisis through the work of 12 top economists, from Adam Smith to John Maynard Keynes. Yueh . . . has a way of simplifying the arcane and ferreting out good news—of which we need a lot.”Newsweek, "Best 50 Books of 2018 (so far)"

"A great way to learn in an easily readable manner about some of the greatest economic influences of the past, but also a good way to test your own a priori assumptions about some of the big challenges of our time."Jim O'Neill, former UK Treasury minister and chief economist at Goldman Sachs who coined the acronym "BRIC" to describe the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China

"Highly accessible . . . Linda gives us great insights into the issues of the current Chinese economy but at the same time links them to the ideas of Marx. With Keynes she explains how his ideas were very relevant to the 1930's but, at the same time, explains why governments confronted with massive debt today do not always follow Keynes' philosophy. I am sure Linda Yueh's original approach will deepen students' understanding of the Great Economists."Lord Norman Lamont, British politician and former Conservative MP for Kingston-upon-Thames

“This well-written book provides more than an engaging discussion of how the 'Great Economists' changed the course of economic thinking and history. It links their insights to current economic challenges, assessing how their unique contributions can improve future well being. It concludes by artfully bringing together the economists' individual insights to shed light on the backlash against globalization. Read it not only to learn about the world's great economists, but also to see how consequential thought innovations can be, and have been.”—Mohamed A. El-Erian, Chief Economic Adviser at Allianz, former CEO of PIMCO

"To anyone with even a passing interest in the economic problems, large and small, affecting us today, What Would the Great Economists Do? comes at the right time: a highly accessible and acute guide to thinking and learning from the men and woman whose work can inform and ultimately aid us in understanding the great national and global crises we're living through."Nouriel Roubini, author of the New York Times bestselling Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance

"A timely and original guide to some of the key economic challenges facing society."Robert A. Cord, editor of The Palgrave Campanion to Cambridge Economics

Reviews from Goodreads


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About the author

Linda Yueh

LINDA YUEH is an economist, broadcaster, and author. She holds senior academic positions at Oxford University, London Business School, and the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is also a broadcaster and was an anchor/correspondent at the BBC and Bloomberg TV. She is a widely published author and serves as editor of a book series on economic growth and development.

Linda's books include What Would the Great Economists Do?, China's Growth: The Making of an Economic Superpower, and Enterprising China.

Kean Wong

Linda Yueh

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