Basic Economics is a citizen's guide to economics, written for those who want to understand how the economy works but have no interest in jargon or equations. Bestselling economist Thomas Sowell explains the general principles underlying different economic systems: capitalist, socialist, feudal, and so on. In readable language, he shows how to critique economic policies in terms of the incentives they create, rather than the goals they proclaim. With clear explanations of the entire field, from rent control and the rise and fall of businesses to the international balance of payments, this is the first book for anyone who wishes to understand how the economy functions.
This fifth edition includes a new chapter explaining the reasons for large differences of wealth and income between nations.
Drawing on lively examples from around the world and from centuries of history, Sowell explains basic economic principles for the general public in plain English.
About the Author
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is the author of dozens of books including Charter Schools and Their Enemies, winner of the 2021 Hayek Book Prize. He is the recipient of numerous other awards, including the National Humanities Medal, presented by the President of the United States in 2003.
“Clear and concise… Among economists of the past thirty years, Thomas Sowell stands very proud indeed.”—Wall Street Journal
“Basic Economics is not only valuable for a general lay-person audience; it would also benefit lawyers, politicians, and yes, economists as well.”—Washington Times
“Basic Economics is a healthy main course disguised as a rich dessert…Thomas Sowell’s smooth writing, irresistible logic, deep knowledge, and flawless economics make each page an explanatory treat to experts and novices alike.” —Thomas Hazlett, Professor of Law & Economics and Director, Information Economy Project, George Mason University
“Badly needed…Anyone who has been subjected to biased and dreary economics textbooks should read Basic Economics as a bracing corrective.”—Claremont Review of Books
“Basic Economics reveals in every chapter why Thomas Sowell is one of America’s greatest thinkers. It is must-reading for anyone who wants the truth about how the laws of economics govern so many of the events in our daily lives.”—Arthur C. Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute and author of The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future
“Basic Economics demonstrates Thomas Sowell’s ability to make economics understandable to a person who hasn’t set foot in an economics class. It’s a book rich with explanations and examples of everyday economics issues.”—Walter E. Williams, John M. Olin Distinguished Professor Economics, George Mason University
“The unyielding truths of economics befuddle social engineers of all stripes. Thomas Sowell, in exemplary fashion, strips the mystery from those truths, making them intuitive—even obvious.”—David Boaz, Executive Vice President, Cato Institute and author of Libertarianism: A Primer
“[Basic Economics, 4th Edition] covers the whole range of economic concerns…It eliminates the usual graphs and equations, presenting readable text instead that any reader might find convincing.”—Book News, Inc.
“Sowell’s volume [Basic Economics, 4th Edition] does a fantastic job in cultivating the reader’s ‘economic imagination’…[Sowell] does a masterful job in helping to fill in the process of economic adjustment that blackboard equilibrium analysis often leaves out.”—Choice
“Thomas Sowell's classic provides an engaging — and at times entertaining — crash course through economics and its application to public policy and personal finance…Sowell helps readers understand how economics applies to everyday life. It isn’t about revenue, profits, stocks and bonds, as much as it is about making choices…His language is eloquent, as well as accessible…Basic Economics is a useful guide for someone who wants to know more about how the business world operates and also how to interpret public policy proposals.” —Deseret Morning News
“It [Basic Economics, 4th Edition] is also one of the most — if not the most — lucid, comprehensive and eminently readable overviews of economics fundamentals you are ever likely to encounter.”—Redstate (blog)
“A valuable book…Basic Economics is a comprehensive, yet understandable explanation of how economics works…Sowell presents economics in prose that is easily understood and engaging to read…Basic Economics is one of those books anyone wishing to be an informed citizen should read — and it is interesting enough to make enjoyable reading.” —The Daily News, Galveston County Texas