Book Bits | 20 May 2017

Who Stole Our Market Economy?: The Desperate Need For Socioeconomic Progress
By A. Coskun Samli
Summary via publisher (Palgrave Macmillan)
This book discusses the current landscape of our market economy, which is in the hands of financiers and billionaires who decrease competition as well as consumer power. In order for society to fully thrive and provide its members higher living standards and quality of life, it must distribute and deliver the fruits of the economic activity without discrimination and favoritism. This book exposes the real problem of economic inequality, poverty, and the elimination of the middle class and argues for a progressive market economy in the face of regressive conservatism. The author warns of business failures, rigid and unrealistic laws, widespread unemployment, and class warfare without a fair, functional system.

The First Serious Optimist: A. C. Pigou and the Birth of Welfare Economics
By Ian Kumekawa
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
The First Serious Optimist is an intellectual biography of the British economist A. C. Pigou (1877–1959), a founder of welfare economics and one of the twentieth century’s most important and original thinkers. Though long overshadowed by his intellectual rival John Maynard Keynes, Pigou was instrumental in focusing economics
 on the public welfare. And his reputation is experiencing a renaissance today, in part because his idea of “externalities” or spillover costs is the basis of carbon taxes. Drawing from a wealth of archival sources, Ian Kumekawa tells how Pigou reshaped the way the public thinks about the economic role of government and the way economists think about the public good.

Post-Truth: Why We Have Reached Peak Bullshit and What We Can Do About it
By Evan Davis
Summary via publisher (Little, Brown)
This brilliantly insightful book steps inside the panoply of deception employed in all walks of life and assesses how it has come to this. It sets out the surprising logic which explains why bullshit is both pervasive and persistent. Why are company annual reports often nonsense? Why should you not trust estate agents? And above all, why has political campaigning become the art of stretching the truth? Drawing on behavioural science, economics, psychology and of course his knowledge of the media, Evan ends by providing readers with a tool-kit to handle the kinds of deceptions we encounter every day, and charts a route through the muddy waters of the post-truth age.

Reasoning with Data:
An Introduction to Traditional and Bayesian Statistics Using R

By Jeffrey M. Stanton
Summary via publisher (Guilford Press)
Engaging and accessible, this book teaches readers how to use inferential statistical thinking to check their assumptions, assess evidence about their beliefs, and avoid overinterpreting results that may look more promising than they really are. It provides step-by-step guidance for using both classical (frequentist) and Bayesian approaches to inference. Statistical techniques covered side by side from both frequentist and Bayesian approaches include hypothesis testing, replication, analysis of variance, calculation of effect sizes, regression, time series analysis, and more. Students also get a complete introduction to the open-source R programming language and its key packages. Throughout the text, simple commands in R demonstrate essential data analysis skills using real-data examples.

Rethinking Fiscal Policy after the Crisis
Edited by Ľudovít Ódor
Summary via publisher (Cambridge University Press)
Before the financial crisis, fiscal policy often played a secondary role to monetary policy, with the manipulation of interest rates to hit inflation targets being the main instrument of macroeconomic management. However, after the financial crisis and the subsequent euro crisis, fiscal policy has been brought back to the fore. In the past, the limited understanding of the effects of fiscal policy, neglect of monetary-fiscal interactions, faulty institutional set ups or ignorance of market expectations often led to bad policies. This book, written by a team of leading economists, seeks to address the current oversight of fiscal policy and to upgrade our understanding and conduct of fiscal policy, presenting a well-balanced diagnosis and offering several important lessons for future fiscal analysis and policymaking.