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Jeff Marshall

What should I read to understand Objectivist Economics?

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I'm starting to get extremely interested in economics and I'm slightly scared that if I get a hold of a bad book/author in my beginning stages of learning that it will screw me up for good. AR constantly mentions Mises and Austrian Economics. Should I start reading Austrian tilted books or are there better books with which to build my economic foundation on?

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Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson is quite good for debunking many economic myths such as Full Employment, Unions, and much more. So far Ludwig von Mises' Human Action seems to be pretty good (albeit I am still on chapter one.) George Reisman's Capitalism is supposedly very good, as it synthesizes Austrian Economics with Objectivism.

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Keep in mind there is no such thing as official "Objectivist Economics." For an introduction to the study of economics, I would recommend The Wordly Philosophers by Heilbroner. For an introduction to solid economic principles, I would suggest Hazlitt's work. For information on business cycles, I sent this list to a poster here in private at one point:

The General Theory of[...] by Keynes

The Theory of Money and Credit by Mises

Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle by Mises

Prices and Production by Hayek

Time and Money by Garrison

Business Cycles by Schumpeter

Recessions and Depressions: Understanding Business Cycles by Knoop

Many of Milton Friedman's works are also good. Read everything you can get your hands on and form your own opinions. Keep in mind that a lot of work needs to be done in economic methodology. If you have access to economic journals, you can find some good articles there as well. The "Journal of Economic Perspectives" is one of the least technical and often has quality work.

Edited by adrock3215

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Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson is quite good for debunking many economic myths such as Full Employment, Unions, and much more. So far Ludwig von Mises' Human Action seems to be pretty good (albeit I am still on chapter one.) George Reisman's Capitalism is supposedly very good, as it synthesizes Austrian Economics with Objectivism.

I must agree with you on that. Economics in One Lesson is also recommended by Dr. Peikoff, which is reason enough for me to read it. If you happen to Google it, many pdf or HTML versions of the book come back as a result. I thought it was public domain at first, but upon research I'm almost 100% sure that these are illegal copies. It's not hard to find this book used online, for cheap.

Also Capitalism: An Unknown Ideal, of course, if you haven't read it already. If you're interested in "Objectivist Economics," this is it. A little difficult to grasp, but it definitely reveals many economic myths in its naked ugliness. Definitely worth a read.

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I'm starting to get extremely interested in economics and I'm slightly scared that if I get a hold of a bad book/author in my beginning stages of learning that it will screw me up for good. AR constantly mentions Mises and Austrian Economics. Should I start reading Austrian tilted books or are there better books with which to build my economic foundation on?

There are two approaches to studying economics: reading economic treatises by Hayek, Mises, Menger, etc or getting a broad but shallow overview from many essays. If you are actually willing to read an original treatise, do so by all means, but don't wear yourself out on a single work and miss the bigger picture.

Here are some books to read:

There are some important essays here: http://mises.org/misesuniv.asp

Also, some self-promotion: http://oneminute.rationalmind.net/category/economics/

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I've not read it yet, but I hear Andrew Bernstein's The Capitalist Manifesto is good.

It's not anything like an economics textbook though. It discusses philosophy and gives a lot of history and debunks a lot of asshat socialist myths.

On second thought I shouldn't have crossed out "asshat."

It is an excellent book (when Bernstein told me it was 500 pages my jaw dropped--it was such a great read it hadn't seemed that long!) but probably not what you are looking for at the moment.

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I've been told that Jean-Baptiste Say's "A Treatise on Political Economy" is the best work on economics for Objectivists. Is this true, and how does it compare to "Human Action" by Ludwig von Mises?

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In case you'd like to check it out, Say's treatise is online, as is Mises's "Human Action".

Of those two, I would suggest the former, particularly if its among the first 10 books one reads on economics. In general, the classical scholars tend to be less abstract that Mises.

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I recommend you to read the following books, in the following order:

Economics in one lesson by Henry Hazlitt: https://www.aynrandbookstore2.com/prodinfo.asp?number=DH01B

Economics for real people by Gene Callahan: http://mises.org/resources/2031

Markets don't fail! by Brian P Simpson: https://www.aynrandbookstore2.com/prodinfo.asp?number=DS81B

Economic Policy by Ludwig von Mises: http://mises.org/etexts/ecopol.pdf

Capitalism: A Treatise on Econmics by George Reisman: http://www.capitalism.net/Capitalism/CAPITALISM_Internet.pdf

Human Action by Ludwig von Mises: http://mises.org/resources/3250

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Personally, my view is that if one intends to read Mises, they should probably start with Menger. If you hit up the Ludwig Von Mises institute, you can order Carl Menger's Principles of Economics, which will lay the basic foundation for the rest of the Austrian school. It can be a bit of a troublesome read (the grammar employed is not something I'd personally encountererd elsewhere, possibly because it was originally written in german), but it will prepare you for thinking like an Austrian Economist. From there, Human Action and pretty much anything by Mises or Hayek makes for a good route.

Edited by Markoso

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