• Cocktail and Dinner Party Economics
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  • Dinner Party Economics

A Complicated No

In contrast to an ordinary No which begins with No and ends with No, a positive No begins with Yes  and ends with Yes.    The Power of a Positive No:  How to say No and still get to Yes by William Ury     Life, she’s a complicated–and never more so than when you have to say No in a situation which expects a Yes.  This book outlines how to do that in a simple, straightforward way.  This is a quick and enjoyable read (I read the  book in an afternoon) but the strategy proposed is anything but.  However, I am with the author in believing this approach is worth it in the long run.  The benefits outweigh the costs in economist speak. The main point the author makes over and over is that the harder the No the more respect you have to give to the person receiving that No.  I was particularly struck by the quote by Frank Barron at the beginning of Chapter 3  (Respect your way to Yes). “Never take a person’s dignity:  it is worth everything to them, and nothing to you.”

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Guest Blogger Blows Bubbles

Why do they use the word “boom” to describe what happens before a price bubble ends? “Boom” normally refers to a growth period of an economy but it also refers to the kinds of explosions used to destroy buildings.  Lots of commentators are concerned that house prices in Canada are too high and cannot do anything but fall (with the subsequence destruction of national income, wealth and of Western Civilization).  If true then two questions should be answered but the possible answers illustrate the weaknesses of the comments.  The answers indicate ideas which students should think about more carefully.

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Economic His-Story

Economics alone will not guide a country that has no vital leadership, but leadership will lack for clear directions without the inspiration of an enlightened as well as an enlarged self-definition of economics. Page 321  The Worldly Philosophers:  The lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers by Robert L Heilbroner Most of the  characters Heilbroner writes about are usually never mentioned in an introductory Economics class.   Indeed, I would  only mention Adam Smith and David Ricardo  in microeconomics and John Maynard Keynes in macroeconomics. I might mention Thomas Malthus but only if the text covers the Solow growth model in some detail.   I can’t say I have ever talked about Henry George.  And that is what makes this book fascinating in a quirky sort of way.  These men (and they are all men)  Heilbroner thought were the  big thinkers of their time and now many are largely reduced to footnotes in modern economic textbooks. This book fleshes out a history of economic thought since The Enlightenment but through Heilboner’s somewhat biased eyes. His bias is left-wing so he skips  right-wing thinkers like Friedrich von Hayek, and Milton Friedman who turned out to the extremely important  both economically and politically. While  many of the economists he does feature aren’t  critical to the advancement of economic ideas  (for example  Henry George or Thorstein Veblen)  they are nonetheless interesting people,  Furthermore, they made quite a splash during their day. It is  just that their influence didn’t stand the test of time. This book is a very readable, educational and entertaining book.  I think it is worth reading just to cover the lives and revolutionary ideas of Adam Smith, Ricardo and Keynes.    

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