The Nature of Economies


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Can economic problems be solved by better government, more experts, bigger computers, more engineering, better education, less government, more dispersed knowledge, more markets?

Networks and the Nature of the Firm

How can we make informed choices? Actually, what economists disagree about is politics or public policy, not economics. Exploring the interface between politics and economics is part of the fun. Economics is the study of given ends and scarce means. Lionel Robbins , biography, from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics :.

That book contains three main thoughts. Political Economy or Economics is a study of mankind in the ordinary business of life; it examines that part of individual and social action which is most closely connected with the attainment and with the use of the material requisites of wellbeing. Thus it is on the one side a study of wealth; and on the other, and more important side, a part of the study of man. Here and there the ardour of the military or the artistic spirit has been for a while predominant: but religious and economic influences have nowhere been displaced from the front rank even for a time; and they have nearly always been more important than all others put together.

Religious motives are more intense than economic, but their direct action seldom extends over so large a part of life.

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For the business by which a person earns his livelihood generally fills his thoughts during by far the greater part of those hours in which his mind is at its best; during them his character is being formed by the way in which he uses his faculties in his work, by the thoughts and the feelings which it suggests, and by his relations to his associates in work, his employers or his employees. Levy and Sandra J.

Econlib, January 22, Everyone knows that economics is the dismal science. And almost everyone knows that it was given this description by Thomas Carlyle, who was inspired to coin the phrase by T. While this story is well-known, it is also wrong, so wrong that it is hard to imagine a story that is farther from the truth. Economics on One Foot , a LearnLiberty video. Subsequent topics include happiness research, the politics and economics of inequality, the role of math in economics, and policy areas where economics has made the greatest contribution….

June 23, They discuss why Southern California experiences frequent water crises, why price falls after Christmas, why popcorn seems so expensive at the movies, and the economics of price discrimination…. James Otteson, using the ideas of Adam Smith, explains how the division of labor is a necessary and crucial element of wealthy nations. Henderson on Disagreeable Economists.

EconTalk podcast, July 30, Henderson claims that this view is wrong—that there is substantial agreement among economists on many scientific questions—while Roberts wonders whether this consensus is getting a bit frayed around the edges. The conversation highlights the challenges the everyday person faces in trying to know when and what to believe when economists take policy positions based on research. Is it biased or science? To bring up the points and counterpoints in the voices of characters, rather than essay format, made them a little easier to follow.

That being said, I didn We read this book as a study group at work, and it spurred a lot of interesting conversation. That being said, I didn't feel much connection to the characters. Some of my co-workers had a better sense of each character's personality, but for me that didn't come through very clearly.

Thus, the ending feels a little odd - as though Jacobs felt the need to wrap up a plot, when there wasn't really much of one. The downside to this book being so readable is that it's easy to breeze through without much critical thinking. Reading through it with others, and having intentional discussions about the topics explored, will help with this. Jun 05, Nick Klagge rated it it was ok Shelves: economics. I had high hopes for this book initially, but found it pretty uninspiring.

First and foremost, the "dialogue" format seems extremely contrived and doesn't feel like it helps to advance the arguments at all. There are so many characters maybe 6?

Natural economy - Wikipedia

As for Jacobs' ideas about economies, they seem reasonable enough, as far as they go--mostly treating economics through the lens of ecology. I often enjoy reading non-economist I had high hopes for this book initially, but found it pretty uninspiring. I often enjoy reading non-economist writers on economics, particularly when they take a heterodox view. But Jacobs, unlike some others Wendell Berry, Gandhi , seems like she is trying too hard to "be legitimate" rather than just saying what she thinks. This book is peppered with phrases such as "Development is differentiation emerging from generality" that seem to me to be mundane observations wrapped up in formal-sounding language.

I liked this book. This is a theoretical book set in the form of a dialogue between friends. Hiram the ecologist argues that the same rules that apply to nature apply to economics with Hortense, Armbruster, Kate and Murray. Although the characters' names are not important they lend a cheerfulness to an otherwise profound set of injunctive observations. I found the parallels she draws very insightful, and persuasive.

Now it seems obvious that economies evolve variations from generalities into m I liked this book. Now it seems obvious that economies evolve variations from generalities into more specialized goods, and that like species in an ecological system they co-relate, creating new and narrower industries. In one of the early chapters of the book it points out that the etymology of Economy and Ecology are related; economy is "house management" and ecology is "house knowledge".

This, I believe is something that has become obscured with the passage of time. I am very excited to read more of her work. Oct 15, Jo rated it it was ok. I wanted to like this book, and it probably contains some enlightening ideas, but the format was too distracting for me to really get into the concepts.

It's structured as a dialogue between a group of presumably tweed-wearing intellectuals who spend their weekend afternoons discussing ecology and economics. In the bizarro universe where these events take place, the characters talk about the Internet but communicate by fax, and record their conversation via a plug-in tape recorder. The weir Ugh. The weirdness is only a small annoyance, though. Worse is how the dialogue meanders, argues with itself, cuts itself off mid-stream so the characters can eat lunch or close the windows when it starts to rain I had tried reading this several years ago, but was so put off by the writing style a dialogue that I quit and gave the book away.

But when I recently re-read Jacobs' books "the economy of cities" and "cities and the wealth of nations" it occurred to me that there were many similarities between evolution of organisms and the evolution of economies. Looking further into this, I came across this book and so borrowed it from the library. What I found particularly interesting was the convergence b I had tried reading this several years ago, but was so put off by the writing style a dialogue that I quit and gave the book away.

What I found particularly interesting was the convergence between her ideas and those expressed in "the God problem". Nov 02, Christopher rated it really liked it. Surprisingly good. I normally have really negative things about almost every single book on Economics I've ever read the curse of majoring in something I suppose , but this is really really good.

I could have done without the conversational fiction, and would have loved some more robust explorations of the concepts but the concepts themselves make this book a must read. Really analytical, really scientifically minded. A real gem. While it features a fair number of interesting ideas and topics, this book left a lot to be desired for me because it was done in a platonic dialogue. If you're looking for a scientific examination of the questions asked this is not the book.


  • ISBN 13: 9780679603405.
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If you want "gee whiz Sep 30, David rated it did not like it Shelves: mind-numbingly-boring , read-in Honesty requires me to revise the number of stars down to one, and to move this to the booooo-ring shelf. I still would like to read her book about cities, but this one was a yawnfest from beginning to end. That device of putting assorted arguments into the mouths of invented characters soooooo doesn't work. View 1 comment. Don't be like them. Read this book.

Although the characters are less colorful and their actions less exciting than the first book, let's pretend that we are reading these dialogs for the ideas as well as the action. Some interesting insights into complex systems and spontaneous order in Economics, presented in a format that prevents The Nature of Economies from being an interesting read.


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Even so, a reader unfamiliar with either Economics or Complex Systems Science may learn something useful from this book. May 28, Nancy rated it liked it. I have to admit, I gave up on this book. It requires a lot of thinking and I didn't have time to give it what it deserves before the library demanded I return it. No economics background required, just some brain space and time to digest!

Apr 14, Jim Talbott rated it really liked it Shelves: female-author , non-fiction. Though not as good as her earlier book on the economy of cities and no where near her classic "Life and Death of Great American Cities," I found her discussion to be thought provoking.

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I can quibble with some minor generalizations that I disagreed with, but her framework illuminates more than it obscures. Dec 18, Libby rated it liked it Shelves: urban-issues. Liked it. Don't think I've fully digested some of her proposed theories yet, but there's time. At the least I learned how redwoods grow so tall! What a waste. Import stretching anyone? The singular insight I derive from the book is about how anxious human economies should be the farther away they are from animal existence.

This anxiety around habitat destruction versus habits of easing off on the economic progress at all costs treadmill is useful -- whether or not consciousness of parasite-host symbiosis exists.

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Mar 21, Art Costa rated it liked it. Jacobs through a masterful technique of dialog demonstrates her versatility in explaining the core principles of natural economies. It reinforces her deep understanding and provides a benchmark of what a vibrant economy is and isn't. Shelves: theory , non-fiction , cultural-studies , fiction , social-commentary. I do sometimes wish she would look a little deeper into the policies she references. Format: Paperback. Although I have the deepest admiration for Jane Jacobs, a national treasure of two countries! First, I have to agree with other reviewers who found the "dialogue" in this book to be almost laughably bad.

I mean, obviously no human being would possibly speak this way "in sum," "to repeat," "to be sure" with friends -- or anyone else, I would hope! Second, the whole Socratic dialogue, pedantic monologue format here can get very tiresome at times. In fact, it's so bad that even its own characters keep nodding off! Third, most of these ideas, although interesting, are nothing original as Jacobs' extensive endnotes prove , although obviously Jacobs has done a great deal of reading, and has synthesized or at least summarized other peoples' ideas fairly well, and that is nothing to sneeze at.

Fourth, and more problematic in my opinion, is the high degree of abstraction, and apparent lack of practical utility, with much of Jacobs' ideas. I mean, it's fascinating and all that human economies are part of nature, but what are the real-life policy implications here? OK, so central planning is bad, but does that mean that Jacobs is in favor of an extreme laissez-faire capitalist approach by government? I doubt it Is Jacobs so optimistic to believe that if we just let things run their natural course, that everything will just all work out for the best?

Or is this just a bunch of Panglossian nonsense? Having said all of this, I still think the book is worth reading, mainly because it is filled with interesting, thought-provoking ideas - whoever came up with them - two of the biggest ones being that humans and their economies are part of nature, and that the more they "biomimic" imitate nature the better off we will all be. Of course, the counterargument to mimicking nature is that nature isn't just a bed of roses, so to speak! As the curmudgeon character Armbruster puts it, all this happy talk of "cooperation, symbiosis, interdependence" seems to ignore the fact that nature is very much "red in tooth and claw.

I DO very much like Jacob's emphasis on the benefits of a complex web of interrelationships, and also on the importance of working ALONG with natural principles, not against them.

touch.simon.dev3.develag.com/217.php In general, Jacobs' view that life at its best is a hustling beehive or tropical rainforest of activity and diversity, as in the crooked streets and serendipitous mixings of a thriving city, is strong and positive. So, the bottom line is that - even in her 80s -- Jane Jacobs still has a lot to say and contribute, even though she said it far better 40 years ago.

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The Nature of Economies The Nature of Economies
The Nature of Economies The Nature of Economies
The Nature of Economies The Nature of Economies
The Nature of Economies The Nature of Economies
The Nature of Economies The Nature of Economies
The Nature of Economies The Nature of Economies
The Nature of Economies The Nature of Economies
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