Foster faculty recommend favorite books on macroeconomic trends

April 17, 2014

We asked faculty of the University of Washington Foster School of Business to recommend their favorite books that elucidate what’s happening—or going to happen—in the economy at large. Here are their picks for some reads that are well worth your time:

A Capitalism for the People: Recapturing the Lost Genius of American Prosperity (Luigi Zingales)
“A leading research economist, Zingales uses anecdotes and experience to motivate and personalize the story, but underneath is a bedrock of scientific research about the causes and consequences of economic growth and well-being. This book is fresh in its applications, yet backed by decades of evidence.”
-Jonathan Karpoff, the Washington Mutual Endowed Chair in Innovation Professor of Finance

 

Free to Choose: A Personal Statement (Milton and Rose Friedman)
“The late Milton Freidman was a great public good for his clear analysis of the economics involved in policy issues. This book, while a little dated, is the best we can do now. Even better is the companion PBS television series that captures his unsurpassed quickness of thinking during discussions with opponents of his ideas, and his unmatched ability to explain the core reasoning behind his arguments using simple logic that any non-economist can understand.”
 -Ed Rice, Associate Professor of Finance and Business Economics


The Wisdom of Crowds (James Surowiecki)
“Surowiecki does a great job explaining important insights from informational economics to a general audience, in a way that illustrates their power. A large fraction of modern economic research is in informational economics, but this part of the field is typically very poorly communicated to non-specialists.”
-Philip Bond, Associate Professor of Finance and Business Economics, Norman J. Metcalfe Endowed Professor in Finance


In 100 Years: Leading Economists Predict the Future (Ignacio Palacios-Huerta)
“Ten prominent economists consider the 22nd century, and forecast the potential effects of technology, increased longevity, work transformation, the rise of China and India, political extremism, repeating cycles of crisis and recovery, and climate change. I was especially interested in the consequence of understanding the human genome.”
-Stephan Siegel, Long Endowed Professor of Finance


The World is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (Thomas Friedman)
“This classic opens, or re-opens, our eyes and ears to the opportunities in the global markets and cultures, and how we need to think about the changes necessary to be successful—as individuals, as companies and in our cultural awareness.”
-Rick McPherson, Lecturer in Management


 

Code Red: An Economist Explains How to Revive the Healthcare System without Destroying It (David Dranove)
“The US spends almost $3 trillion on health care annually, making it a topical issue and one with ongoing political intervention. Code Red helps interested readers understand why standard economic solutions do not work in healthcare, and why this industry is so hard to regulate.”
-Jonathan Brogaard, Assistant Professor of Finance


The Myth of America’s decline: Politics, Economics, and a Half Century of False Prophecies (Josef Joffe)
“For decades, pundits have been predicting the decay of the US economy and influence at the hands of a rising Japan, integrated Europe and, most recently, China. The author does an effective job placing these predictions in an historical context, and offers a balanced perspective to an environment in which pessimism and predictions of decline garner more votes and sell more books.”
-Kevin Steensma, Professor of Management, Evert McCabe Faculty Fellow

 

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (Michael Lewis)
“It's one thing to spot an economic trend. It's another to know when an acknowledged trend is wrong. And it's yet another to incur the wrath of the majority by opposing it. Michael Lewis, of Liar's Poker and Moneyball fame, tells the fascinating tale of a handful of brave souls and eccentrics who bet against the US housing market before it collapsed. It was harder than you expect.”
-Rocky Higgins, Professor of Finance, Marguerite Reimers Endowed Faculty Fellow


Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Thomas Piketty)
“Piketty is the foremost economist working on the distribution of income and wealth. In this book, he presents new and important facts on the changing level of wealth in the world's leading economies.”
-Philip Bond, Associate Professor of Finance and Business Economics, Norman J. Metcalfe Endowed Professor in Finance


 

In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic (David Wessel)
“This highly readable account of the 2008 financial crisis was originally recommended to me by Karma Hadjimichalakis. Even though the financial crisis and the subsequent recession are over, reviewing the 2008 experience helps us to understand current policies, including those designed to avoid another crisis in the future.”
-Debra Glassman, Senior Lecturer in Business Economics, Faculty Director, Global Business Center

 

Too Big To Fail (Andrew Ross Sorkin), Liar’s Poker (Michael Lewis), and When Genius Failed (Roger Lowenstein)
“Investors tend not remember the past and believe that financial markets have become safer and that the future is rosier. But somehow, we once again went through a crash in 2008 and teetered on the brink of another Great Depression. So learn from the past, learn from the mistakes of others, and always be humble!”
-Thomas Gilbert, Assistant Professor of Finance


Who Stole the American Dream? (Hedrick Smith)
“This book outlines, in very accessible detail, the deterioration—in numbers and economic security—of the American middle class. It should serve as a wake-up call for those of us who think that all is well with the 21st century American economic system.”
-Thomas Jones, Professor of Management, The Boeing Company Endowed Professor in Business Management


The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (C.K. Prahalad)
“Understanding the differences in the perspectives and needs of the billions of potential customers that are the poorest people in the world is very valuable, and thinking about how business can help alleviate poverty is very interesting to me.”
-Rick McPherson, Lecturer in Management


 

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution (Chris Anderson)
“This is an interesting book about how trends in open-source innovation, open-source design and 3D printing are enabling individuals to manufacture small batches of customized products. The author calls this industrial revolution "desktop manufacturing” and suggests that these trends, when combined, have the potential to change the world. He also examines through examples how crowdfunding and social financing are opening up opportunities for individuals seeking funds to start new ventures.”
-Suresh Kotha, Professor of Management, Olesen/Battelle Excellence Chair in Entrepreneurship
Research Director, Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship

The Economist
“I recommend weekly reading of the Economist magazine. The coverage is timely, relevant, and thoughtful.  First time through is a bit of a slog, but if you read it regularly then it will require an hour or less each week. The benefit is that you will be able to knowledgeably contribute to any discussion of current events, as well as be aware of current things going on that may affect your firm or your family.”
-Kathy Dewenter, Associate Professor of Finance and Joshua Green Family Endowed Professor


There Will Be Blood (film by Paul Thomas Anderson)
“For something completely different… This film has some great scenes on the difficulty of negotiation under asymmetric information (jargon for different people knowing different things), and between one party and a group.”
-Philip Bond, Associate Professor of Finance and Business Economics, Norman J. Metcalfe Endowed Professor in Finance