Alchian and Allen, opportunity cost, and the kid in the candy store

The new Alchian and Allen book Universal Economics is out. The publisher reports the authors have collaborated to produce a ”fresh, final presentation of the analytical tools” contained in their famous (among a certain kind of economics nerd) textbooks University Economics and Exchange and Production. In introducing the idea of opportunity cost in the new … More Alchian and Allen, opportunity cost, and the kid in the candy store

Richard Rhodes, “Energy: A Human History”

Richard Rhodes has written an amazing book. He aspired to tell the tales of energy transitions over the past 400 years. His Energy: A Human History accomplishes that task. The book is daunting in size for non-required reading. It is filled with brief stories of this or that device or discovery or development, and almost overwhelming … More Richard Rhodes, “Energy: A Human History”

Fun with Footnotes (A game of scholarly discovery)

“Let’s … have … fun … with … footnote[s],” MacLean said.* Here is a simple game of scholarship that anyone can play and everyone who plays by accepted norms of scholarship wins!** How to play: Take the recently published book Democracy in Chains, open it randomly to a page in the text, find a footnote … More Fun with Footnotes (A game of scholarly discovery)

Al Roth’s new book on matchmaking and market design

Alex Tabarrok reviews Al Roth‘s new book, Who Gets What — and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design, in the Wall Street Journal. An excerpt: Most economic theory focuses on commodity markets, in which anyone willing to pay the price gets the good and anyone not willing to pay the price doesn’t. In … More Al Roth’s new book on matchmaking and market design

Pauline Maier on colonial radicalism

With Independence Day upon us, my bedtime reading for the past couple of weeks has become timely. Pauline Maier, the MIT historian who unfortunately passed away last year, published From Resistance to Revolution in 1972. It’s a carefully researched and well-written account, weaving together reports from contemporaneous sources, of the increasing radicalization of American colonists … More Pauline Maier on colonial radicalism

Take a gamble on “The Bet”: It is a balanced history of the Simon-Ehrlich conflict on population and scarcity

Paul Sabin’s The Bet offers perhaps the best-researched, best-written and most thorough account of the history and meaning of the famous 1980 bet between population pessimist Paul Ehrlich and resource optimist Julian Simon. Sabin is unceasingly fair in his treatment of the antagonists, a tough trick to pull off when working with such charged material. … More Take a gamble on “The Bet”: It is a balanced history of the Simon-Ehrlich conflict on population and scarcity

Michael Chwe’s Jane Austen, Game Theorist

As trenchant observers of human nature, great fiction writers are often very good social scientists. Jane Austen, one of my favorite authors, was a writer with great analytical depth and insight. In addition to the irony and wit for which she is famous, Austen’s writing reflects the philosophical and cultural mindset of the “long 18th … More Michael Chwe’s Jane Austen, Game Theorist