People like me who read economics for fun have to keep reminding ourselves that not everyone shares our choice of amusement. So, of the seven titles I’m about to recommend this holiday season, only two are by economists, while another is about investing in commodities. Still another suggestion is not a book at all, but a full-length, fictional movie that deals with economic themes….
For a more informed perspective on why institutions like the Federal Reserve actually worsen economic fluctuations, try Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles (Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2006), by University of Madrid Professor of Political Economy JesÃºs Huerta de Soto. Directly acknowledging his debt to Austrian economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich A. Hayek, de Soto makes his position clear at the outset. “The privilege bankers have come to enjoy and have been granted in the past by governments for reasons of mutual interest” — namely, the power to create money and credit — is precisely what causes “boom, crisis, and economic recession,” he writes.
Words like “magisterial” and “definitive” might scare off the average reader, so I’ll refrain from using them to describe this book — a readable and often entertaining treatment of an extremely important topic. It has been translated into clear and graceful English from the original Spanish by Melinda A. Stroup.
This tome will also delight history buffs. For example, in the course of a fascinating tour of banking practice from the time of ancient Greece and Rome through the Middle Ages, it traces the formation of the first central bank to Ptolemaic Egypt, circa 300 B.C. Nor do you have to read all of the book’s 800 pages to appreciate its argument.
For somewhat lighter fare, try thumbing through The Quotable Mises (Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2005), edited by Mark Thornton, which consists of a series of quotable statements by Ludwig von Mises on nearly 300 topics sorted alphabetically, from “Action” and “Advertising” to “Working Conditions” and “Youth.”
The “habitual clarity” that Spanish economist de Soto rightly attributes to Mises is revealed by statements like this on the topic of value: “Value is not intrinsic; it is not in things,” observed Mises. “It is within us; it is the way in which man reacts to the conditions of his environment…It is not what man or groups of men say about value that counts, but how they act.”
Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6034/gene-epstein-recommends/