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Princeton University Press

Economics in Two Lessons: Why Markets Work So Well, and Why They Can Fail So Badly

Economics in Two Lessons: Why Markets Work So Well, and Why They Can Fail So Badly

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A masterful introduction to the key ideas behind the successes--and failures--of free-market economics

Since 1946, Henry Hazlitt's bestselling Economics in One Lesson has popularized the belief that economics can be boiled down to one simple lesson: market prices represent the true cost of everything. But one-lesson economics tells only half the story. It can explain why markets often work so well, but it can't explain why they often fail so badly--or what we should do when they stumble. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Samuelson quipped, "When someone preaches 'Economics in one lesson, ' I advise: Go back for the second lesson." In Economics in Two Lessons, John Quiggin teaches both lessons, offering a masterful introduction to the key ideas behind the successes--and failures--of free markets.

Economics in Two Lessons explains why market prices often fail to reflect the full cost of our choices to society as a whole. For example, every time we drive a car, fly in a plane, or flick a light switch, we contribute to global warming. But, in the absence of a price on carbon emissions, the costs of our actions are borne by everyone else. In such cases, government action is needed to achieve better outcomes.

Two-lesson economics means giving up the dogmatism of laissez-faire as well as the reflexive assumption that any economic problem can be solved by government action, since the right answer often involves a mixture of market forces and government policy. But the payoff is huge: understanding how markets actually work--and what to do when they don't.

Brilliantly accessible, Economics in Two Lessons unlocks the essential issues at the heart of any economic question.

Author: John Quiggin
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Published: 04/23/2019
Pages: 408
Binding Type: Hardcover
Weight: 1.50lbs
Size: 8.60h x 5.70w x 1.40d
ISBN: 9780691154947

Review Citation(s):
Choice 10/01/2019

About the Author
John Quiggin is the President's Senior Fellow in Economics at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. His previous book, Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk among Us (Princeton), has been translated into eight languages. He has written for the New York Times and the Economist, among other publications, and is a frequent blogger for Crooked Timber and on his own website: www.johnquiggin.com. Twitter @JohnQuiggin

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