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Basic Economics, Fifth Edition

A Common Sense Guide to the Economy
Written by: Thomas Sowell
Narrated by: Tom Weiner
Length: 23 hrs and 47 mins
5 out of 5 stars (31 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this fifth edition of Basic Economics, Thomas Sowell revises and updates his popular book on commonsense economics, bringing the world into clearer focus through a basic understanding of the fundamental economic principles and how they explain our lives. Drawing on lively examples from around the world and from centuries of history, Sowell explains basic economic principles for the general public in plain English.

Basic Economics,which has now been translated into six languages and has additional material online, remains true to its core principle: that the fundamental facts and principles of economics do not require jargon, graphs, or equations and can be learned in a relaxed and even enjoyable way.

©2014 Thomas Sowell (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A masterpiece

All that a layman ever wanted to know about economics is covered in this book. Concepts are beautifully explained while keeping jargon to the minimum.
Loved reading this

2 people found this helpful

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Simple and interesting

explained in very simple language keeps you interested through the narration, job well done by Author and narrator

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Simple, interesting.

it's Simple and interesting. Made me more knowledgeable. Some basic knowledge though. Cleared some confusions too.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Good book though few of the concepts repeated

Good book to to understand how market economy works and helps understanding the difference between intent and consequence of government policy / intervention.

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Glad I Read This !

Amazing Book. Single most important book most of us would ever read . Just go for this, thank me later :)

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Interesting read

even though I agree with most points in the book, what I didn't like is pushing capitalism as panacea to everything. Never ever the evil side of capitalism has been discussed, may it be how the 8 hour work day was established, the high cost of entry barriers in certain fields, cartelization of conglomerates etc.. overall I liked the idea of presenting economics in plain English and open up certain facts and leaving the interpretation to the listener.

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  • Héctor Jiménez
  • 02-03-20

Basic Economics

1. The author says that other people opinions are emotional and not rational, but he himself uses words such as “idiot”, “stupid”, “silly” or “hysterical” to describe these opinions, which shows that he also is being emotional (at least when speaking about them). 2. The author says that some people only use press articles and not factual data to support their points of view, but he also makes use of press articles to illustrate what he says. 3. The author says that people testifying in monopoly court cases put forward the argument that a company seeking to monopolize the market begin with low prices to put competitors out of this market and afterward(s) this company raises its prices. He criticizes these people because they always fail to show any real-life cases of such monopolies. Nonetheless, he also fails to show any example of, for example, a medical services free market that without any intervention by the state has demonstrated to have higher quality services and lower prices at the same time. 4. The main reason I give only one star to this book is that the 2008 economic crisis clearly proved deregulation (of which he shows to be is a strong advocate in this book) to have been the main incentive to financiers to provoke the real state bubble that finally exploded causing the crisis. Despite this global crisis, the author insists on defending deregulation as a whole. The “bankers” knew that they obtained a commission each time they made a subprime loan and each time they sold or resold a packet of mixed securities. They became richer because they knew there would be no punishment for doing what they did, but they did know that at the end many people would lose their houses, their pensions, their savings, and more. If there had been regulations against the predatory behavior of these financiers, if punishments had already been enacted by the US congress, they would have never dared to act in such an unethical manner. Although it is true that in some cases the intervention of the state through regulation causes negative results, it is also true that in some other cases no regulation at all causes serious long-lasting damage.

36 people found this helpful

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  • M. Kunze
  • 10-02-18

The most eye-opening book I have ever read

A fantastic book by a brilliant author, fantastically read by a brilliant orator.
To anyone who thinks "economics does not interest me", I say: Give this book a try regardless. I promise that, unless you have read other economics books before, this one will feel truly earth shattering. It is well-written, well-researched, easily understandable by everyone and enormous in its educational value. Grab it while you can.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Trenton
  • 04-10-15

Phenomenal!

People say that is all the time, but this REALLY NEEDS to be required reading (listening in this case), and here is why:

Mr. Sowell expertly explains economics in this 25 hour long monster in a way that everyone can understand and enjoy. Everything he says is very well supported either using simple logic, hypothetical situations and many real world international and domestic examples.

Even if you don't agree with his explanations, you will still come out of this book with a better understanding of economics as you would have to come up with a logical reason to disagree with him, because his beautiful explanations and examples are essentially devoid of emotion, which is a very good thing.

Some of my favorite things of the book are:
- His often repeated statement is his definition of economics: Utilization of scarce resources which have alternative uses.
- His explanation of the difference between prices and costs.
- His examples of the effects of price controls.
- The absolute lack of mudslinging towards liberals, he actually operates under the assumption of people encouraging government intervention all with the best of intentions.
- His reminders how economists are known for being boring because of splashing cold water on policies due to cold hard boring facts.

This thing is almost 25 hours long, takes a while to listen to but it is like music to your ears. It's economics pure and simple and is fascinating.

Thomas Sowell for president! (Hey he's only 85, that isn't too old is it?)

65 people found this helpful

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  • Palmetto Bob
  • 13-05-17

Phenomenal Primer

Superior book on basic economics. Dr Sowell explains principles and gives examples that even an ol' boy with a Nebraska education can understand. Highly recommend this book to everyone, most especially to voters and potential voters. Politicians won't read it so we must...and then hold them accountable.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Jeff M
  • 03-12-17

Astonishing brilliance

Would you consider the audio edition of Basic Economics, Fifth Edition to be better than the print version?

I haven't ready the print version. But this translates well into audio; there are no charts or graphs in this economic tome. It's simple logic, presented clearly.

What did you like best about this story?

It's hard to argue with this guy. I have to be careful and not simply accept what he says at face value. Surely there are counter points! But how can you argue with history? That's his brilliance. History repeats itself, and Sowell uses history to demonstrate fallacy. Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it

What about Tom Weiner’s performance did you like?

He has a clear voice. I would imagine reading an economics book is difficult. He does a fine job

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

When I listen to the brilliant words of Thomas Sowell I feel my mind opening up to truth. Thank you, Thomas Sowell.

Any additional comments?

This should be required reading to anyone who votes. I admit I wish I knew someone who could present counter points to this; surely there must be a counter to his obvious brilliant analysis of the fallacy of anything other than free, open markets. He makes everything seem so self evident!

6 people found this helpful

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  • B. Davis
  • 17-03-15

Great Publication

This is one of the best audio books I've purchased so far. I believe it should be required reading and that the principles should be taught early in the educational system. There is a lot of information that explains a lot of economic problems - poverty and unemployment, for example - that could be eliminated through policy adjustments or eliminations. The concepts are so clearly conveyed, in fact, that it's difficult to fathom how or why any great society would implement contradictory regulations.

The narrator spoke at a pace and pitch that facilitated ease of reception of the material (this is subjective, I suppose).

36 people found this helpful

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  • d
  • 29-09-17

Economics does not need to be esoteric.

This properly named book explains complicated economic concepts in simple language that anyone can understand. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the fundamental forces at work in economics and to a certain degree, society as a whole.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-12-19

This book is as biased as it gets.

There are so many logical fallacies in this book I had to give up. This is the least objective spin to reach a predetermined goal of any book on economics I've read. Avoid.

4 people found this helpful

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  • DWR
  • 10-02-15

Excellent Book on Basic Economics

Not really a "story" but it does tell the history and continuing effect of economics on our lives.

Thomas Sowell presents Economics in a very easy to understand and well illustrated way. This is the 5th edition so is up to date with current examples. There is a lot of information and a plethora of quotable quotes, so probably warrants additional listens to absorb it all.

Tom Weiner is perfect for this type of a book as he reads as one would expect an "expert" in this field might read.

A great book that I will definitely listen to again.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Awesomeness80
  • 08-10-18

Not the book I thought it would be

This Book seems to be more of a comparison between capitalism and other economic systems. I get it, I agree capitalism is a great system. I don’t need something that is borderline propaganda for it. I wanted something that would help me better understand micro/macro economics better. Not how I could have more mental ammo against a communist in an argument. I think the results speak for themselves in that case. This book was not for me.

32 people found this helpful

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  • Francisco
  • 28-07-17

I promise you, this book will change your life.

I highly or more than highly recommend this book to anyone regardless if you are studying economic or not. The explanation are so common sense and clear you will be enlightened. I am really grateful to have taken the time to listen to it and really want to say thank you to all the people behind it and the author. You have succeed beyond your goals. I will re-listen to it couple times until it becomes a song in my head. So grateful.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Niall R
  • 01-09-19

Sowell being his excellent self again

Another exceptional book by one of the most interesting and insightful authors I've ever read.

3 people found this helpful

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  • RSK
  • 06-04-19

Informative perspective

Well reasoned and argued right of centre perspective, a little dated at times. Overall a good read though, but could be more balanced.

3 people found this helpful

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  • astromads
  • 03-06-17

Fantastic

I could have listened to more of this, I never thought economics could be so interesting.
Absolutely loved it.

I would recommend everyone to read this book, gives you a better understanding of how things are not what they seem, would help pick your electoral parties as well.

The man that read this, his voice was perfect to listen to.I could probably listen to his voice from any audio book.

Gave this rating as I could not fault anything about this book.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Spitfires
  • 06-11-19

Boring title, boring cover, amazing content!

Along with Bill Bryson's "A Short History Of Nearly Everything", Sowell's "Basic Economics" should be available to every school child in the land. It clearly explains how the people of the world interact, and why sometimes it doesn't work (spoiler - politicians). You'll learn new knowledge throughout this book. You may change your mind on some things, or have light bulb moments as to why you feel the way you do on other subjects. This is a life changer.

2 people found this helpful

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  • CMCGROG
  • 20-12-18

Very interesting if you are a nerd like me

Good for all interested in the economy, easy to understand even at 1.5x speed. Recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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  • F Gibb
  • 15-12-18

Opinion Piece masquerading as Textbook

This is a well presented, but completely one sided economic viewpoint. It works hard to dismiss all government interventions and, instead advocates a somewhat cold hearted conservative economic policy as the only way to proceed.

That would be fine if the book was presented as an argument for hands-off economics. But it's not. It is presented as a textbook introduction to the field. As such it should present a balanced viewpoint- which sadly it fails to do.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Antonio Ferreira
  • 01-11-18

B and B book: Boring and Brainwashing

This book is a particularly boring attempt to brainwash the reader into believing that:

1. Free markets are capable of optimising all sorts of economic relations among people and companies. Any attempt to interfere with the laws of free markets can only result in terrible consequences for society.

2. Economy is a science comparable to physics or chemistry. It is precise, infallible, and deterministic in its infinite wisdom. Economists are therefore in possession of sacred knowledge, while politicians in their infinite stupidity insist on interfering with free markets, therefore spreading mayhem.

We all know that there is a certain class of economists that believe in these principles in the same way that fundamentalists believe in certain religious principles. It is because of them that economics has gained a reputation of being an unethical, ridiculously self-aggrandising, and thick-headed discipline. What is particularly irritating about this book is that it uses unbelievably redundant and circular argumentation. For example, if I argue that:

John is driving a car. He knows how to drive very well, and so he drives very fast. He has an accident when Peter is in the car, who has been admonishing against excessive speed. Obviously Peter is responsible for the accident because I already told you that John is a good driver.

Everyone with minimum intelligence could counter-argue that John might have been and probably was the one responsible for the accident! An intelligent person would want anyway to know more about the circumstances of the accident, which are not provided in a sufficient detailed way so that conclusions can be considered supported by evidence. However, this kind of argumentation is used all over the book, essentially to make us believe that free markets (the Johns) are very good for society and therefore when things go wrong is certainly because of the Peters (the politicians trying to regulate markets).

All this is unbearably superficial and poorly analysed, as these arguments omit everything that could be used to refute them.

On top of everything, the reader uses a preaching tone of voice, it feels like one is learning about economics from a drill sergeant.

A much more interesting reading for those wanting to understand economic science beyond this dogmatic approach is provided by the references below.

Jackson, T. (2009). Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet London: Earthscan. (not yet available in Audible)

Raworth, K. (2017). Doughnut economics: Seven ways to think like a 21st-century economist. London: Random House Business Books. (already available in Audible)

56 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
  • derek john marsdon
  • 26-11-18

Basic Economics or A Neoliberal Handbook?

If you are looking for an explanation of how the economy works, this is NOT the book for you. It is more of a propaganda sheet for neoliberalism. Rather than go into the mechanics of how a modern economy works, Sowell relies on examples of how and where government intervention has failed in order to justify his neoliberal convictions. He never attempts to explain the failings or short comings of laissez fair economics, like it's natural tendency towards monopolisation, which undermines its own justification (the free market), or the ecological cost to the planet. There are some interesting and useful definitions just over half way through the book, differentiating stocks, shares and bonds for example, and a very brief history of economics right at the end, which I shall use for further reading, but it does not explain how economics works. I have read Adam Smith and a little of Marx, both of which do attempt to explain with great success the workings of capitalist economics. I wanted a more up to date explanation, but this book failed totally in that task.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Popescu Denis
  • 24-12-19

The Ideal Audiobook

Before talking about the contents I want to say that I liked the voice of the narrator, he is clear, precise and consistent.

The contents of the book are truly best suited for the audio format, the book was written in such a way that is easy enough to listen to while you do some other task that does not require a lot of brainpower, but challenging enough to be interesting.

It changed the way I think about society.

1 person found this helpful

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  • David Pellowe
  • 03-08-17

Best economics text ever!

Really long, but really easy to listen to & understand. And wait to buy the paper version as well.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-03-20

Exceptional!

Highly recommended if you are prepared to stick with it; you'll gain excellent insights into economics.

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  • Alicia
  • 02-03-20

Must read

This is the most eye opening book and something I believe every citizen should read. Written in plain English and with interesting and relatable examples, Basic Economics contains just the right amount of new material and repetition to embed the principles of economics.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Austin L.
  • 29-05-20

amazing

Gave me a great insight into how economies function. The ideas presented are truly eye opening.

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  • Lucio Trohovski
  • 04-11-19

Great

Very well narrated, content is set out in a way that makes the concept easier to understand and it is clear with plenty of great examples

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-12-18

Insightful

Sowell does a fantastic job in distilling economic concepts in a way that everyone can understand. He beautifully demonstrates how easily people fall into the fallacies of simplistic thinking. This is a book that should be read by all.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 10-07-18

Everyone should listen to this book

Both the author and the reader make the understanding of this subject easy/interesting. A must.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nipun S.
  • 26-05-18

Great book to grad the fundamentals of economics

A must read if you are looking to understand the fundamentals of economics. The content is delivered in an easy to understand format with plenty of real world examples and facts. Though it is a long book there is never a dull moment because of the rich content that is delivered and the methodical order in which it is done - it is an easy listen.

This book is guaranteed to change the way you think and will help you foresee the long term economic implication of political decisions and actions of today. It opens up a whole new mindset that helps you think in the long term and understand how everything in interrelated. It also helps you understand fallacies and why some economies in the world thrive while others have failed.

This book will defensively expand the horizons of your thinking and help you see the big picture; and by the end of the book you'll find yourself looking at things in a much broader and practical perspective.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Spencer
  • 03-06-16

A very one sided debate

Starts off strong with economic fundamentals laid out clearly, however spends majority of later chapters presenting a very one sided view of all the negative effects of government regulation. The points presented are valid, however it constantly presents and rebut frail token counter arguments to a point that quickly stopped trusting the writer is presenting a balanced view.

I also found the narrator difficult to take seriously.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Athur E. Nonimus
  • 06-06-18

Basic American Economics

No doubt the author is knowledgeable in his subject and no doubt that he believes he is presenting an solid argument. However, in the end, the author presents a biased argument for why american free-market economics is the panacea for what ails you. For a work titled 'Basic Economics' I expected more analysis of different types of economies, how they function, where they succeed and where they fail. Instead we get 23hrs of "US Free markets are the best thing since sliced bread".

4 people found this helpful