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The Mercatus Summer Reading List 2012

Mercatus Center scholars' favorite summertime reads.

The Mercatus Summer Reading List 2012

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Check out the whole list on our site!

“One of the most important (and well-timed) economics books of the year.”—Matthew Mitchell

“I know you have book fatigue, popular economics book fatigue, policy book fatigue, and books-with-subtitles-like-this fatigue, all at once. But this book is really, really good. It hits all the right notes, is clearly written, and refers to academics as ‘the new crony capitalists.’ I agreed with almost all of it. If I had to pick out one book, of this entire lot of books, to explain what is going on right now to a popular audience of non-economists, this might well be it.”—Tyler Cowen

“Waring lays out a theoretically solid framework for valuing pensions on an economic basis, ‘de-cluttering’ the present model from all of the actuarial and accounting assumptions that have served to suppress the true value of these plans and inform decades of bad decisions. This is a book for those with some knowledge of pensions, but it is written in an accessible style.”—Eileen Norcross

“Budget deficits and accumulating debts that plague modern democracies reflect a clash between two rationalities of governance: one based on private property and the other based on common property. The tragedy of the commons that results can be attenuated by a restoration of a constitution of liberty. This book is a theoretical treatment of a timely subject rooted in public choice theory.”—Eileen Norcross

“I read this book about three years ago as one of the judges for the Atlas annual book competition. It tells the story of free-market-based education in the poorest of the slums and ghettos of the world and how in these incredibly impoverished places families make extraordinary sacrifices to educate their children and how the results of these impoverished for-profit schools exceed the achievements of their state controlled counterparts.”—Maurice McTigue

“This is one of the very best philosophical treatments of libertarian thought, ever.”—Tyler Cowen

“This book is a must-read for anyone interested in effectively fighting the expansion of government. David Stockman gives the account of his years in the Reagan administration and tells us the sad story about why the Reagan revolution failed and the government continued to grow. There are few good guys in the book and plenty of villains. But while it is discouraging at times, it provides a very good insight into the world of politics.”—Veronique de Rugy

“Why more and more countries will turn things around, even as China fails.”—Tyler Cowen

“This is one of my favorite books of the last several years. What is the key to human prosperity? Others have recently tried to answer this (e.g., Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel). But Ridley’s book may be the most convincing. And it is probably the most important for what we do at Mercatus.”—Matthew Mitchell

“The traditional approach to increasing national competitiveness has been to increase innovation and government investments in research and development, workforce development, and public infrastructure. Given today’s fiscal realities, the nation must explore alternative policy approaches and ways for government to do its business.”—Jason Fichtner

“Unless the U.S. economy recovers more quickly, the country could be mired in debt for years to come and millions of Americans will be pushed to the sidelines of the economy. This book offers clear ideas on ways to revive America’s economy by removing government constraints and encouraging saving, investment, and job creation...It includes chapters by five Nobel Laureates in economics: Robert Lucas, Gary Becker, Edward Prescott, Vernon Smith, and Myron Scholes.”—Jason Fichtner

“A political science classic, Lowi proposes that classic liberalism and capitalism have been replaced by interest group liberalism and explores the flaws and consequences of this development.”—Keith Hall

“This book is a great account of how special interest politics came to dominate in America. A must read for anyone interested in cronyism.”—Veronique de Rugy

“This book answers the same question that Matt Ridley’s book does. But it focuses more on recent economic history. This helps illustrate the role that institutions play in shaping economic outcomes. Very well written.”—Matt Mitchell

“A passionate case for why trial and error in tackling issues such as climate change, poverty, and financial crises is better than top-down solutions.”—Jerry Brito

“This book shows how federalism’s transformation was a response to state’s demands, not an imposition on them. It explains why the current fiscal crisis will soon compel a fundamental renegotiation of a new federalism grounded in constitutional principles.”—Eileen Norcross

“This book is about the relationship between urbanization and economic growth. It’s also about the many different types of regulations that make it more expensive to live in cities and limit opportunity as a result.”—Emily Washington

“The book is a very interesting comparison of two new countries, New Zealand and America, and how the two concepts of fairness and freedom developed to form part of the culture and the national values system. Yet, today, they mean quite different things in these two countries that came from similar beginnings.”—Maurice McTigue

“I am a huge fan of this book. It is an underappreciated masterpiece and a quick, inspiring read.”—Adam Thierer

“Peru is becoming a leader in philosophical crime stories with terrorist twists.”—Tyler Cowen

“This book by the former managing director of Bain Capital is a good, easy-language look at the recent economic history of the United States, broken into three segments: what went right, what went wrong, and what comes next.”—Maurice McTigue

“This very short book is one of my favorites by Buchanan. It’s a book about opportunity cost—a concept almost always forgotten by politicians eager to push through reforms they like.”—Veronique de Rugy

“This book won the 2012 Atlas Fisher Award for book of the year. Incidentally, it was also my choice for first place. This is a slightly tougher read but worth the effort, since it puts good evidence in place that supports the role of capitalism in the development of economies and the creation of national wealth.”—Maurice McTigue

“This book is the intellectual father of the Affordable Care Act constitutional challenge before it was cool. It lays out the case for original-meaning constitutionalism and makes a compelling case for the Ninth Amendment, taking some conservative constitutional scholars such as Bork and Scalia to task for ignoring it....It is the perfect retort to those who say the constitution is a living, breathing document.”—Matthew Mitchell