The best book I read in 2004 was Charles Wheelan’s Naked Economics. Who knew that micro- and macro-economics could make such riveting reading?

Some interesting tidbits I learned from the book:

  • Economics is not a zero-sum game: the GDP of a small African nation could increase by ten times without affecting the GDP of any other nation. And as a result, the citizens of that nation would be better off in an absolute sense.
  • How Mexico City legislation to restrict who could drive on a given day based on their license plate numbers actually led to a doubling in the city’s air pollution.
  • How asymmetry of information should, over time, cause health insurance rates to increase without bound, and how insurance companies use strategies like deductables to remedy the situation.
  • Why the WTO protesters in Seattle might well have been throwing eggs at doctors in a local hospital.
  • Why sweatshops are good for America and for Indonesia.
  • Why the color of Alan Greenspan’s tie really does matter.

Naked Economics corrected many misunderstandings I had about open markets, fiscal policy, insurance costs, and free trade. I’m no fan of the current administration, but seen through the lens of Wheelan’s book, many of the left-leaning protests I’m aware of seem utterly foolish. I wish that my liberal comrades would take good economic sense to heart.