Keith Douglas' Web Page

About me Find out who I am and what I do.
My resumé A copy of my resumé and other documentation about my education and work experience for employers and the curious.
Reviews, theses, articles, presentations A collection of papers from my work, categorized and annotated.
Current research projects What I am currently working on, including some non-research material.
Interesting people People professionally "connected" to me in some way.
Interesting organizations Organizations I am "connected" to. (Some rather loosely.)
Intellectual/professional influences Influences on my work, including an organization chart. Here you can also buy many good books on philosophy and other subjects via amazon.com. I have included brief reviews of hundreds of books.
Professional resources Research sources, amazon.com associates programs, etc.
What is the philosophy of computing? A brief introduction to my primary professional interest.
My intellectual heroes A partial list of important people. Limited to the dead.
My educational philosophy As a sometime teacher I've developed one. Includes book resources.

Book Influences - Economics

Title
Author
Purchase / Enjoy Cover
Comment
Fundamental Economics Fuller One of two economics text books I own, though I have studied from others. Very dry.
How to Measure the Fiscal Deficit Blejer and Cheasty (eds.) Sixteen papers are in this IMF published volume on the subject indicated by the title. Some are full of equations; others are full of charts; still others are more narrative in character with no obvious pattern as to what sort of answers are written in which sort of style. As usual many simplifications are made (market equilibrium, most notoriously); however this and other assumptions are often, but not always, pointed out. The most important paper as far as I am concerned is that by Ali Mansoor on how privatization is not even always economically optimal. (Nevermind morally, etc.)
La coopération: de la réalité à la théorie économique I - Le monde vivant de la coopération Angers This small introduction to the economics of cooperation and cooperatives is almost two books in one. One is a general analysis of cooperatives and (economic) cooperation and how they function in various places (as of 1974). A second, less useful, is an analysis and policy / goal section about Quebec specifically. Regional control has merit, but the author strays too far politically. That said, the author is aware that economic issues are affected by political and cultural factors (e.g. religion) which is all to the good.
La Coopération: de la réalité à la théorie économique II - l'activité coopérative en théorie économique Angers The sequel to the above volume attempts to recast tradition economic theory, including principles of political economy, so that they fit in with a cooperativist economic regime. Unfortunately, his criticism of both capitalism and most forms of socialism does not extend to the pseudoquanities (or, at least, pseudofunctions) ubquitous in economic analysis.
Microeconomics James A pretty ordinary, though Canadian-focused microeconomics textbook. Clear, but, as expected, uncritical of some usual economic hypotheses (e.g. the Laffer curve). There are also a few errors of usually minor significance, in the glossary. Has many worked problems which might prove useful to some students. I understand it is part of a pair; I did not see the companion volume where I bought this one used. The amazon.com link is presumably to a later edition as mine was printed in 1991, not 2000.
The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered Soros The billionaire fund manager George Soros explains why unrestricted capitalism is just as dangerous to human life as other authoritarian systems (e.g. fascism and communism). He calls for restrictions on capital flow and a recognition that markets should not be the only means to adjudicate social matters.
The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money Keynes A revolutionary book, or so the record of history tells us. Breaks firmly with the so called classical schools, and spells out some of the famous macroeconomic consequences of the relations discovered by Keynes. This semi-critical edition includes a brief introduction by Krugman, which remarks on a few mistakes and oversights. In my view, the biggest mistake (so to speak) in the work is the failure to discuss details of the functional relationships described. Their interrelationships are mentioned but the precise form of something asserted to be y=f(x) is not often mentioned explicitly. Note: Keynes also is attempting to save capitalism from itself. Draw one's own conclusion from this.
The Marx-Engels Reader (2e) Tucker (ed.) A collection of (in some cases partial) writings by the founders of one branch of communist thought. It is important to realize that at least during the 19th century (superficially?) similar ideas were available from a variety of sources. Marx (and Engels) is at his best when describing the horrific conditions he wants changed, but substantially more vague and dangerous when proposing substantial changes to replace the conditions. Exercise to the reader: what conditions have changed and where and why. Note: Is slightly redundant with the volume on this page.
The Theory of Economic Development Schumpeter (translated by Opie) A slim volume, which attempts to explain the circulation and flow of a capitalist economy. References the startling result that in a free market profits are asymptotically zero. Chomsky seems to make an argument somewhere that free markets are self-contradictorially described, and the result just mentioned seems to offer a less drastic, but still fatal reductio. This suggests the thesis that those who defend free markets really mean "free from the influence I don't like". Note: I have not linked to the precise edition I have, but what appears a very close approximation.
The Wealth of Nations Smith This book changed the world, and it is easy to see why. Arguably it is the first macroeconomics book in the contemporary sense, and covers many of the topics typical to this day: public policies, taxes, trade, descriptions of economic systems, etc. It is interesting to also note that it begins the conflation of normative and descriptive/explanatory economics. This Bantam edition also includes many explantory footnotes, an introduction and a note on the text.
Value and Capital: An Inquiry into Some Fundamental Principles of Economic Theory (2e) Hicks True to the subtitle, many fundamental principles are examined. However, many are not, and I would have liked to see this explained. Admittedly one has to start somewhere, but it is curious why this starting point rather than that. The author is clear, to the extent that one can be when translating the language of partial derivatives and such into ordinary English. Some familiarity with graphs and such matters is still necessary. However, what was most interesting to me is realizing that "market", "interest" and such seem to be meant stipulatively, so that when people attempt to create, preserve etc. things called that "in the real world", they are actually acting backwards. Interest cannot be "imposed", according to the scheme presented, it just arises. That this sounds weird is just how much we have to go to get realistic theories in economics. (I have since also read second hand that Hicks did not consider economics to be a science nor really allow for the possibility it could be, either. If true, this explains some of the stranger parts of the aforementioned detail.)

 

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