Principles of Economics
Copyright Year: 2016
ISBN 13: 9781946135162
Publisher: University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing
Conditions of Use
This book covers everything I do in Principles, plus some things I would like to include if I had time. read more
This book covers everything I do in Principles, plus some things I would like to include if I had time.
Standard economics. Does a good job with the GDP measurement problems.
Includes specific examples from the news. Examples are a couple years old. Most won't go out of date, but for a few you notice their age.
I particularly like the "Heads Up" section, which accurately points out the most common mistakes that undergraduates make.
AS/AD is introduced early in the macroeconomic section and is used in later chapters.
Arranged usefully into relatively short chapters. Inevitably, some chapters assume that you learned the previous material (S&D, or AS/AD).
The typical organization. Micro and then macro.
Some of the equations did not show up in the program I was using to read it. In chapter 5 the sections are in the wrong order.
Most examples are from the US, but there are some examples from elsewhere in the world.
I found this book to follow quite closely the way I like to teach principles.
The scope of the book is impressive, it even includes a chapter on the recent history of macroeconomic thought, with a great discussion of the macroeconomic policy during Great Depression, and since, doing a good job integrating the tools... read more
The scope of the book is impressive, it even includes a chapter on the recent history of macroeconomic thought, with a great discussion of the macroeconomic policy during Great Depression, and since, doing a good job integrating the tools developed in earlier chapters. I don't recall seeing anything close to this in other intro to economics textbooks that I have seen. Individual topics are developed in sufficient depth, for instance the discussion of marginal benefit and marginal cost in chapter 6 is more detailed than in most of the other textbooks that I have seen. While the scope of the coverage is great, I couldn't find an index or a glossary of terms. Important terms are highlighted in the text, but I couldn't find a list of definitions to these.
The textbook seems to be accurate, without errors, and I think the author does a good job providing a balanced view, at least judging by the standards set by other principles of economics textbooks. The inclusion of topics is very standard and the discussion seems objective. I would personally like to see inclusion of the Austrian View of the Business Cycle, and of a more critical perspective on inflation, debt, and the role of government in general.
The lack of recent updates is in my opinion the main weakness of the textbook. In most chapters it doesn't matter much, but for the discussion of monetary and fiscal policy it is important to point out that the discussion in the textbook ends with the immediate aftermath of the 2008 recession, thus is missing the more recent changes in the Fed's policy and recent developments. The book lacks a discussion of negative interest rates, Fed's growing balance sheet, and the recent increases in government debt and budget deficits. This seems not to have been updated since 2010.
For an economics textbook, the writing is easy to understand, which makes it accessible to a wide range of students, but may not be an ideal choice for a more advanced student who may prefer a more demanding text. I found many of the examples interesting and engaging, for instance the example of smokers being on net a positive externality in chapter 11, or the example of hockey teams maximizing profits in chapter 10.
The book is consistent throughout.
Each chapter is organized in a few sections, each with its own learning objectives, examples, and a few questions to be answered. It seems easy to either pick a section from a chapter, or skip a section, without losing continuity. It seems effort was put into chapters being able to stand alone on their own, for instance there is a separate chapter (23) on economic growth, investment (29), and interest rate - loanable funds market (13).
As mentioned under Modularity, the book does a good job including many stand-alone chapters, but this creates a problem in organization. For instance it is difficult to make the connection among interest rates, investment, saving, consumption, and economic growth, as the coverage is spread across chapters 13, 23, and 29. There is a small sub-section (a little over a page) in section 29.1 explaining the relationships, but overall I had difficulties finding the main points among the detailed discussion. I could see students getting a bit lost in the detail presented, and not being able to clearly see the bigger picture.
I found the charts easy to read, and the use of colors is user-friendly. There are clickable links to figures within the text (if read online). The format is pretty easy to follow.
No grammatical errors encountered.
The pictures in the text feature people of various races, and examples feature a variety of countries from different continents.
This is a great textbook, likely to please anyone looking for a standard introductory economics text done well and freely available. The only significant downside is that it hasn't been updated since about 2010, which I find problematic for the monetary and fiscal policy discussions.
This book includes all the usual principles topics, and then some. Want to talk about the effect of third-party payers in health care markets? Farm policy? Economies in transition? There's a chapter for each of these topics. Throughout, there... read more
This book includes all the usual principles topics, and then some. Want to talk about the effect of third-party payers in health care markets? Farm policy? Economies in transition? There's a chapter for each of these topics. Throughout, there are references to important historical events, which I appreciate. The Great Depression, for example, is mentioned several times. Some depth is sacrificed, through, to hit on all of these topics. I did not see a glossary, which is a glaring omission for an introductory textbook. In-text problems, with solutions, and end-of-chapter problems are included.
I did not notice any inaccuracies. Perhaps this is more of an interface issue, but I did notice a problem with the formula for elasticity. At least in the online version I was reading from, equation 5.1 "did not parse." This could be a big issue for students trying to understand the elasticity chapter. However, students would also probably be better than I am at finding a format that works
This text does a nice job of including a lot of environmental examples, which I think students usually find interesting and relevant. Chapter 1, for example, refers to oil extraction and water use, as well as careers and salaries in economics (another topic that should be of interest). Most case-in-point articles are at least 10 years old, though. I would like to see these updated.
In addition to the lack of depth, I find the writing style a little choppy. Reading this text is a little like reading a small-town newspaper. I frequently wanted more investigative reporting instead of just-the-facts. I am currently using the Krugman and Wells text (for Micro Principles), largely because it reads in many parts like a story.
I did not find many spots where I felt students would be confused, other than one spot in chapter 1, where a good is defined as "scarce" if it has alternative uses, such as air which we can either breathe or pollute. In other words, a good is scarce if it is limited. In contrast, a free good is not limited, like gravity. I find these examples (air and gravity, illustrating opposites) a little confusing particularly for chapter 1. If I were the author, I would avoid mention of free goods to emphasize that virtually everything is scarce. This is a minor issue, but I hate to see any issues so early in the book that might discourage later reading. In contrast, the section in this chapter on careers in economics is clear and engaging.
I did not notice any issues with consistency in the text.
This is a strength of the book. There are many chapters, instructors can pick and choose and rearrange as they see fit.
Generally speaking, the text follows the usual order, micro then macro. Personally, I would have rearranged the chapters a little. For example, I would probably use chapter 6 (consumer surplus, and deadweight loss) before chapter 4 (applications of supply and demand) so we can analyze deadweight loss from price controls. Also, the Keynesian Cross from chapter 28 goes before Aggregate Demand and Supply (chapter 22). But you can always cover in any order you want.
The flow suffers a little from the choppy writing style and lack of depth I mentioned under Clarity. Perhaps students appreciate this more than I do, however.
This is a real strength of the text. New terms are highlighted in blue. The graphs and charts are colorful and easy-to-read. I only found a few issues from the online version that I read from. First the elasticity formula didn't come through, and one of the TryIt! problems in chapter 2 appears to be missing part of the table. There is reference to the production possibilities for Plant R and Plant S, and I only see a table for Plant R.
I did not notice any grammatical errors.
I think the text does a good job of including some international examples, as well as frequent reference to environmental issues that some texts ignore.
I like that instructors can easily pick and choose chapters, and the graphs and charts are colorful and engaging. Each chapter has TryIt! problems with answers, as well as end-of-chapter problems (both conceptual problems and numerical problems). The case-in-point articles are relevant but a bit dated. Will they be updated? Also, I just find it strange that the authors are "unnamed" or "anonymous." Is this common with OER textbooks? I just feel obligated to give credit where credit is due--I'm not sure I can put anonymous on my syllabus.
Comprehensive in overall coverage; yet many on the sections leave out important discussions. For example, the table of contents covers everything that would be discussed in a two semester principles course -- micro & macro separately. However,... read more
Comprehensive in overall coverage; yet many on the sections leave out important discussions. For example, the table of contents covers everything that would be discussed in a two semester principles course -- micro & macro separately. However, the discussions are insufficient, sometimes to the extent of misleading the reader. For example, discussion of the long-run average cost curve shows an area on economies OF scale (associated with multiple sizes of plot) flowed my a range of constant returns TO scale (TO which scale? Still talking about several scales), then an range of economies OF scale. Confusion is (1) reader never told that economies and discommodes BOTH exist over the entire range. Downward sloping and upward sloping reflect the NET economies. Beginning students wonder if the economies disappear, or if diseconomies only appear with very large sizes. It would be helpful to distinguish between technological and pecuniary, and between internal and external. Finally. Mixing discussion of returns OF and TO scale confuses with short-run diminishing returns TO scale with economies and diseconomies OF different scale alternatives.
There are some problems in accuracy owing to attempts to simplify or "dumb down" for beginning students. This is the problem of principles texts generally, and the inaccuracies here are on a par with those in other published works. See above discussion on comprehensiveness. Also, no distinction between simple inventory / style fluctuations and surplus and shortage problems. Explanations do not adequately distinguish between WILLINGNESS to buy and sell and quantities bought and sold.
Text is on par with most text in the field. Not likely to become obsolete. NB: I am no one who insists on most recent data or topical issues -- articles can easily supplement in this area. Theory and logic evolve over time. Updates should be relatively easy to implement. Most importantly in this area, organization and structure of presentation is classical and consistent with how I and many others structure a course.
Jargon is not a problem and text is not overly technical. As stated earlier, lucidity problems stem from inadequate discussion in attempt to simplify. Similar to published texts in this area.
Consistency is somewhat problematic, as discussed above, for example switching back and forth between quantity (actually) supplied/demanded and willingness to supply/demand such quantities; also economies OF scale and returns TO scale are used interchangeably
Modularity is good; similar to other published principles texts.
Organization/structure/flow is easy to work with.
No problems with interface. Electronic version (e.g., .PDF) takes advance of hyperlinks to reference charts and other sections.
No grammatical errors noted.
Did not review with an eye to cultural relevance or political correctness. Nothing stood out as being problematic.
I will seriously consider the text. It is on par with commercially published principles texts -- none of which I have been completely happy with. One potentially negative factor is the lack of an electronic homework capability. Need to confer with students about how useful this is to their learning (as opposed to my teaching); and perhaps experiment with using the electronic homework / quizzes/tests developed for a different text with this one.
The text's coverage is comprehensive. The writing approach is a very good one; that is, giving the reader a heads-up in concept coverages, real world applications of concepts and giving the reader an opportunity to apply learned concepts into... read more
The text's coverage is comprehensive. The writing approach is a very good one; that is, giving the reader a heads-up in concept coverages, real world applications of concepts and giving the reader an opportunity to apply learned concepts into real world applications (Learning By Doing).
The chapter flows is very good. I am suggesting that Chapter 11: The World of Imperfect Competition should be spelled-out clearly: Monopolistic Competition and Oligopoly.
Chapter 16: Anti-trust Policy and Business Regulation should be brought forward and should read: Anti-trust Policy and Regulation - It is an Economics Text and not a Business Text. The normal flow in the Microeconomic Section is that once the Market Structure chapters are covered, the chapter on Anti-trust Policy and Regulation should follow.
On the Macroeconomics side, the flow between chapters 20 - 23 is a good one but I would suggest a re-arranging of the chapters so that Fiscal Policy Issues are addressed before the Monetary Policy Chapters. Therefore, the proposed re-arranging should be as follows:
1. Chapters 20 - 23
2. Chapter 31
3. Chapters 28, 29 and 27
4. Chapters 24,25, 26 and remaining chapters can then follow.
It is OKAY for an introductory text. The relevant concepts coverage are in place.
It is a GOOD text and considering the high cost of textbooks, I will strongly consider using it in my Principles of Economics courses. Thank you to whomever envisioned such a worthwhile venture!
It is very clear and concise. It will be easily readable and understood by students.
The text is relevant, good coverage of concepts and will be easily understood by students.
It is easily readable but I have also made some suggestions in re-arranging the flow of chapters.
See suggestions above.
For a text made available to Community of Learners, without any cost, it achieves the purpose like other high-priced textbooks. All I can say is THANK YOU!
It is in line with other high-priced texts. Being first edition, the second edition will be better.
It is a balanced text. Instead of extolling the vices, I commend the writer(s) for a splendid job and should continue the GOODWORK!
I very much like the text and will consider it highly for adoption in my Principles of Economics Courses. One of the problems I encounter with my students is that majority of them do not buy the prescribed textbook and this will be a great solution to this problem - THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
This textbook is very comprehensiveness. It covers almost all the major topics in mainstream micro and macroeconomic studies. The examples and data used are very current and up-to-date. read more
This textbook is very comprehensiveness. It covers almost all the major topics in mainstream micro and macroeconomic studies. The examples and data used are very current and up-to-date.
The book is accurate in terminology, concept, model, graphing, and wording.
The authors are using "big" and on-going economic issues in the illustration, explanation, and case in point. This makes the study of the concept very relevant to real world experience. Since those are important on-going economic issues in our economy, the longevity of the content will last and is easy to update with relevant information and data.
Terminologies are defined in easy understandable language/wording. Concepts are explained with examples and illustrations. Graphs are using grid-lines and arrows to show the effect of it and are easy to follow and understand.
Overall, the book is very clear and precise.
All chapters are using the same format. Terminologies, concepts, and graphs are consistently applied and moved on from one chapter to another chapter.
1. I found that the display in HTML version is a bit different from the PDF file. HTML has more space between paragraphs and sections whilst PDF file does not have space. The HTML format is better and easy to read.
2. Inside each chapter, it has the section numbers which are missing in the Table of Contents. For example, in chapter 1, "Defining Economics" is section 1.1. It would be better to put back the section number 1.1 in the Table of Content as well.
Other than the above, the text in each chapter has good sections and sub-units.
The topics in the text are presented in a logical and clear fashion. The organization/structure/flow are consistent and coherent.
All chapters are organized in the same format by using colored text box, heading and sub-heading, highlighted text, and bullet point. Easy to read and follow.
1. As I have mentioned in 6 above, the PDF file does not space out appropriately and makes it hard to navigate through the text and go back to find text.
2. The Table of Contents should include section number for each chapter.
3. The Table of Contents should be divided into Microeconomics and Macroeconomics.
4. There is no glossary and index list at the end of the book.
I can't any grammatical error.
The authors are cultural sensitive and relevance. They are using lots of different quotes to back up their points without prejudice or bias. Different countries' cultural and economic issues are discussed and included in its content.
More Try It Problems would be better. For example, provide more Try It calculation on Elasticities, Costs of Production, etc., and provide answers and explanations.
I wonder if the book comes with test bank and quiz/exam paper generation tool for the instructor? That would be great!
Being a product of the Pleistocene epoch, I sometimes don't trust my online navigation skills. That said, after repeated attempts, I was unable to locate a glossary or index for this otherwise fine text. Assuming they don't exist, their absence... read more
Being a product of the Pleistocene epoch, I sometimes don't trust my online navigation skills. That said, after repeated attempts, I was unable to locate a glossary or index for this otherwise fine text. Assuming they don't exist, their absence is certainly not a deal-breaker. In my long and labored experience, nearly all college principles of economics texts really are pretty much interchangeable in terms of providing basic content. They are obligated to cover these basics if they intend to be even moderately useful. This text provides solid, competent, confident coverage of all the rudiments in a clear, useful, and even fun manner: Scarcity, Choice, Supply and Demand, Elasticity, Costs of Production, Market Structures, Aggregate Supply & Demand, Money & Banking, Blah, Blah, Blah. You get the idea. The chapter on Socialist Economies in Transition was an interesting and welcome addition to the usual list of topics. Another absolutely wonderful thing the text did was to address the students with respect. Specifically, the authors recognized and acknowledged that the vast majority of students in college are there to gain knowledge and/or a degree that will help them provide for themselves and their families (present or future). Few texts in any discipline make even vague reference to what should be an obvious reality of their end customers' worlds. Most college texts authors ignore such tawdry issues out of a misplaced concern for sullying the purity of their disciplines with such pedestrian and base concerns. Also, I suspect, many of them are annoyed by the realization that what they teach (or how they teach) is of little practical value. Whoa! Where-the-heck did all THAT come from?!? Apparently someone's little "soapbox" button got pushed. Meanwhile, back to the topic at hand: Libby Rittenberg & Timothy Tregarthen are rare and refreshing exceptions to the norm. They go on at length about Careers in Economics, Application of Economics to Other Fields, LSAT Scores and Undergraduate Majors (Economics majors rank quite well), and Starting Salaries of Economists vs other Professionals (again, not-so-bad). If they had been in the room as I read these sections, I would have kissed them squarely on the lips.
Okay, I'll try to curb myself a bit and not run on quite so much with this response. As I read through the text (no, I didn't read every page, but I did read quite a bit; samplings from nearly every chapter), I wasn't once struck by an obvious inaccuracy or biased presentation of concepts and material. I haven't always had that impression when reading texts, economics or otherwise. Krugman's springs to mind. These folks did an admirable job of fairly and evenhandedly compelling students to understand far reaching ramifications and consequences of topics such as the unavoidable reality (sometimes unpleasant) of having limited choices, how not "black-and-white" antitrust policies can be in a complex world of international economies, the economics of environmentalism, causes and remedies for income inequality, poverty, and discrimination, and other hot-button issues.
References are made to relatively current topics such as the great recession and its ongoing and potent relevance to the future of the economies of the U.S. and the world in general. Events of this magnitude and scope will certainly remain relevant for some time to come even as they transition from a current event to an important historic lesson (think, "The Great Depression"). Likewise, investigations into the inner goings on of present-day socialist economies will likely be of interest as they continue their unprecedented morphication (?) into Lord knows what. I could be wrong (often am, ask the wife), but the authors of this text leave me with the impression that they will be responsible stewards of their OER text. The phrase, "labor of love" springs to mind. I see ongoing updates in this book's future. I am rating the text as a 4 rather than 5 only because, as economists are painfully aware, the future is a shimmering, unfocused phenomenon.
Let's face it, when preparing for a relaxed evening in front of a warm, crackling fire, hot Belgian cocoa in hand, and trusty canine underfoot, few would pull a love-worn economics text off the carved mahogany bookshelf (I'm painting a picture here) as an appealing choice for the evening's read. It is a sad reality that no viable college economics text (including this one) will ever be described on course evaluations with words such as, "lilting prose" or "Like the vampires in 'Twilight' this economics text made marginal cost curves spring to life; flying off the pages and into my heart..." However, Libby Rittenberg & Timothy Tregarthen truly do do (good thing my 13-year-old boy isn't in the room) a marvelous job of keeping the (captive) reader's interest and attention. From the references to Heraclitis in the preface to the effect of cancelled games on pro-basketball players' earnings in a later chapter, the reading is peppered with references and examples designed to clarify potentially (and actually) complex social, political, economic, and mathematical concepts. They rank, "well above the norm" among econ texts. Once again, I'm choosing a rank of 4 rather than 5. I do this for two reasons: 1) I am a bitter old man who grades way to hard (I've been told), and 2) I'm saving the ultimate-highest-rank of 5 for when they finally make a digital text that plugs directly into the higher learning centers of our students' cortices (directly bi-passing the sizable portions of their brains dedicated to Netflix and pizza).
As I sheepishly admitted somewhere above, I didn't read everysingleword of the text. However of the very many pages I did read, terminology was always consistent. I didn't find one instance where students would have been confused by the same terms being used different ways. The framework of the text was logical and consistent with the majority of economics texts available today, both OER and elsewhere. Just to be clear, that is a good thing. I'm generally unimpressed with authors that strive to distinguish their text by presenting material in an avant-garde or experimental way.
Okay, I can't help myself, is "modularity" really a word?
According to the authors themselves, all the chapters are written using a “modular” format. It appears that most of the chapters are divided into major sections (three in most cases). This helps keep topics from becoming too darn unwieldy. Each section also contains learning objectives, summaries, examples, and problems. Each chapter is introduced with a nice story to motivate the material and each chapter ends with a wrap-up and additional problems. Good stuff! Plenty of useful examples and a good assortment of different types of questions (with answers). I'm seriously considering using this text in my in-class sections and perhaps my online as well. Hence, the modularity issue is an important one to me. I don't have the time or inclination to cover all the chapters of any economics text, including this one. As most of you reading this likely know, this can be a problem with some texts that have chapters so tightly linked that missing out on one or more "episodes" (let alone ten) would leave the students quite befuddled (kind of like, "Downton Abbey"). Reading through this text leaves me with the strong impression that this would not be a problem (more like, "General Hospital"). In the authors' own words, "To ensure students realize that economics is a unified discipline and not a bewildering array of seemingly unrelated topics, we develop the presentation of microeconomics and of macroeconomics around integrating themes."
Boy, this sure sounds an awful lot like #5 and to a lesser extent #6 above which reference "consistency" ,"framework", "easily realigned" and other related concepts.That said, I'll do my best to approach it as a somehow unique and separate query. And even if I am unable to do so, I will almost certainly still manage to write many many words. Why? Because I've been to graduate school!
To aid the "organization/structure/flow" of the text, the authors have organized the material a manner deliberately intended to show students that economics is a cohesive body of thought and not some sort of maddening series of complex and unrelated topics. Economic concepts can be (and regularly are) divided into the two general categories of Macroeconomics and Microeconomics; "Integrating themes" are used for both the Macro and Micro topics. For Macro, the integrating theme is the notion of Aggregate Supply and Aggregate Demand (sexy stuff that). The integrating theme for microeconomics is the "marginal decision rule." This powerful (and fun!) idea is presented quite early in the text and then used throughout the remaining discussions of microeconomics.
A great job was done with the text's interface. All the graphs and charts and tables are clear and uncluttered and generally user-friendly. Understandably, you won't find the dizzying array of expensive multi-colored, 3D, flip-page gadgets that appear in some $307.59 economics texts. That stuff is spendy and lest we forget, the point of OER materials is to bring costs to students down. I can happily accept the simple, straight-forward, understandable format contained herein. Frankly, many of the "fancier" presentations often provide more distraction than edification.
Granted, I didn't have magnifying glass in hand, but in all the material I read I don't recall seeing a single grammatical faux pas.
While I can't absolutely guarantee that there's not a single humanoid on our fair planet that would find any words in this text offensive, I can with some confidence say that if we did find such a person they would likely be more than a little bit wacko. While the authors didn't shy away from potentially controversial but relevant economics related topics, they were without exception respectful and inclusive.
If you haven't figured it out by now, I'll spell it out: This is a great college level economics principles text. Before long, I intend to quite requiring the expensive text now used in my in-class courses and require students to read chapters from this OER text instead. Thanks Libby Rittenberg & Timothy Tregarthen for all your good work!
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Economics: The Study of Choice
- Chapter 2: Confronting Scarcity: Choices in Production
- Chapter 3: Demand and Supply
- Chapter 4: Applications of Demand and Supply
- Chapter 5: Elasticity: A Measure of Response
- Chapter 6: Markets, Maximizers, and Efficiency
- Chapter 7: The Analysis of Consumer Choice
- Chapter 8: Production and Cost
- Chapter 9: Competitive Markets for Goods and Services
- Chapter 10: Monopoly
- Chapter 11: The World of Imperfect Competition
- Chapter 12: Wages and Employment in Perfect Competition
- Chapter 13: Interest Rates and the Markets for Capital and Natural Resources
- Chapter 14: Imperfectly Competitive Markets for Factors of Production
- Chapter 15: Public Finance and Public Choice
- Chapter 16: Antitrust Policy and Business Regulation
- Chapter 17: International Trade
- Chapter 18: The Economics of the Environment
- Chapter 19: Inequality, Poverty, and Discrimination
- Chapter 20: Macroeconomics: The Big Picture
- Chapter 21: Measuring Total Output and Income
- Chapter 22: Aggregate Demand and Aggregate Supply
- Chapter 23: Economic Growth
- Chapter 24: The Nature and Creation of Money
- Chapter 25: Financial Markets and the Economy
- Chapter 26: Monetary Policy and the Fed
- Chapter 27: Government and Fiscal Policy
- Chapter 28: Consumption and the Aggregate Expenditures Model
- Chapter 29: Investment and Economic Activity
- Chapter 30: Net Exports and International Finance
- Chapter 31: Inflation and Unemployment
- Chapter 32: A Brief History of Macroeconomic Thought and Policy
- Chapter 33: Economic Development
- Chapter 34: Socialist Economies in Transition
About the Book
This book is intended for a two-semester course in Economics taught out of the social sciences or business school. Principles of Economics aims to teach considerable range and depth of Economic concepts through an approachable style and methodology. The authors take a three-pronged approach to every chapter: The concept is covered with a “Heads Up” to ward off confusion, a real-world application for that concept, and a “You Try It” section to make sure students are staying on top of the concept.