Thursday, December 29, 2011

Five best books: economics is fun

Daniel S. Hamermesh is Sue Killam Professor in the Foundation of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin and Professor of Labor Economics at Maastricht University. His most recent book is Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful.

He shared five top books on "economics is fun" with Sophie Roell at The Browser, including:
Murder at the Margin
by Marshall Jevons

I haven’t read your next choice yet, which is a pity, as I love murder mysteries. It’s called Murder at the Margin by Marshall Jevons.

I chose this partly for personal reasons. First of all, as you probably guessed, the author’s name is not a real person. It’s two guys who were buddies in graduate school and got together and wrote this. I also like it because it takes place in St John, USVI, which is where I spent my honeymoon. In fact, it takes place at the same resort, which was the only place there at the time. Finally, I chose it because it set off a number of people writing economics murder mysteries. This is the first of a series, not just by them, but others did the same thing. Writing these murder mysteries was all the rage in the late 1970s and early 80s. In that sense it’s an innovator. It’s also quite a good mystery. I didn’t read mysteries at that time. Nowadays I read immense numbers of mysteries and as they go – it’s not The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, that’s for sure – it’s still a pretty good one. Coupling that with a chance to illustrate some economics.

Yes, the chief protagonist, I gather, is a distinguished Harvard economist called Harry Spearman?

On the dust jacket they have Henry Spearman standing between a pair of palm trees. He looks an awful lot like Milton Friedman. The face is not quite round enough, but it could be Milton.

I was going to ask, is it based on anyone?

No, I don’t think so. I mean, this person is extremely economic and thinks economics can be used for anything. In that sense it might be Gary Becker…
Read about another book Hamermesh tagged.

--Marshal Zeringue