Archive for August 20th, 2009

I recently found an interesting textbook, Reintroducing Macroeconomics: A Critical Approach by Steven Mark Cohn. It came it out in December 2006.

This lively introduction to heterodox economics provides a balanced critique of the standard introductory macroeconomic curriculum. In clear and accessible prose, it explains many of the key principles that underlie a variety of alternative theoretical perspectives (including institutionalist economics, radical economics, Post Keynesian economics, feminist economics, ecological economics, Marxist economics, social economics, and socioeconomics). Because the book’s structure parallels the chapters and subject matter presented in a typical introductory macroeconomics textbook, Reintroducing Macroeconomics provides readers with a running commentary on the standard approach, while simultaneously introducing them to a broader range of ideas about the causes and appropriate policy responses to a wide range of common economic problems.

Just briefly scanning the Google Book preview, I noticed that it even included quite a bit on the auctioneer, that critical guarantor of market equilibrium who so few of us ever meet in our economics education. Using this book as a companion to the mainstream textbook would certainly have made macroeconomics much more interesting and we might have actually had some discussion or debate during class.

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There may be no such thing as a free lunch, according to neoclassical economists, but now there are free textbooks.  And, ironically enough, many of them are for Principles of Economics courses.  From Epicenter:

What did you do this summer? Flat World Knowledge stayed busy on campus and now has 40 times as many students and more than 10 times the colleges using their freemium, open-source digital textbooks. And they did it the old-fashioned way — one professor at a time.

After a sort of beta earlier this year, Flat World is set to announce on Thursday that over 40,000 college students at more than 400 colleges are going to be using their digital, DRM-free textbooks in the Fall semester, up from 1,000 in 30 colleges in the Spring.

More on Flat World Knowledge and free textbooks here and here, with a little bit on the economics of the textbook industry:

In a nutshell, there is a huge, inelastic demand for college texts, even though textbook prices are high. Because of this there is a lot of piracy and a robust secondary market for textbooks — but not for long, because they are updated every couple of years, rendering old editions virtually worthless.

It’ll be interesting to watch this trend unfold…

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