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Hidden Order

The Economics of Everyday Life


David D. Friedman (View Bio)
Hardcover: HarperBusiness, 1996; Paperback: HarperBusiness, 1997.

Hidden Order

"The book of the month is HIDDEN ORDER: The Economics of Everyday Life. One doesn't normally think of an economics book as light and pleasant reading, but David makes it seem so. If you have any interest in economics at all, you'll find this book both readable and fascinating; and I guarantee you'll learn something from it." — Byte

"Son of economics Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, David uses everyday life to illustrate economic principles. In so doing he demonstrates his primary premise that behavior is determined by rationally made choices. He argues that economics is based on the 'false' but 'useful assumption' that 'people have reasonably simple objectives and choose the correct means to achieve them.' He says it does not matter that, individually, this is not always the case; collectively, the effects of random irrational behavior average out. His use of commonplace occurrences such as choosing a line at the supermarket checkout or agreeing to do the dishes helps make ideas such as price theory and exchange rates more understandable. [H]is spirited style will attract interest." — Booklist

"David Friedman provides a lively look at how a free-marketer thinks. The author is a talented teacher, and he moves effortlessly from the traffic jams and grocery stores to the efficient-market hypothesis, price theory, and backward-bending labor curves." — The New York Times

"As a relatively math-free field guide to traditional (and some recent) textbook concepts, HIDDEN ORDER does a cleverly decent job." — Worth

"Friedman, son of venerable 'No Free Lunch' economist Milton, here analyzes the familiar to elucidate economic theory. The author tackles subjects as diverse as statistics, rent control, and the Mafia in order to illustrate and explain more complex economic theories about how society works. In fact, Friedman suggests that the study of economics is not so much about measuring value with money as it is about measuring value by the choices we make. While this theory seems to assume that all people have a reservoir of free will, Friedman makes an elegant, articulate case that people commonly accept societal restraints and, as a result, make appropriate economic choices. The economics of society as a whole, he points out, come back to the unstated principle of Adam Smith's invisible hand — though no one is in charge, the system continues- -and Friedman reasons that even the simplest item, such as a pencil, owes its existence to the concerted efforts of millions.... Friedman's distilled analysis and his readable, often entertaining writing make at least the elementary aspects of economic life comprehensible. He cleverly explains the economist's principle of declining marginal value by putting the theory into action in a grocery store, where he shows how choices are made based on what's available, and demonstrates how the desire for a thing drops as the want is filled. Though many of the theories he explains are accompanied by equations, the math is intelligible and the real-life situations — and jokes — make this a good read for even econo-phobes. A surprisingly lucid and useful book, and about as appealing as economics gets." — Kirkus Reviews

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