The Great Economists

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What to expect

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of The Great Economists written and read by Linda Yueh.

What can the ideas of history’s greatest economists tell us about the most important issues of our time?

Since the days of Adam Smith, economists have grappled with a series of familiar problems – but often their ideas are hard to digest, before we even try to apply them to today’s issues. Linda Yueh is renowned for her combination of erudition, as an accomplished economist herself, and accessibility, as a leading writer and broadcaster in this field; and in The Great Economists she explains the key thoughts of history’s greatest economists, how their lives and times affected their ideas, how our lives have been influenced by their work, and how they could help with the policy challenges that we face today.

In the light of current economic problems, and in particular economic growth, Yueh explores the thoughts of economists from Adam Smith and David Ricardo through Joan Robinson and Milton Friedman to Douglass North and Robert Solow. Along the way she asks, for example: what do the ideas of Karl Marx tell us about the likely future for the Chinese economy? How does the work of John Maynard Keynes, who argued for government spending to create full employment, help us think about state investment? And with globalization in trouble, what can we learn about handling Brexit and Trumpism?

‘Economics students, like others, can learn a lot from this book’ – Professor Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion

‘Not only a great way to learn in an easily readable manner about some of the greatest economic influences of the past, but also a good way to test your own a priori assumptions about some of the big challenges of our time.’ – Lord Jim O’Neill, former Chairman at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, former UK Treasury Minister, and author of The Growth Map

‘An extremely engaging survey of the lifetimes and ideas of the great thinkers of economic history.’ – Professor Kenneth Rogoff, author of The Curse of Cash and co-author of This Time is Different

Critics Review

  • Are you looking to learn about the very greatest economists of all time? Linda Yueh’s book is the best place to start, a modern-day version of Robert Heilbroner’s classic The Worldly Philosophers.

    Tyler Cowen, the Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University, and author of The Complacent Class and The Great Stagnation
  • Economics students are not taught the history of economic thought. They, like others, can learn a lot from this book: some of the great economists of the past had insights that could have saved the subject from its recent embarrassments.

    Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Oxford University
  • Not only a great way to learn in an easily readable manner about some of the greatest economic influences of the past, but also a good way to test your own a priori assumptions about some of the big challenges of our time.

    Lord Jim O'Neill, former Chairman at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, former UK Treasury Minister, and author of The Growth Map
  • A fascinating event for anyone interested in economics. For this is a book which, as the title suggests, champions the value of studying the leading economic thinkers of the past … As an Oxford don and a professor at London Business School, Yueh undoubtedly knows her stuff; and as a former chief business correspondent for the BBC and economics editor at Bloomberg TV, she is a well-known and skilful communicator … The achievements of modern, scientific economics are significant, and the reader who wants a slick and well-curated tour of its current policy recommendations will profit greatly from Yueh’s enjoyable and up-to-date book.

    New Statesman
  • An extremely engaging survey of the lifetimes and ideas of the great thinkers of economic history, woven together with fascinating and useful discussions of how their ideas still shape economic policy today. Yueh’s book is reminiscent of Heilbroner’s marvellous classic The Wordly Philosophers, but more focused on contemporary debates on inequality, trade and productivity. Although targeted at readers interested in economic issues, this book would also make an excellent supplementary reading for undergraduate courses in economics, politics and social studies.

    Kenneth Rogoff, Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics at Harvard University, author of The Curse of Cash and co-author of This Time is Different
  • Linda Yueh has had the brilliant idea of, not just describing the theories of each great thinker, but linking each one to a particular problem of today … I am sure Linda Yueh’s original approach will deepen students’ understanding of the Great Economists.

    Lord Lamont, former Chancellor of the Exchequer

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