If I Taught Greg Mankiw's Seminar
By Arnold Kling
His list of books for a freshman seminar in economics includes a diverse selection, including Bryan’s Myth of the Rational Voter, which is the only one that I would duplicate. Offhand, I would pick
1. Jerry Muller, The Mind and the Market. My choice for history-of-economic-thought book is much more difficult than Heilbroner (Mankiw’s pick), and far meatier.
2. Robert Frank The Economic Naturalist. Replaces the McMillan book on Mankiw’s list. Could be a close call.
3. Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian, Information Rules. Price discrimination explains everything. I like it much more than Dixit-Nalebuff (Mankiw’s choice in what I would call the business economics category).
4. Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist. Yes, Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom and Hayek’s Road to Serfdom are classics, but this works better today. Or should I propose From Poverty to Prosperity?
5. Kevin Lang, Poverty and Discrimination. A left-leaning book, with a good dose of statistical methods provided along the way. My preference over the Okun classic.
6. Ed Leamer, Macroeconomic Patterns and Stories. As you know from recent posts, I like his perspective on macro, and he has a good sense for methods. Replaces both Farmer and Krugman from Mankiw’s list.
7. Burton Malkiel, A Random Walk Down Wall Street. Students should be conversant in finance and how economists think about it.
8. Tyler Cowen, The Age of the Infovore. This would replace Landsburg in the category I think of as “economists outside the box.” Many alternatives here, none exactly right. What I really want is The Best of Robin Hanson, a collection of six essays (any more and the students’ heads would explode), but that book doesn’t exist.