Economics in Plain English

Economics in Plain English by Leonard Silk

I am not an economist and I've never really wanted to be one. (Although I do read The Economist when I get a chance).

But lately I've been thinking a lot and talking a lot with entrepreneurs about the concept of supply and demand and its impact on the bottom line of small businesses. This has led me (reluctantly, at times) to dive into economics books. When I wake up, I fear I've lost what little I gleaned.

So I went to the library in search of an “Economy for Dummies” type of book to give me some of the back story on supply and demand. That's when I stumbled on a little book called Economics in Plain English by Leonard Silk. Although I've read other books that claimed to put Economics into plain English, this book really did.

At first I was worried because the version I have was published in 1986… and a lot has happened in the last 20 years to business and economics. Things like the Internet.

But I picked up the book anyway and started reading it, at least to give it a chance. I was completely engrossed. Silk was an economics columnist for the New York Times and he worked at Business Week; he knows a thing or two about economics and plain English.

The book didn't start in the typical way: he proposes that every idea in economics can be simply expressed and he criticizes economists for not doing so. There aren't a lot of graphs or charts… maybe 4 or 5 of each in the 230 page book (which looks more like a novel than the voluminous tomes I've tried to read before).

What I love about Silk's style is that I will read a chapter and by the end I will realize that I've learned a lot about economics along the way without feeling like I'm trying to get through a textbook. His book is so easy to read. It covers different types of markets, different concepts, the national economy, and the world economy in a way that is balanced, thoughtful, and easy to read.

I've never thought I'd say this but he elevates the idea of the economy to an art form. I will buy this book.

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