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Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Reading material

I have a big essay due in on Thursday, and I am going away for the weekend, so I will probably not be posting here again until Sunday or so. Loath as I am to leave you all unoccupied, I've put together a little something to hold your attention until I get back.

At the London flat of a Republican friend a few months back, I was flipping through a book on his coffee table, Paul Krugman's account of currency crises. "That's from before he went crazy," the friend assured me. And indeed, that rather blunt summary is a useful way of thinking for those who doubt the almost Chomskyite or Michael Mooreite Paul Krugman of the New York Times is an especially impressive political commentator. Because he was - or is - a good economic writer, the books he wrote in the 1990s being very worthy of a read by left and right. (Indeed, I see he has received fierce criticism from some sections of the left precisely for the free-trade, moderately pro-market tone of some of this writing.)

In that spirit, I read and enjoyed his Accidental Theorist a fortnight ago, and afterwards pondered whether it was worth shelling out over seven pounds to buy the book. My dilemma was answered when a quick internet search revealed that of the twenty-seven essays in the book, twenty were available online, and of the remainder four were so close to the text of the book that they were almost indistinguishable.

So I've put together an online version of The Accidental Theorist, with links to all but the three essays not available on the web. I recommend it to all those with any interest in any of the areas he covers. But if you only read three of the essays, my recommendations are Unmitigated Gauls, on why governments making conditions cushy and marvellous for employees is so bad for employment; In Praise of Cheap Labour, a strident defence of third-world sweat-shops; and Four Percent Follies, which has all sorts of valuable lessons within.

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