Friday, December 27, 2013

O'Sullivan's Microeconomics. I guess it's ok.




I guess, after looking at the thing, there isn’t much to give credit to not to denigrate this thing.

Most people, if given the choice, will go after a bigger name for their micro book.  Others may not.   They may assume that their author is not easily google-able and they may have ultimate authority. 
The problem with this book, I assume, is the problem with most basic econ books.  The people coming here have no choice about which micro book to buy.  If you’re looking at this one, it is passable.

There are problems, but there are problems with the discipline.  The book assumes that you haven’t taken any calculus.  The mathematical basis of the text is algebra.  Sadly, to really understand what is going on in even the most basic form, you need at least calculus one.  Your advisor didn’t tell you that.  

No calculus means that supply and demand are not part of a dynamic system, but are just a thing that balances.  It is alienating, but it is also illuminating if you don’t need the context and just want to go home over the holidays explaining deadweight loss to your family.  You should still buy them gifts, because otherwise you look mean. 

A couple of notes: the last chapter is about trade and comparative advantage,  it grows to macro and leaves the micro behind.  As part of a combined course it works.  Finally, on page 157 there is a horrible derivation of opportunity cost.  It is a very important part of the course, and it should be told better as a story.  It isn’t here.