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Economics: An A-Z Guide by Matthew Bishop

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Economics at the crossroads

For economics, these truly are the best of times and the worst of times. On the one hand, the dismal science (as Victorian writer Thomas Carlyle christened it) has never been more fashionable. Books about it top the best-seller lists, ranging from heavyweight tomes about macroeconomic policy – such as the memoirs of Alan Greenspan, former chairman of America’s Federal Reserve bank, who once seemed to have the fate of the global economy in his hands – to populist books using economics to explain the weirdness of every day life, such as Freakonomics, by Steven Dubner and Steven Levitt.

On the other hand – and as an American president, Harry Truman, once complained, “all my economists say, ‘on one hand … on the other’” ...

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