Books

Economics In One Virus by Ryan A Bourne: A fascinating argument

Economics In One Virus is a sharply written book which explains economic concepts through the US response to Covid.

Economics In One Virus is a sharply written book by Ryan A Bourne. Image credit: QuoteInspector

Economics In One Virus is a sharply written book by Ryan A Bourne. Image credit: QuoteInspector

Much of my job involves writing about numbers, and balancing the challenge of writing about them in an elegant and accessible way while also explaining the concepts involved.

We see this the most clearly in economics: the household analogy is tempting but it actually muddles more than it illuminates.

Ordinary households cannot print their own money (at least, not legally) and anyone with a mortgage takes on far greater multiples of debt as a proportion of their economic output than any state does.

Economics in One Virus by Ryan A Bourne is out now (Cato, £14.99)
1461 books review
Economics in One Virus by Ryan A Bourne is out now (Cato, £14.99)

When households and states run into trouble, they do so in different ways for different reasons. But it also applies for any newspaper story about statistics: for scientific surveys as much as it does for stories about the economy.

Economics In One Virus is a sharply written book by Ryan A Bourne, Daily Telegraph columnist and the R Evan Scharf Chair for the Public Understanding of Economics at the Cato Institute, which attempts to do the same using Covid-19 as an analogy: to explain simple economic concepts through the prism of the American government’s response to the pandemic.

The book is fascinating three times over for a British reader: it’s a fantastic guide to the US response to Covid, a useful introduction to the essential components of economics, and, as you’d expect given the libertarian and right-wing leanings of its author, it is a fascinating argument for free market economics.

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But even if, like me, you don’t share Bourne’s economic analysis, you will find much to learn and much to enjoy in this book.

Economics in One Virus by Ryan A Bourne is out now (Cato, £14.99)

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