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The recommendation of 10 books in economics
Posted by: Vesna Ivkovic in: Thoughts

This is my recommendation of 10 books in economics that made an impression on me in 2016. Although 2016. has not finished yet, I am still going to single out some books in the field of economics and couple of those which, according to my opinion, are close to economic issues in an unusual way.

1. INNOVATION ECONOMICS, by Robert D. Atkinson & Stephen J. Ezell

The book was published by the Yale University, the USA. It is a typical book about global competition which significantly sobers the American economy and offers the explanation for its economic failure, as well as for the current position the country is, in relation to other countries, as far as the innovations are concerned. The innovation as "a storm of creative destruction" Schumpeter used to write about, talks about the global competition in the field of innovations, which is essential for the economic growth.
The following questions appear in this book: Why is India still poor country? Why cannot Japan accelerate its growth? Why are the United States of America behind the other leading countries in terms of adopting the digital platform technologies? Why do educational contents in many nations look exactly the way they looked fifty years ago? Why haven't we succeeded in curing the cancer yet? Why does the renewable energy still cost more than the coal and oil? The main question refers to the innovations which might exist, but do not exist. An interesting book.


The author of the book The Physics of the Future, a quantum physicist Michio Kaku, explains, by submitting the scientific facts, how might our planet and people who live on it look like in the near future, while approaching to 2100. In the book, the science is seen as "a double-edged sword" which will reflect on social changes. The life in the future might be something like the following: the life in the rooms with the wall screens and electronic wallpapers, furniture and clothes on sensor, internet on billboards, glasses and contact lenses, cars with no drivers, the time when the words such as a computer or a car accident will not exist in dictionaries, and the traffic jams will disappear. Elastic and super-thin lap top will become the simple OLED that we will fold and put in our wallet… There is no reliable answer to the question whether all desired innovations will come true, I was more interested in observing the way the innovation activity will reflect on the enterprises and on everyday life, as well as what types of changes will occur. What is interesting about of this book is that it is about the losses and the gains that will appear due to implementation of technological innovations.
For example, Kaku explains -"The winners will be those who do the non-repetitive jobs which require pattern recognition (garbage collectors, policemen, construction workers, gardeners and plumbers will have the jobs in the future). Among the administrative workers, the losers will be those who deal with the inventory and "counting". Kaku then continues - "It means that the lower employees, brokers, cashiers, accountants, etc., will lose their jobs and their jobs will cease to exist."
The middle class will have to add some value to their work, to do the things that the robots cannot. For example, Kaku mentions the house which can be bought on the Internet, but the buyer still wants to see the surroundings, the near-by school for his/her children, so the agent will have to take the buyer to the tour, giving the additional value by submitting extra information related to the shopping service. The creative employees - those who can paint, act, tell jokes, create software, are into leadership, analysis, science and creativity - that is, have the characteristics that "make us human". Novelists, scriptwriters and play writers (since that require remodelling of human nature), which exceeds the computer. The remaining professions will be the lawyers, the leaders, entertainers…that is the sector which includes intellectual capitalism.
At the end of the analysis of the winners and the losers of the scientific processes, Kaku concludes - "The countries which rely on the goods, and those that are rich in natural resources in the future might sink into the poverty." Absolutely anyone who is interested in science and innovation must read this book.

3. CHINA`S RISE, by Fred Bergsten, Nikolas Lardy, Derek Mitchell and Charles Freeman

Before I went to Hong Kong, I had been reading this book, because I wanted to get familiar with different civilization. The book explains the rise of China from the poor country to the country which creates the world economic flows, along with the United States of America and Europe. China has become deeply integrated in the world economy. The book "China`s Rise" is about the effect that rising of China has on the American interests and political assumptions. It draws attention to the facts that China and the United States of America have overcome the huge differences in the last 30 years. However, there are still some key issues related to the corruption level in China (including the incidents in which some state officials took part, buying and selling of jobs and "criminalization" of the country). What is specific is the fact that China is still a non-market economy, to a large degree (which means that the government makes the most important decisions about prices and distribution of goods and resources), despite the tremendous increasing of marketability in the last three decades. China is also a nuclear power, so that other countries tend to limit the spreading of nuclear weapons, for there are some bad examples related to safety such as Germany at the end of the 19th century, and Japan and again Germany, at the beginning of the 20th century. There are also other similar examples, such as the United States of America at the end of the 19th century and the European Union and Japan in the second half of the 20th century. Anyway, this is an interesting book which primarily focuses on international relations, especially dealing with some of the crucial political issues.


This book, as well as all the books on the ecology, makes you wonder: What can I do for the nature? Also, the book poses the famous question to the economists: Why do economists have to be "green"?
The author of this book, Mckibben speaks about the effect of climate changes on the mankind. The book does not skip the actual topics about the nuclear threats to the ecosystems. For example, Mckibben describes the Eskimos from the Yupik tribe and the way they perceive the Westerners as "the people who change the nature". The book describes the changes that happen on the North and the South Pole, that is, the farthest from people. What makes this book so special is the fact that it speaks about the deep awareness of people - "The Earth has become abstract, and the economy specific".
The author continues, in the same tone: "Such a world, in which people in the streets of Boston shoot at each other because of the bread is not inconceivable."
The book also deals with the destruction of the ozone layer and the questions related to the global warming. The writer takes the reader through the lovely valleys of America, clear streams filled with fish, prairies where suddenly, out of nowhere deer run out, the fields of wild sunflower and violets spreading beneath. But at the same time, he describes a human who enters the forests with chainsaws and cuts trees, disturbs the beauty of the lake with the motor boats… The book stresses the fragility of nature - "A child born today will maybe swim in the rivers filled with toxic waste…" The author vividly describes the landscapes of damaged nature, stressing the fact that - "We live in post-natural world". The book also points out that the nature and human society have become two separate categories. Namely, the nature has turned into our hobby, and our need for the nature has become superficial.
It took me one weekend to read this book, but it made me think about the questions it deals with for weeks. The book is enriched with the statistical data related to the ecological changes, and at the same time it presents the personal tone of the writer, who experiences all these processes as the man with the heart and human feelings. Although it was written couple of years ago, the book still deals with the current issues of social activism and commitment to that which is good for our planet. So, if you are a nature lover, I strongly recommend this book!

5. THE MARTIAN, by Andy Weir

This is an exciting and inspiring book which I have read in one breath and which truly inspired me! Although it belongs to the science fiction domain, it is first of all, the book about the creative entrepreneurship and innovativeness! The book is interesting, filled with funny witticisms of the main character who has a brilliant sense of humour! It is a science fiction story about the astronaut and a botanist Mark Watney who, during the expedition to Mars, found himself deserted by the members of the crew due to a sandy storm, and being a botanist, he tries to survive on Mars. The book was written in the form of a diary led by a botanist Watney according to SOL days. Watney has a great sense of humour and thanks to his optimism he manages to solve the problems and to survive by growing potatoes on Mars, since he does not have time to wait for the next expedition to come and pick him up in a VPM (vehicle for taking off from Mars). The book is educational because it deals with the details from botany, chemistry, technology, economy, ecology, law, psychology…and it educated the reader in a very unusual way, pointing out the fact that the knowledge of all the people on the planet is mutually connected, sending at the same time a strong ecological message. This book is important since it stresses the importance of innovations in the area of the scientific research. The author of the book is Andy Weir who is a software engineer by vocation, and at the same time a real aficionado about the space, so that he has written the story supported by the scientific facts.
When I started reading this book, I just couldn`t stop. The book will keep you thrilled until the very last page and you will truly enjoy the space adventures of the botanist Watney! A great science fiction film was made according to the book, with Matt Damon in the leading role. The film is also very educational, just like the film - Interstellar. Do not miss reading this book!

6. THE BELLS OF THE FOURTH PLANET, by Kaskusti (pseudonym), Iraqui writer Qusay Al Ansari

I read this book after a friend of mine had recommended it to me. The book was written by the Iraqui writer Qusay Al Ansari (more familiar under the pseudonym - Kaskusti) and I was more than thrilled by it. It is the story about a young architect Aleksa who lives and works in Belgrade. This book is the first of the trilogy based on the philosophical ideas and understandings of one of the oldest civilizations on Earth. The book starts with the simple life story of an architect and the first impression does not promise anything exciting. However, the moment an alien Neo knocks on his door will make this book more than exciting! Neo takes Aleksa through the galaxy and on six inhabited planets: Ham, Sam, Slar, Kai, Magotan, Idina, and each of those planetary civilizations is specific and has their own philosophy of life. By meeting the characters from the book, the story goes on and introduces the reader to the ancient Sumerian ideas. The book pushes the limits of human imagination and, in a very relaxing, casual way, tells the lovely story about love, values of life, friendship, honesty, and suffering. Although this book does not belong to the category of the economic literature, I reckon that any businessman/woman should read it, since it gives answers to a number of questions that bother business people of modern time on a daily basis, and which relate to understanding of the relationship between the science, justice, love and human feelings. The book leaves an impression on the reader and be sure that there will be several moments when you will simply try hard not to shed a tear. Also, this is book can be a great present which makes a profound impression and which you cannot forget. Be sure to read it, I strongly recommend!

7. THE BEATLES, by Hunter Davis

"My business model is the Beatles. Four young men, protecting each other from the negative tendencies, making each other more balanced, and together creating something way better than the simple sum of several parts. That is how I see business: great things in business are never done by only one man, but by a team of people." - said Steve Jobs. That is why I decided to read this book! In addition to the fact that I love listening to the Beatles music, I also wanted to get more familiar with the history of their beginnings, all that process and the world of creating creative teams! The book is abundant in photographs from the life and the childhood times of the members of the Beatles, the stories are interesting and full with details from their lives I have never heard of before.

8. THE 80/20 PRINCIPLE, by Richard Koch

I have always been interested in the Wilfred Pareto`s principle 80/20, since my college days when I first came across the famous Pareto`s method, or Pareto`s Law (also known as "The Law of the Slightest Effort" or "The Principle of Misbalance"). Namely, back in 1897 Pareto proved that the things work in one utterly unusual and misbalanced, but mathematically expressive way. It is the principle 80/20, according to which 80% of the achieved results in any sphere of life comes from only 20% of invested effort, time or money, which is totally opposed to the rule "no pain, no gain". So, this principle practically opposes common sense. Pareto studied the distribution of wealth and income in England in the nineteenth century and came to the conclusion that all that wealth came from the 20% of consumers. When I saw that the book was published, I knew I had to have it on my shelf, so that it can always remind me of the mentioned principle, in order not to forget it. Just as a reminder, Pareto`s 80/20 principle states that we achieve 80% of the results out of 20% of invested work. For example, in an enterprise, 80% of income comes from 20% of buyers, 80% of the wealth in European countries is controlled by 20% of population, 20% of products brings 80% of income (take Apple for example, the company which has a few products, and still sells to millions of people), 80% of the music which is listened worldwide comes from 20% of artists, and many other examples… Richard Koch, who is a businessman, explained in details, the orientation and the focus of the strength. The book is divided into four parts, the introduction, the organization, work and the application of the principle. In any case, it is the book worth reading.

9. DECODING REALITY, by Vlatko Vedral

This book was written by local author Vlatko Vedral, a quantum physics professor, and represents the book about the universe as the quantum information. This is an interesting book which offers a view to quantum physics from the completely different angle. For example, a piece of information can have different meaning to two different people. A lot of information can help, but can also "smother" you, so the author says that while describing certain example, there should be a universal law. For example, instead of having one hundred different laws for describing throwing of the tennis ball into the air, whereby each of those laws is applicable in different set of conditions, we can have only one law which includes every possible condition and gives us the possibility of much better understanding. That is why Vedral points out that better understanding of our reality is equalized with the compression of information contained in it. The essence lies in the place where the information bits originate. Some of the crucial answers to the important life questions are given in this book.

10. SILICON VALLEY, by Christoph Keese

If you have wanted to know more about the Silicon Valley, like me, this book is the right choice for you. Keese offers a romantic description of the Silicon Valley as Florence in Renaissance period.
Keese describes a small place called Palo Alto, where many entrepreneurs, programmers and investors live. The list of the worldly known companies is quite impressive: Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo, Google, Apple, Tesla motors, Intuit, Agilent Technologies, Silicon Graphics, LinkedIn, E*TRADE and others: There are some interesting details about the house in which Steve Jobs lived and died, with seven apple trees planted in the garden. In this book, the author describes that the innovation appears in such areas, where a lot of information is exchanged in a small space. The book also describes the work of Stanford University, being the convenient ground for creating successful entrepreneurs in such a small area. Some think that Stanford is not a university at all, because the study is based on the science and innovation, which actually is the secret of its success. For example, the Stanford students get a five-dollar bill and a deadline of six days to figure out the way of turning those five dollars into the maximal profit. Sounds incredible!? There were so many other ideas, starting from the lemonade stall, car wash service or pumping the bicycle tires for a dollar, with the tire pressure check, free of charge, and many others. The basic thing is to think innovatively even when it sounds impossible. But the number of the new ideas is fascinating. One third of Stanford graduates own their own company, and another third turned to investments. Stanford is the essence of the Silicon Valley. When I finished reading this book I was inspired by innovativeness, and particularly by the descriptions of the house in which Steve Jobs lived and died. When I finished reading this book, I was overwhelmed with the desire to visit Palo Alto!

One more thing - a bonus book:


As a master student, I attended one of the Vizjak`s lectures held on FEFA University. Ever since then I have tried to find and buy this book. However, it seemed that somehow I always missed the chance to get it, so I eventually got it this year. The book is about different positions of enterprises in Slovenia where Vizjak was an adviser, pointing out the analysis of the process of different branches in enterprises, as well as the growth strategies in the conditions of global competition.
That would be all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading my recommendations and that you will read some of the suggested books! :) I am sure that whoever got till the end of these recommendations, certainly will read some of them! ;-)

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