Economics in Our Times

by Roger A. Arnold
St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1995
539 pp.

Rating: A-

The focus of Arnold’s book is clear—teaching students to "think like an economist," and it succeeds very well in that task. The book’s treatment of supply, demand, and the price system is excellent. Arnold capably explains the dynamics of the free market and the crucial point that prices serve as the means for allocating scarce goods and resources. A point that the author makes strongly is that monopolies rarely thrive in the absence of governmental protection against new entrants. The book is exceptionally good at explaining the inherent inefficiency in central economic planning that arises from the absence of a price system and profit motive. Arnold tells the reader that an entrepreneur is someone who has a special talent for searching out and taking advantage of new business opportunities and developing new products and ways of doing things. He explains further that the entrepreneur is interested in his own gain, but if he is to be successful, he has to please large numbers of people. The only major disappointment is that in most chapters, the book wastes space on merely descriptive material that could instead have been used for more wide-ranging and thorough economic analysis.

A more detailed critique is available.