I'm absolutely a newcomer in economics and I wish to understand how things work in finance too. So, think of me as uninformed in these matters.

I would like to find resources that discuss economics for non-economists. That is, no mathematics, but how things work internally. For example, a detailed explanation of the effects of inflation on an economy, and how inflation is controlled (or not).

In finance, for instance:

  • how do stock markets work?
  • what are bonds and Certificates of Deposit?

Ideally, I want books that are not boring to read, with not many technicalities, but rather useful information.

I've watched professor Timothy Taylor videos on economics. I do say, that most of it suited my taste and taught me things. This is a good example of what I am looking for.

What are some some suggestions for good books, or other resources?

  • ...check the definition of the term "Economics" that is more about "allocation of scarce resources" rather than their "implementation", more business. Sorry this is too hard for me now, too many restrictions such as math-phobia and still "details". Which videos? – user1770 Jul 7 '11 at 18:41
  • Divide your question into 2 parts. You are mixing stock markets and trading instruments with economics. Yes they are intertwined, but you shouldn't be mixing them at this stage. Get the economics(micro and macro) sorted out first and then reach out for other stuff. – DumbCoder Jul 8 '11 at 7:36

i'm absolutely a newcomer in economics and i wish to understand how things work around finance.

This is a pretty loaded question. To understand finance, you need the basics of economics. In almost every economics school in the country, you first study microeconomics and then economics. So, we'll start with micro. One of, if not the, most popular books is "Principles of Microeconomics" by Mankiw. This book covers the fundamentals of micro econ (opportunity, supply, demand, consumer choice, production, costs, basic game theory, and allocation of resources) in a clear and effective manner. It's designed for the novice and very easy to read.

Principles of Microeconomics

Like Mankiw's other book, "Principles of Macroeconomics" is also top notch. There is some overlap in key areas (i.e. opportunity cost, supply, demand, indifference curves, elasticity, taxation) because they are fundamental to economics and the overlap will always be there, but from there the book goes into key macro concepts like GDP, CPI, Employment, Monetary and Fiscal policy, and Inflation. An excellent intro primer indeed.

Principles of Macroeconomics

Now that you have the fundamentals down, it's time to learn about finance. The best resource, in my opinion, is "Financial Markets" by Robert Shiller on Open Yale Courses. I've personally taken Prof. Shiller's class last semester, and the man is brilliant. The lectures cover every single aspect of finance and can turn the complete novice into a fairly experienced finance student. The first lecture also covers all the math required so you don't get lost at any point. Be warned, however, that the course is very deep. We used Fabozzi's textbook "Foundations of Financial Markets and Institutions," which is over 600 pages deep and we were required to know essentially all of it. Watch the videos and follow the readings and you'll be a finance whiz soon!

Financial Markets on Open Yale

Foundations of Financial Markets and Institutions

And that's your roadmap to what you want. There are other economics books and it's true that the first few chapters of both Mankiw books are largely the same, but that's because any economics course always covers the basics first. If you want to look at other books, Krugman has written some good books as well. Be sure to read reviews because some books are meant for 2nd/3rd year econ students, so you don't want to get a too advanced book. At the novice level, we're interested in understanding the basic concepts so we can master Fabozzi.

As for finance books - Fabozzi teaches you all the fundamentals of financial markets so you've got a powerful foundation. From there you can expand to more niche books such as books on investing or on monetary policy or whatever you want. Best of luck!

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  • That greatly helps ! Thanx a lot ! – SpyrosP Jul 10 '11 at 17:14
  • +1! I wonder if Bodie's Investment and Fabozzi's book cover essentially the same topics? – Tim Jun 20 '12 at 20:23
  • @Tim - I can't speak for the quality as I have never read Bodie, but the topics are largely the same. – BlackJack Jun 20 '12 at 21:45

Economics without math is a tall order, since it seems that one of the things economists love to do is try and reduce everything down to mathematical formulas.

OTOH you are asking about a lot of topics besides economics.

A few books I might suggest would be

  • A Random Walk Down Wall Street
  • Wall Street Words
  • Economics in One Lesson

those three should do a good job of introductory info and helping you understand the basics and vocabulary.

If you want more, one of the better 'recommended reading lists' for things financial that I've ever found is here

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I followed Economics by Michael Parkin for my college level course. It does not involve very complicated mathematics (beyond simple arithmetic and interpreting plots/charts). I found it very enjoyable.

Econ Book

Stocks, bonds, and other money market instruments are not covered under this subject usually. They are covered under finance. I normally recommend Hull to people but because you are not interested in mathematics I would recommend Stuart R Veale.

Finance Book

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The free Yale Course taught by Bob Shiller called Financial Markets is really good. Find it on youtube, iTunes U, academic earth, or yale's site.

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    I've taken Prof. Shiller's class, and it's important to have basic economics down before listening to financial markets. Otherwise, stuff like the Robinson Crusoe economy won't make sense. – BlackJack Jul 10 '11 at 12:42
  • The Crusoe economy that Roberty Murphy also writes about? That example is invalid, unless of course he'll take coconuts for attending his class? They don't understand the economy, and how it works, which makes determining which book to read a big deal. Read one that's popular, and wrong, and you're contributing to the problem. For instance, a lot of economists are currently comparing the US to Greece, yet are still considered experts? – Andy Wiesendanger Jul 12 '11 at 16:21

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