Economy Textbooks for Math Lovers

In summary, the conversation discussed book recommendations for good economy textbooks for someone who is mathematically inclined. The conversation covered both micro and macroeconomics, with multiple book suggestions for each subject. It was suggested that learning the foundations of microeconomics before delving into macroeconomics is ideal. The conversation also recommended some graduate level textbooks but mentioned the importance of having a strong foundation first. Finally, there were recommendations for textbooks that cover both micro and macroeconomics and are analytical in nature.
  • #1
vanesch
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I'm looking for good economy textbooks for the mathematically inclined (me :-) ). Anybody any suggestions ?
Mostly interested in monetary aspects and macro economy but might also be broader.
 
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  • #2
I don't know your background in economics or mathematics but I can recommend the following books.

For micro I would suggest:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0324421621/?tag=pfamazon01-20 by Walter Nicholson is arguably the most rigorous micro tb at the undergraduate level. It's typically used in intermediate micro.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0393957357/?tag=pfamazon01-20 by Hal Varian is the next level up. Typically used in upper undergraduate or masters level. Econ Grads often refer to this book for intuition (which could be said the same for Nicholsons book as well).

If you're feeling really gung-ho https://www.amazon.com/dp/0195073401/?tag=pfamazon01-20 by Mas-Colell et al. is the bible at first year grad econ.

For the sake of completeness I would also recommend Greg Mankiws 'Principle of Microeconomics' (any edition will do including the first one) and Paul Samuelsons 'Economics' (first edition or one of the earlier editions only). Greg Mankiws book is the dominant first year tb and should be referred to to learn basic concepts. Samuelsons book is a classic and I recommend it for demagogue purposes only (hence recommend only his early editions).

For Macro:

'https://www.amazon.com/dp/0132078295/?tag=pfamazon01-20' by Olivier Blanchard is a good macro tb with a Keynsian flavour (but that's typical. Almost all undergrad is taught with a keynsian flavour). You might not find this at all rigorous since most of it is algebraic manipulation or basic calc. Personally I think this is one of the better intermediate macro tb.

'https://www.amazon.com/dp/0199210691/?tag=pfamazon01-20' by Heijdra is one I really like. At level of upper undergrad or masters.

For intuition in macro you can refer to Samuelsons book I recommended earlier.

With macro it's hard to recommend tbs just because it's a fairly contentious area within economics. Compared to micro it was fairly easy to recommend since the tbs I recommended are almost all widely used and accepted. Macro is relatively more fragmented. I could recommend some grad level macro tb (specialised in monetary or growth etc.) but I don't think their is any point since you probably couldn't build any intuition with them without the proper foundations.

For whatever it's worth I think it's more ideal to learn the foundations of micro before you go into macro since many of the fundamental concepts are developed in micro (e.g rational choice framework, demand-supply etc.) and also tbh you really can't learn what economics is about without getting a taste for micro. Another thing to keep in mind is you're not learning 'truths' but a framework to decide on your own what you think is true. Though based on the textbooks I've recommended are through the 'neo-classical' framework/methodology (which is the dominant/mainstream one). I'm sure there are econ people who are heterodox inclined (eg. Austrian school) who would fundamentally disagree with the books i recommend but they can always give you their recommendations.

Finally, I know I've recommended some grad level tbs but I'm not a grad (I just really like economics).
 
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  • #3
Alpha Chiang's Fundamental Methods of Mathematical Economics is the basic upper-level undergrad or intro-level graduate text for learning mathematical techniques as applied to economics, though it has no particular bent toward micro or macro, covering both. It uses pretty basic calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations, showing how to get from assumptions and inputs to models and conclusions. I personally think it's most enlightening, in addition to being a good intro text, regarding sensitivity analysis, giving you a very clear picture of changing the assumptions and inputs to a model changes the conclusions you draw and likely the policy recommendations you'd make.

It's not a forecasting or econometrics text if that's what you're looking for. It's almost entirely analytical, but it covers all of the basics of micro and macro.

If you need a more basic intro first, try Introduction to Economics Analysis by Preston McAfee, formerly of Cal Tech. I recommend it both because it is fairly rigorous and mathematical and because it is free and online at http://www.introecon.com/. Unfortunately, it seems he updated it to make it more user-friendly and I'm not sure where you can find the older version online. It's a pure micro text, though, so probably not what you're looking for.
 
  • #4
Thanks a lot guys !

I'll try to have a look at them...
 
  • #5
loseyourname said:
Alpha Chiang's Fundamental Methods of Mathematical Economics is the basic upper-level undergrad or intro-level graduate text for learning mathematical techniques as applied to economics, though it has no particular bent toward micro or macro, covering both. It uses pretty basic calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations, showing how to get from assumptions and inputs to models and conclusions. I personally think it's most enlightening, in addition to being a good intro text, regarding sensitivity analysis, giving you a very clear picture of changing the assumptions and inputs to a model changes the conclusions you draw and likely the policy recommendations you'd make.

I understood (maybe wrongly) that it was a course in mathematics for economists (the inverse of what I am looking for). When I look at the table of contents on amazon, it looks more like a first/second year general mathematics book (explaining what are linear functions, matrices, linear programming and the like).
 
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  • #6
skilgannonau said:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0393957357/?tag=pfamazon01-20 by Hal Varian is the next level up. Typically used in upper undergraduate or masters level. Econ Grads often refer to this book for intuition (which could be said the same for Nicholsons book as well).

I can vouch for Varian's. This is the only college textbook that I have referred to regularly since graduating. It is a must-have. He is very theory-heavy and places little emphasis on the math, which sounds like exactly what you need. If you can't work out the functions, though, supplemental workbooks are available.
 
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  • #7
vanesch said:
I understood (maybe wrongly) that it was a course in mathematics for economists (the inverse of what I am looking for). When I look at the table of contents on amazon, it looks more like a first/second year general mathematics book (explaining what are linear functions, matrices, linear programming and the like).

Actually, now that you put it like that, you're probably right. It's not comprehensive as a mathematics course, but more than half the book is devoted to teaching the techniques and less than that to actual economic analysis.
 
  • #8
Don't forget that MIT's entire Econ undergrad & grad course program is online. Lecture videos, lecture notes, problem sets and answers, etc
http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/#economics

Edit:

I see for Micro MIT uses:
Mas-Colell, Andreu, Michael Whinston, and Jerry Green. Microeconomic Theory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1995. ISBN: 0195073401.

Jehle, Geoffrey, and Philip Reny. Advanced Microeconomic Theory. 2nd ed. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 2000. ISBN: 0321079167.

The entry level Micro text:
Pindyck, Robert S., and Daniel L. Rubinfeld. Microeconomics. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2004. ISBN: 9780130084613.


They seem to use MWG throughout the program as a reference.
 
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