Good endorsements for the forthcoming Peter Leeson book

by on April 30, 2017 at 1:24 am in Books, History | Permalink

I hope Peter remains my colleague for a long time to come:

COMING FALL 2017

“This book has a surprise—not to mention a puckish joke—on every page. It’s strange, it’s fascinating, and it’s one of the most original books I’ve ever read.”
—Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist

“The most interesting book I have read in years! Peter Leeson displays his unique talent: unearthing mankind’s seemingly craziest behaviors, and then showing that these behaviors, against all odds, ultimately make perfect sense. WTF?! is like Freakonomics on steroids.”
—Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics

“A fascinating tour of the world’s strangest customs and behaviors, led by a brilliant, funny, and eccentric tour guide. It’s okay to gawk, he says, but it’s even better to empathize and, armed with Leeson’s insights, there’s no reason why we can’t do both.”
—Steven E. Landsburg, author of The Armchair Economist

“Your initial reaction might be ‘WTF!?’ How can medieval trials by ordeal, wife sales, and divine curses all boil down to rational economic behavior? But Leeson will lead you deftly through the logic and history behind these seemingly senseless rituals. Keep an open mind and this book will surprise, teach, and entertain!”
—Andrei Shleifer, Harvard University

Here is the link.  Here is the Amazon link, you can request to be emailed when it becomes available.  I thank Peter Boettke for the pointer, and I look forward to reading the book.

1 JR April 30, 2017 at 2:46 am

I don’t suspect Nassim will have much to say about this, but i’ll read and enjoy the quips. Worried that these are the books to expect from Econ Profs now. Much rather read grad or doctorate thesis at the margins. Thanks for bringing it up tho.

2 Jack PQ April 30, 2017 at 7:50 pm

I agree to a point, but Leeson’s work is more interesting than, say, Levitt’s because it is based on transparent economic theory models, rather than messy data and debatable IVs. With Leeson, if you buy the assumptions, then the results are definitive. With Levitt, it’s on shakier grounds.

3 So Much For Subtlety April 30, 2017 at 3:15 am

“Your initial reaction might be ‘WTF!?’ How can medieval trials by ordeal, wife sales, and divine curses all boil down to rational economic behavior? ,,,,,” —Andrei Shleifer, Harvard University

The problem with Economic history is that a series of Just So stories can be created to explain anything and everything. I am sure if I looked I could find people who explained FGM and cannibalism as economically rational.

Andrei Shleifer, Harvard University? That would be the Andrei Shleifer who did a deal with Feds for millions of dollars after mismanaging the American aid effort to Russia – helping his wife make billions along the way?

4 Troll Me April 30, 2017 at 11:25 am

FGM prevents female obsessions with sex which ensures that it’s for baby making only, instead of wasting time. Also, then, you know who the father is, which increases paternal motivation to invest in their children.

Cannibalism is in principle similar to lendsharking, just taken to an extreme.

By virtue of which two situations, we might have to actively oppose such cultural barbarities until they are eradicated as within the realm of acceptable behaviours in any modern society.

5 carlospln April 30, 2017 at 3:35 am

More flyweight fare endorsed by these equally superficial wannabe scribes? [‘Trust Me, I’m an Economist’; ‘Freakonomics’]

No thanks.

ps ask Larry Summers about Andrei Shleifer

6 dearieme April 30, 2017 at 6:54 am

WKPD helps out:

“In 1997, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) canceled most of its funding for the Harvard project after investigations showed that top HIID officials Andre Schleifer and Johnathan Hay had used their positions and insider information to profit from investments in the Russian securities markets. Among other things, the Institute for a Law Based Economy (ILBE) was used to assist Schleifer’s wife, Nancy Zimmerman, who operated a hedge fund which speculated in Russian bonds.

In August 2005, Harvard University, Shleifer and the Department of Justice reached an agreement under which the university paid $26.5 million to settle the five-year-old lawsuit. Shleifer was also responsible for paying $2 million worth of damages, though he did not admit any wrongdoing.”

I’ll admit, though, that it doesn’t tell everything one might want to know about Summers’s relationship with Shleifer. Not by a long chalk.

7 rayward April 30, 2017 at 7:16 am

Rationalizations and hypocrisy: they are what make us human. Not to mention the cause of everything from boorish behavior to wars. Indeed, economists even have a rationalization for wars: war cures complacency. And speaking of Peter Boettke, economists even have rationalizations for financial crises and economic depressions: they provide the reset for better days ahead.

8 rayward April 30, 2017 at 7:27 am

To be clear, I admire Peter Boettke. He Is the Donald Trump of economists: he says things many economists believe but would never say, at least not out loud for others to hear.

9 Tom T. April 30, 2017 at 9:12 am

Rudyard Kipling got there over a century ago, with his Just So stories.

10 nigel April 30, 2017 at 10:44 am

As our commander in chief might say: Sad.

Pete Leeson is brilliant. I wish he wouldn’t waste his time on this nonsense. All of the above criticisms are correct. More fundamentally, though, aren’t there more consequential unsettled topics in economics today?

11 Jack PQ April 30, 2017 at 7:53 pm

What Leeson is doing is in the tradition of Gary Becker. What Becker did, bringing economic modeling into sociological topics, Leeson is likewise bringing economic modeling into anthropological topics.

Besides, how many macroeconomists and econometricians do we have? Do we need an (n+1)-th ?

12 Artimus April 30, 2017 at 10:49 am

Sorry to say but endorsements by other authors are meaningless to me. Over the years I have noticed many, many authors endorsing the books of endorsees. Sort of like, you endorse my book I’ll endorse your book. When I’m looking at the reviews I skip right past those.

13 Toby April 30, 2017 at 2:33 pm

How many of the chapters in this book have not previously appeared as journal articles? And how many are not freely available on his website? I.e. http://www.peterleeson.com/Papers.html

It seems to be primarily aimed at the layman who is somewhat interested in economics if I am not mistaken?

14 Barkley Rosser April 30, 2017 at 4:04 pm

What brought Summers down as Harvard president was lying to the Harvard faculty about having helped Shleifer with his status at Harvard in spite of all those legal issues.

Probably much of the book by Peter Lesson is based on previously published articles, some of which I was responsible for publishing. However, I suspect that they are rewrites and bring together a bunch of these ideas into one place, which should be good, sort of like his book on piracy. And he is a good writer. It should be a good book.

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