ESSA’s Monthly Highlights: May

The worldly Philosophers – Dr Robert Heilbroner

A must-read book for anyone interested in the historical or political aspects of economics. It chronologically explores the evolution of economics through the work, lives, and ideas of key economic thinkers from Adam Smith to Karl Marx to John Maynard Keynes. In a thoroughly entertaining fashion, it allows us to understand the roots of the ‘dismal science’, how it came to be and how it has impacted the world we live in today. I only found this book thanks to former Melbourne University economics lecturer, Prof Nilss Olekalns. Never have I found so much joy in completing my assigned readings.

-Recommended by Aaron Korczak-Krzeczowski (Subcommittee)

Stopping the Manipulation Machines Greg Besinger

Read this New York Times Article HERE

An interesting read that delves into the power differences at play in ecommerce contexts between consumers and corporations. This article critically analyses our consciousness in interacting with online platforms and how much of our decision making as consumers is influenced by what corporations construct and choose to display on our screens. Deceptive techniques that attempt to guide consumer decision making are scrutinised while potential solutions and policy considerations are explored in an American context. Importantly, this article urges the reader to think critically about their online decision making on an interface that is so prevalent.

-Recommended by Sophie Chen (Subcommittee)

Factfulness – Dr Hans Rosling

When asked simple questions about the world – what percentage of people live in extreme poverty; how many girls finish school; why the global population is increasing – we consistently get these questions wrong. In fact, our knowledge of these questions is so wrong that a group of chimpanzees choosing at random would persistently outguess journalists, Nobel laureates and investment bankers. In his 2017 book completed in the last years of his life, Hans Rosling, who was a medical doctor and professor of global health, provides a radical insight into why we are so wrong about these questions, positing 10 instincts that distort our perspective. Rosling points out that our world, despite all its faults, is actually in a much better state than what we commonly assume. Always worrying about every problem that comes to our immediate consciousness instead of following a worldview based on facts makes us loose our grasp on the things that threaten us most. If you may be interested in why our worldly perspective has gone so astray and are in search of an easily-digestible read that is filled with compelling anecdotes – such as when Hans was confronted by angry villagers with machetes in the Congo – this book is highly recommended.

Recommended by Josh Clyne (Editor)

Melbourne Asia Review

Read HERE

As students at an Australian university and future economists, it’s incredibly important that we take the time to engage with the perspectives, politics, economics, and cultures of other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. This allows us to develop a well-rounded perspective, appreciate Australia’s wider role in the region, and become better economists with multidisciplinary understanding. It is with this in mind that I’m recommending the Melbourne Asia Review (MAR), which is produced by the Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne. MAR is a quarterly publication featuring top researchers sharing specialised insight into Asia and its sub-regions in an accessible and engaging way. Each of the 5 editions so far covers a particular theme in addition to miscellaneous articles, which have all been outlined below:

·       Authoritarianism, democracy and civil society
·       The Dynamics of Discourse and Power
·       Business and human rights in Southeast Asia
·       Islam and contemporary politics
·       Asian Australians

Recommended by Ben Griffiths (Writer)