If you like technical things, if you really love learning how things work, how pushing here moves that over there, then you are a natural for economics. I confess, I love economics. I love to study complex relationships between things, seeing the pushing and pulling motions translated into rotation and movements where you might not expect. It’s neat, whether it’s in an engine, a transmission or a market economy.
It takes a certain type of logical thinking to really get into an engine or to understand a new type of powerplant like the new hybrids and fuel cells. That same logical thinking can be applied to market economies to give you an idea of why things happen as they do. Engines may seem like magic to those non technical folks who have no idea what goes on inside and markets have the same mysterious quality to those who have never looked at them because they thought it just wasn’t interesting.
Economics is interesting because it affects most everything you do, even when you think you’re dealing with something else like buying a motorcycle or filling up at the gas station, deciding to buy only domestic or foreign vehicles, supporting the environment and buying green vehicles, the list goes on and on, but not understanding economics often leads to decisions with the exact opposite effect as what you were intending, like boosting horsepower and finding your acceleration has suffered. Darn!
A recently released book, The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor–and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car!, by Tim Harford, is an excellent walk through lots of areas where the unintended consequences and trade offs are made plain and where what you think is happening isn’t even close. It’s just the kind of thing you need when listening to a lot of the nonsense that passes for knowledge or educated opinion. Plant closings, manufacturing going overseas, expensive hybrids and more, the kinds of things you’ll know far more about after reading this book. It’s understandable tech stuff, very cool. I highly recommend it.