Economix - fact or fiction?

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Economix - fact or fiction?

#1  Postby Newmark » Sep 23, 2013 12:44 pm

I recently came across a comic book at the local library, titled Economix: How and Why Our Economy Works*. It proclaims itself to be an introduction to economics and economic history, along with a description of the sources of some of the problems the world faces today. Being a layperson in economics, I found it an interesting and illuminating read. However, since the political views that the book promotes are quite close to my own, my "too good to be true"-sense has started tingling, but I'm not competent enough in the field to evaluate its veracity.

Has anyone here read it? Is it factually correct, or is Goodwin just making it up? Does he omit important parts of economics, and are the quotes he has (from e.g. Smith, Marx, Keynes) given in proper context? Are there any well-founded conservative (or other) rebuttals?

*(Goodwin, Michael and Burr, Dan E. (2012) Economix: How and Why Our Economy Works (and Doesn't Work), in Words and Pictures. New York: Abrams ComicArts. 0810988399)
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#2  Postby Mike_L » Sep 23, 2013 12:58 pm

Seems as if one can view the comic book here...
http://www.slideshare.net/rafiqsh/economix
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#3  Postby Newmark » Sep 23, 2013 1:17 pm

Nice, thanks for the tip! :)
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#4  Postby Mike_L » Sep 23, 2013 1:35 pm

You're welcome! :thumbup:
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#5  Postby economixcomix » Sep 26, 2013 6:15 pm

Hi there. I'm the author. (Why yes, I do obsessively Google my own name; how did you know?)

Obviously, I have a massive bias, so please take my answers with a grain of salt.

>Is it factually correct, or is Goodwin just making it up?

One thing that's not clear in the book, unfortunately, is that the book's website contains not just a reading list but panel-by-panel references (economixcomix.com/references). So the facts cited in the book are, in my completely impartial opinion, well supported. However:

>Does he omit important parts of economics,

Hooboy do I ever. There were a million judgment calls about what to include and what to leave out, and I certainly left out many important things simply because they didn't fit in my story (like, it broke my heart to have to leave out Thorstein Veblen). I also left out plenty of facts that, while not crucial, give a more complete picture of certain people or ideas. For example, I didn't have space to give full justice to Herbert Hoover, who practically invented modern international aid, I wind up saying that Hayek's ideas are complex rather than showing how complex they were, and I give presidents the credit or blame for everything that happened in their administration rather than go into detail about the Townsendites' influence on Social Security or whatever.

But every book leaves out important things--the economy is just too damn big to fit in a book.

>and are the quotes he has (from e.g. Smith, Marx, Keynes) given in proper context?

Well, I think so, with one possible exception: in the Wall Street Journal quote on page 281, panel 3, the full quote is “In some factories, the party chief is a big help: he might act like a cooperative labor-union president who will pressure you for better wages and housing, but will intervene with great authority when workers are causing problems for you.” I quoted this as "In some factories, the party chief is a big help: he . . . will intervene with great authority when workers are causing problems for you.” I think that's a fair redaction, but it does make the WSJ look a bit more like a tool than it actually was.

>Are there any well-founded conservative (or other) rebuttals?

None that I, with my obsessive Googling, have come across. Reason, which is a libertarian organ that skews conservative, mentioned my "surprising fairness," which was gratifying, and even financial journals have given it good reviews. In fact, the only bad reviews I've come across have been the occasional civilian on Goodreads and Amazon, and I haven't found their objections compelling. But feel free to check them out; your mileage may vary. (You can sort for those that gave one or two stars.)

Anyway, thanks for your interest! I'm still kind of amazed that anyone reads my strange book.
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#6  Postby Loren Michael » Sep 27, 2013 2:46 am

In South Korea, there's an educational comic industry that publishes this kind of thing for a vairety of topics. As far as I know none of them have been translated save for one single book by an author/artist, can't remember his name, who focuses on geography. The book he did about Korea has been translated for consumption by foreign audiences.

To me, if a subject is too big for one book to do it justice, it seems better to make it a series. A good deal of Adam Smith's stuff was descriptions of interactions between people and how that affects society at large; that seems ripe for an in-depth graphic approach.
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#7  Postby Newmark » Sep 30, 2013 12:16 pm

economixcomix wrote:Hi there. I'm the author. (Why yes, I do obsessively Google my own name; how did you know?)

Obviously, I have a massive bias, so please take my answers with a grain of salt.

>Is it factually correct, or is Goodwin just making it up?

One thing that's not clear in the book, unfortunately, is that the book's website contains not just a reading list but panel-by-panel references (economixcomix.com/references). So the facts cited in the book are, in my completely impartial opinion, well supported. However:

>Does he omit important parts of economics,

Hooboy do I ever. There were a million judgment calls about what to include and what to leave out, and I certainly left out many important things simply because they didn't fit in my story (like, it broke my heart to have to leave out Thorstein Veblen). I also left out plenty of facts that, while not crucial, give a more complete picture of certain people or ideas. For example, I didn't have space to give full justice to Herbert Hoover, who practically invented modern international aid, I wind up saying that Hayek's ideas are complex rather than showing how complex they were, and I give presidents the credit or blame for everything that happened in their administration rather than go into detail about the Townsendites' influence on Social Security or whatever.

But every book leaves out important things--the economy is just too damn big to fit in a book.

>and are the quotes he has (from e.g. Smith, Marx, Keynes) given in proper context?

Well, I think so, with one possible exception: in the Wall Street Journal quote on page 281, panel 3, the full quote is “In some factories, the party chief is a big help: he might act like a cooperative labor-union president who will pressure you for better wages and housing, but will intervene with great authority when workers are causing problems for you.” I quoted this as "In some factories, the party chief is a big help: he . . . will intervene with great authority when workers are causing problems for you.” I think that's a fair redaction, but it does make the WSJ look a bit more like a tool than it actually was.

>Are there any well-founded conservative (or other) rebuttals?

None that I, with my obsessive Googling, have come across. Reason, which is a libertarian organ that skews conservative, mentioned my "surprising fairness," which was gratifying, and even financial journals have given it good reviews. In fact, the only bad reviews I've come across have been the occasional civilian on Goodreads and Amazon, and I haven't found their objections compelling. But feel free to check them out; your mileage may vary. (You can sort for those that gave one or two stars.)

Anyway, thanks for your interest! I'm still kind of amazed that anyone reads my strange book.


Thanks for the clarifications! I must say that I hadn't quite expected an answer from the author :)

I haven't checked the webpage yet (and thus not noticed your references), but I'll get around it. But I have seen the (1- and 2- star) reviews on Goodreads, and found them a bit lacking, which is why I came here to ask around.
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#8  Postby economixcomix » Oct 02, 2013 7:04 pm

LorenMichael:

> To me, if a subject is too big for one book to do it justice, it seems better to make it a series.

Well, I could easily have written a book on Smith, one on Malthus, one on Ricardo, and so on (in fact, it would have been easier than trying to cut everything down into one book), but the whole point for me was to provide an accessible introduction for people who find the subject intimidating. A series would be intimidating, even if it was in comics form.
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#9  Postby Loren Michael » Oct 05, 2013 10:40 am

That's fair. I suppose I shouldn't be down on you for doing something that as far as I can tell hasn't really been done before (although I do wonder if the Koreans have gotten around to it). I hope you'll take this as me saying that I really just want more of what you're doing.

Given that economics isn't really particularly linear, I wonder if it wouldn't be better in a kind of choose-your-own-adventure form. I haven't seem what Scott McCloud has been up to lately, but if you're interested in tackling odd subjects (and by all means please go on) you might check out some of his comic innovations if you haven't already.

Better yet, there should be an app. New econ papers could be integrated as inn-app purchases...

I've said too much. I have some calls to make.

Maybe you should just abandon this field I don't think it's for you.
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#10  Postby Ihavenofingerprints » Oct 05, 2013 12:40 pm

economixcomix wrote:LorenMichael:

> To me, if a subject is too big for one book to do it justice, it seems better to make it a series.

Well, I could easily have written a book on Smith, one on Malthus, one on Ricardo, and so on (in fact, it would have been easier than trying to cut everything down into one book), but the whole point for me was to provide an accessible introduction for people who find the subject intimidating. A series would be intimidating, even if it was in comics form.


What are some good books (preferably not massive), on historical advances in economics from those like Smith?
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#11  Postby GT2211 » Oct 07, 2013 3:18 am

Ihavenofingerprints wrote:
economixcomix wrote:LorenMichael:

> To me, if a subject is too big for one book to do it justice, it seems better to make it a series.

Well, I could easily have written a book on Smith, one on Malthus, one on Ricardo, and so on (in fact, it would have been easier than trying to cut everything down into one book), but the whole point for me was to provide an accessible introduction for people who find the subject intimidating. A series would be intimidating, even if it was in comics form.


What are some good books (preferably not massive), on historical advances in economics from those like Smith?

Something like this?
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#12  Postby economixcomix » Oct 08, 2013 6:43 pm

The Worldly Philosophers is definitely the top of the list. It was the first book I read, back in the early 90s, that let me understand that econ could be interesting. It includes all the cool *human* stuff I had take out for space, like Veblen's womanizing, Smith's colossal absentmindedness, Keynes's bisexuality, Marx's carbuncles. . . .

E. Ray Canterbery's A Brief History of Economics is another good source.
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#13  Postby Ihavenofingerprints » Oct 09, 2013 2:21 am

Cheers,
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#14  Postby Boyle » Oct 12, 2013 10:04 pm

Well, after reading that in two days I need to go out and buy like 30 books. Sweet.
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#15  Postby Skyforger » Oct 14, 2013 11:28 pm

economixcomix wrote:like, it broke my heart to have to leave out Thorstein Veblen)


The Theory of the Leisure Class is one of the most important books I have ever read. You should be ashamed for leaving him out. :naughty:
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#16  Postby economixcomix » Oct 18, 2013 5:44 pm

Skyforger wrote:
economixcomix wrote:like, it broke my heart to have to leave out Thorstein Veblen)


The Theory of the Leisure Class is one of the most important books I have ever read. You should be ashamed for leaving him out. :naughty:


Heh. I'd be happy to put him back in. Just tell me what I should take out instead. . . .
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#17  Postby Skyforger » Oct 24, 2013 6:37 pm

economixcomix wrote:

Heh. I'd be happy to put him back in. Just tell me what I should take out instead. . . .


Just pulling your leg, and wanted to show off that I've read it ;). :drunk:

Really powerful book. One of those books that once you read it, your perception of the entire world changes. The only problem with the book is that the language is difficult. It was a struggle to read a single sentence in that book, but once you figured out what the hell that sentence said it was like a constant stream of incredible insight after incredible insight.
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#18  Postby economixcomix » Oct 31, 2013 5:49 pm

Skyforger wrote:The only problem with the book is that the language is difficult. It was a struggle to read a single sentence in that book, but once you figured out what the hell that sentence said it was like a constant stream of incredible insight after incredible insight.


Yeah, Veblen loves his multisyllabic words. But that adds to the joy for me--talking about yappy lapdogs is one thing, but calling them "canine monstrosities" is just plain more fun.
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#19  Postby Skate » Nov 07, 2013 1:36 am

Thanks to Newmark for posting this, and thanks to Mr. Goodwin for writing it. Really good read! :clap:
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Re: Economix - fact or fiction?

#20  Postby economixcomix » Nov 12, 2013 7:59 pm

Skate wrote:Thanks to Newmark for posting this, and thanks to Mr. Goodwin for writing it. Really good read! :clap:


You're welcome! Glad you liked it. Tell your friends!
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