How to study economics

A friend recently asked me for some advice on how to improve his understanding of economics. I asked my favorite advisor CJ to take a shot at it. Here is what he wrote, for the record:

Each of us has a unique learning style, of course. Here is mine.

Learning economics better requires reading. But here is the rub: one could read disjointed stuff on the web all day long and still not understand what it is all about. In fact, reading too much on the subject which is more in the “news” category is detrimental to understanding. Even reading the Economist will not help one understand economics any more than reading a lot of hospital news will teach one much about medicine. Continue reading

The REGS Guarantees Poverty

The Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (REGS) has the word guarantee in it and whatever else it may or may not guarantee, it certainly guarantees greater overall poverty than would be the case without the REGS.

In brief, REGS does not increase the aggregate production of the economy, nor does it increase productive capacity; it merely redistributes incomes by giving money to those in the rural areas. The first order effect of this diversion of resources is that other projects which have the potential to increase production and increase productive capacity do not get done; that is, the opportunity cost of the REGS is very high. The second order effects are increased public corruption, making the population much more dependent, increasing population, etc. This means in the future, the economy will produce much less than it would have otherwise produced and thus more people would face poverty as a result of the REGS .The rest of this essay is an elaboration of this argument. Continue reading