The Nature of Economies

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Vintage Books, 2001 - Business & Economics - 190 pages
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From the revered author of the classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities comes a new book that will revolutionize the way we think about the economy.

Starting from the premise that human beings "exist wholly within nature as part of natural order in every respect," Jane Jacobs has focused her singular eye on the natural world in order to discover the fundamental models for a vibrant economy. The lessons she discloses come from fields as diverse as ecology, evolution, and cell biology. Written in the form of a Platonic dialogue among five fictional characters, The Nature of Economies is as astonishingly accessible and clear as it is irrepressibly brilliant and wise–a groundbreaking yet humane study destined to become another world-altering classic.

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this is a brief but interesting analysis of our economic life in ecological terms. more precisely, jacobs uses ecological processes to suggest principles for the way that economics should be analyzed.
there are some interesting points made about what real economic viability constitutes. i really liked the point that was made about measuring imports and "stretching" factors rather than measuring exports and multipliers. that makes alot of sense.
another point that struck me was the concept of import shifting - looking at some of the major settlements in the world, all of them have at one time or another had to shift imports and the ones that have consistently performed this task successfully (new york, london, etc.) are the ones that maybe have figured out something to do with economics that other settlements have not.
another wonderful point was a point made about altruism - and how researchers have been scratching their heads trying to determine how altruism is an evolutionary advantage. thankfully, women provide the answer noting that childbirth is still very risky (especially before the level of healthcare we have today) and inherently an act of altruism.

The nature of economies

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From the author of the classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities: five friends discuss economics over coffee. Read full review



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About the author (2001)

Jane Jacobs was the legendary author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, a work that has never gone out of print and that has transformed the disciplines of urban planning and city architecture. Her other major works include The Economy of Cities, Systems of Survival, The Nature of Economies and Dark Age Ahead. She died in 2006.

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