Favorite Business Books, From ‘Invisible Hand’ to ‘Ugly Beauty’

The cover jacket of "Beyond the Invisible Hand: Groundwork for a New Economics" by Kaushik Basu. Source: Princeton University Press via Bloomberg

With the world’s balance of economic power shifting, we’re often asked to recommend books that put the upheaval in context. Here’s a list of our 10 favorite titles on markets and economics so far this year.

“Beyond the Invisible Hand” by Kaushik Basu. India’s chief economic adviser explores the dark side of Adam Smith’s invisible hand.

Exorbitant Privilege” by Barry Eichengreen (Oxford). A brisk primer on the dollar’s role as the dominant international currency.

“The Futures” by Emily Lambert (Basic). A bouncy historical jaunt through Chicago’s trading pits.

“How the West Was Lost” by Dambisa Moyo (Allen Lane/ Farrar, Straus & Giroux). A reasoned look at how the world’s most-advanced nations are squandering their economic lead.

“The New Lombard Street” by Perry Mehrling (Princeton). A cogent analysis of how the financial crisis turned the Federal Reserve into America’s “dealer of last resort.”

“The Price of Everything” by Eduardo Porter (Portfolio/ Heinemann). An energetic tour of how prices work, from cheap sperm to $4,731 printer ink.

“Punching Out” by Paul Clemens (Doubleday). A blackly comic journal of what happens after a U.S. factory shuts down.

“Red Capitalism” by Carl E. Walter and Fraser J.T. Howie (Wiley). An eye-opening look at how Communist Party bosses control China’s economy.

“Spousonomics” by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson (Random House/Bantam). A geeky guide to finding marital bliss through economics.

“Ugly Beauty” by Ruth Brandon (Harper). An incisive history of cosmetics tycoon Helena Rubinstein and Eugene Schueller, the founder of L’Oreal SA.

(James Pressley is a book critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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