Economics, Wealth and Poverty: A Brief Bibliography

Since I have been writing a bit on economics in general and foreign aid in particular of late, and since I am often asked for book recommendations, it seemed appropriate at this time to offer a very brief selection of works I have found helpful here. There are of course zillions of books available on economics, wealth and poverty, and related issues.

The volumes I am recommending are of necessity a very narrow subset of all the works available. The three main parameters I will adopt here are these: they are mainly Christian titles; they are mainly somewhat recent titles; and they are mainly those volumes defending the free market approach to economics and political economy.

I offer this admittedly very narrow range of titles for several reasons: to keep this bibliography brief, and to offer books I more or less feel myself in agreement with. They reflect my personal view of these matters in other words. Those who don’t like my position here will not be all that happy then with my choices here.

I am certainly aware of plenty of titles which take different approaches. But my purpose here is not to just offer a general pro and con listing. When people ask me about what books I would recommend on economics, these are the sorts of titles I would recommend.

When I was a young lefty I of course preferred books from quite differing points of view on economics. But I have shifted in my political and economic views over the years. As a reflection of that, in 1990 I published a book entitled Modern Conservative Thought.

That was an annotated bibliography of over 700 volumes, some 200 of which were on economics and political economy. So what I offer here is just a very brief representation of my own library and what I might have recommended had space permitted.

These 50 or so titles are only a few of the many books which could be mentioned. But they would make for a good start for those wanting to proceed further along these lines.

General Christian Works

Baker, David, Tight Fists or Open Hands? Wealth and Poverty in Old Testament Law. Eerdmans, 2009.
Blomberg, Craig, Neither Poverty Nor Riches. Apollos, 1999.
Claar, Victor and Robin Klay, Economics in Christian Perspective. InterVarsity Press, 2007.
Clouse, Robert G., ed., Wealth and Poverty: Four Christian Views on Economics. InterVarsity Press, 1984.
Corbett, Steve and Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts. Moody Press, 2009, 2012.
Gushee, David, ed., Toward a Just and Caring Society: Christian Responses to Poverty in America. Baker, 1999.
Holman, Susan, ed., Wealth and Poverty in Early Church and Society. Baker, 2008.
Schneider, John, Godly Materialism. IVP, 1994.
Stackhouse, Max, et. al. eds., On Moral Business: Classical and Contemporary Resources for Ethics in Economic Life. Eerdmans, 1995.
Wheeler, Sondra, Wealth As Peril and Obligation: The New Testament on Possessions. Eerdmans, 1995.
Witherington, Ben, Jesus and Money. Brazos Press, 2010.

Pro Free Market Christian Works

Beisner, E. Calvin, Prosperity and Poverty: The Compassionate Use of Resources in a World of Scarcity. Crossway Books, 1988.
Chilton, David, Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators. Institute for Christian Economics, 1981, 1985.
Davis, John Jefferson, Your Wealth in God’s World: Does the Bible Support the Free Market? Presbyterian and Reformed, 1984.
Griffiths, Brian, The Creation of Wealth: A Christian’s Case for Capitalism. InterVarsity Press, 1984.
Griffiths, Brian, Morality and the Marketplace. Hodder and Stoughton, 1982.
Grudem, Wayne, Business for the Glory of God. Crossway, 2003.
Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus, The Poverty of Nations. Crossway, 2013.
Hore-Lacy, Ian, Creating Common Wealth. Albatross Books, 1985.
Lindsell, Harold, Free Enterprise: A Judeo-Christian Defense. Tyndale House, 1982.
Nash, Ronald, Poverty and Wealth: The Christian Debate Over Capitalism. Crossway Books, 1986.
Nash, Ronald, Social Justice and the Christian Church. Mott Media, 1983.
Novak, Michael, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. Simon & Schuster, 1982.
Novak, Michael, The Universal Hunger for Liberty. Basic Books, 2004.
Richards, Jay, Money, Greed, and God. HarperOne, 2010.
Schaeffer, Franky, ed., Is Capitalism Christian? Crossway Books, 1985.
Siroco, Robert, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy. Regnery, 2012.

Other Pro Free Market Works

Bauer, P.T., Equality, the Third World, and Economic Delusion. Harvard University Press, 1981.
Berger, Peter, The Capitalist Revolution. Basic Books, 1986.
Bhagwati, Jagdish, In Defense of Globalization. Oxford University Press, 2004.
Brookes, Warren, The Economy in Mind. Universe Books, 1982.
Brooks, Arthur, The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future. Basic Books, 2010.
Crozier, Brian and Arthur Seldon, Socialism: The Grand Delusion. Universe Books, 1986.
De Soto, Hernando, The Mystery of Capital. Basic Books, 2000.
De Soto, Hernando, The Other Path. Harper and Row, 1989.
Friedman, Milton, Capitalism and Freedom. University of Chicago Press, 1962.
Friedman, Milton and Rose Friedman, Free To Choose. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980.
Gilder, George, Wealth and Poverty. Basic Books, 1981.
Hayek, Friedrich, The Road To Serfdom. University of Chicago Press, 1944.
Kristol, Irving, Two Cheers For Capitalism. New American Library, 1978.
Lott, John, Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don’t. Regnery, 2007.
Mises, Ludwig von, Human Action. Yale University Press, 1949.
Murphy, Robert, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism. Regnery, 2007.
Murray, Charles, Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980. Basic Books, 1984.
Sowell, Thomas, Basic Economics. Basic Books, 2003.
Sowell, Thomas, Knowledge and Decisions. Basic Books, 1980.
Sowell, Thomas, Markets and Minorities. Basic Books, 1981.
Stiglitz, Joseph, Globalization and its Discontents. W.W. Norton, 2003.
Voegeli, William, Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State. Encounter Books, 2010.
Wolf, Martin, Why Globalization Works. Yale University Press, 2004.

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6 Replies to “Economics, Wealth and Poverty: A Brief Bibliography”

  1. Hi Bill, In addition to the texts you cite. I can also recommend listening to certain American talk radio (they allow me to both listen and continue making my living). One of my favorites is ‘Dennis Prager’s’ radio show. (I can also recommend ‘Prager University’ for those interested in undoing the damage done by university education.)

    For instance,in a recent broadcast of Prager’s radio show a guest economist pointed out that there is too much focus on what wealth (rich countries) must re-distribute to poor counties (poor being the normal historical state of most countries) and insufficient focus on why rich countries are rich. And why once poor countries like Korea and Japan are now rich. The guest economist went on to elaborate the critical importance of the Judeo -Christian ethic in making rich countries rich and demonstrated how the absence of this ethic explains why poor countries remain poor and why some demographic groups in rich countries remained poor.

    Regretably most people wont take or dont have the time or desire to read but I hope that some will access internet radio shows like Prager’s to inform themselves.

    Paul Conelly

  2. Nina Munk’s first hand investigation into Jeffrey Sachs’ experiments with villages receiving aid seems like another eye opener.

    “With impressive persistence, unflagging empathy and journalistic derring-do, Ms. Munk returns over a five-year period to Dertu and one other village to document the project’s progress. She seems to care about the ground truth a good deal more than does her subject, who is immune to doubt and enraged by criticism. Ms. Munk shows him browbeating skeptical experts, and when she cites critiques of his work by fellow economists, Mr. Sachs shoots back: “I don’t think they’re on target, I don’t think they’re good science, and don’t think they’re a propos.”

    A planned livestock market collapsed a few months after it opened, in part because Somali herders don’t like parting with their camels, which they regard as emblems of status and sources of security, just as they don’t like wasting their bed nets on children. They aren’t rational actors by the standards of Western economists. Dertu was supposed to have become self-sufficient after five years in the Millennium Village incubator, but it remained helpless. What’s more, the admirable Mr. Mohamed was forced out, and the villagers were “despondent,” Ms. Munk says.”

    Damien Spillane

  3. An Economic Commentary on the Bible: Genesis to Revelation
    Gary North
    “This is my 31-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible. It totals about 8,550 pages, not counting four separate appendix volumes. I began writing this series in early 1973. I completed it in August 2012.”
    Phil Ellery

  4. Thanks Bill. I just took receipt yesterday of Grudem and Asmus’s book ‘The Poverty of Nations’ and look forward both to reading it but applying it as well through interacting with other like-minded (or not) Christians (or not). Grudem’s ‘Politics According to the Bible’ covers a lot of what I expect him to say, but in much briefer form. I’m glad to see the fr phil has already put you and your readers on to the analysis that Gary North has also done in this area of the application of the Bible to economics.

    Steve Swartz

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