Old books
It was interesting to see David Cameron’s library in the newspapers yesterday. There are some good choices there. Kynaston’s book on the austerity years after the war is excellent, for example.

Nice, too, to see the IEA’s manifesto Towards a Liberal Utopia. Even nicer to see it sticking out as if it has recently been read. It has some great ideas for Cameron’s second term (abolishing compulsory schooling and the state licensing of medical practitioners come to mind), but there is some serious material for his first term too.

John Blundell’s chapter on policing could make serious inroads into crime and civil disorder without costing a penny – it is a localist agenda too (very Cameronite). And, in these difficult times, real political leadership is required in making a liberal case for free trade at home and abroad. Cameron should take this agenda into the EU and further afield with relish.

With protectionist clouds gathering in the US and over the Channel, the world – and particularly the poor in the world – needs a UK prime minister who will make the economic, political and moral case for free trade and globalisation.

Philip Booth 154x154

Academic and Research Director, IEA

Philip Booth is Academic and Research Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs and Professor of Finance, Public Policy and Ethics at St. Mary's University, Twickenham. From 2002-2015 he was Professor of Insurance and Risk Management at Cass Business School. Previously, Philip Booth worked for the Bank of England as an advisor on financial stability issues and he was also Associate Dean of Cass Business School and held various other academic positions at City University. He has written widely, including a number of books, on investment, finance, social insurance and pensions as well as on the relationship between Catholic social teaching and economics. He is Deputy Editor of Economic Affairs and on the editorial boards of various other academic journals. Philip is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and an honorary member of the Society of Actuaries of Poland. He has previously worked in the investment department of Axa Equity and Law and was been involved in a number of projects to help develop actuarial professions and actuarial, finance and investment professional teaching programmes in Central and Eastern Europe. Philip has a BA in Economics from the University of Durham and a PhD from City University.

26 thoughts on “What Cameron is reading”

  1. Posted 13/01/2009 at 19:41 | Permalink

    Just because certain books are on a shelf in David Cameron’s house does not mean he has read them. He may enjoy buying books even more than he enjoys reading them.

    I wonder if he possesses a copy of W.H. Hutt’s ‘The Theory of Idle Resources’. I believe this book is not well enough known. Hutt points out that if you have a ’spare’ (or ‘idle’) shirt in a drawer, that does not mean it serves no useful purpose.

    I purchase copies of accounting standards as they are issued, not because I’m unable to contain my impatience to discover what gems of English prose they contain, but (as with other books of reference) in case I may need to consult them at some future date. Often I don’t.

  2. Posted 13/01/2009 at 19:41 | Permalink

    Just because certain books are on a shelf in David Cameron’s house does not mean he has read them. He may enjoy buying books even more than he enjoys reading them.

    I wonder if he possesses a copy of W.H. Hutt’s ‘The Theory of Idle Resources’. I believe this book is not well enough known. Hutt points out that if you have a ’spare’ (or ‘idle’) shirt in a drawer, that does not mean it serves no useful purpose.

    I purchase copies of accounting standards as they are issued, not because I’m unable to contain my impatience to discover what gems of English prose they contain, but (as with other books of reference) in case I may need to consult them at some future date. Often I don’t.

  3. Posted 14/01/2009 at 14:58 | Permalink

    Hi,

    Well, at least he has them on the shelf–as opposed to many others, who don’t even know what the literature is about.

    Personally? I think hard back an paper back books–especially on current affairs– serves more the author (and rightfully so) than it does the reader. Books on the shelf are a little over rated, when you can get electronic copies of anything, now.

    I think we can get just as much information in these current affairs and political economy books (which are great for pooling many ideas in one opus), from other sources like journals and magazines and, for a new age model, blogs and websites, as well.

    JMO!

    Yourihttp://globalviewtoday.blogspot.com

  4. Posted 14/01/2009 at 14:58 | Permalink

    Hi,

    Well, at least he has them on the shelf–as opposed to many others, who don’t even know what the literature is about.

    Personally? I think hard back an paper back books–especially on current affairs– serves more the author (and rightfully so) than it does the reader. Books on the shelf are a little over rated, when you can get electronic copies of anything, now.

    I think we can get just as much information in these current affairs and political economy books (which are great for pooling many ideas in one opus), from other sources like journals and magazines and, for a new age model, blogs and websites, as well.

    JMO!

    Yourihttp://globalviewtoday.blogspot.com

  5. Posted 14/01/2009 at 16:13 | Permalink

    One of the problems of modern academic life is that we are discouraged from writing books. instead we are told to publish articles or use new media. Yet when a fellow public policy academic and myself had a discussion about the important literature in our discipline over the last 10 years all the items we settled on were books, not journal articles and certainly not on-line material. Of the many virtues of the IEA by no means least is their willingness to publish monographs. I still reference IEA material from the 1980s and confidently expect my IEA monograph published in 2006 to be cited long into the future!

  6. Posted 14/01/2009 at 16:13 | Permalink

    One of the problems of modern academic life is that we are discouraged from writing books. instead we are told to publish articles or use new media. Yet when a fellow public policy academic and myself had a discussion about the important literature in our discipline over the last 10 years all the items we settled on were books, not journal articles and certainly not on-line material. Of the many virtues of the IEA by no means least is their willingness to publish monographs. I still reference IEA material from the 1980s and confidently expect my IEA monograph published in 2006 to be cited long into the future!

  7. Posted 14/01/2009 at 17:15 | Permalink

    Peter

    In some disciplines – politics for example – I believe that books are still all important. More generally, scholarship has been downgraded at the expense of research in universities.

  8. Posted 14/01/2009 at 17:15 | Permalink

    Peter

    In some disciplines – politics for example – I believe that books are still all important. More generally, scholarship has been downgraded at the expense of research in universities.

  9. Posted 14/01/2009 at 18:55 | Permalink

    I think I am enthused with Cameron’s brand of Conservatism. I suspect he is trying to move the debate away from the sort of Conservatism there was in the ’80s under Mrs Thatcher.

    I am certainly keen on getting some of the books on his shelf so that one can continue, to study and research into the spheres of economic agenda the world is moving into or ought to be moving into. I am as a matter of principle sympathethic to the themes of globalisation as I believe we live in a global village.

  10. Posted 14/01/2009 at 18:55 | Permalink

    I think I am enthused with Cameron’s brand of Conservatism. I suspect he is trying to move the debate away from the sort of Conservatism there was in the ’80s under Mrs Thatcher.

    I am certainly keen on getting some of the books on his shelf so that one can continue, to study and research into the spheres of economic agenda the world is moving into or ought to be moving into. I am as a matter of principle sympathethic to the themes of globalisation as I believe we live in a global village.

  11. Posted 14/01/2009 at 21:23 | Permalink

    In the light of the dramatic expansion of the role of the state during the last decade, I very much hope David Cameron owns a copy of The Road to Serfdom and has read it from cover to cover.

  12. Posted 14/01/2009 at 21:23 | Permalink

    In the light of the dramatic expansion of the role of the state during the last decade, I very much hope David Cameron owns a copy of The Road to Serfdom and has read it from cover to cover.

  13. Posted 15/01/2009 at 16:23 | Permalink

    Hi Peter and Phillip,

    A continual blog on relevant issues by a Dani Rodrik or Jonathan Hopkin, is more valuable, now, than is a 100 year old text.

    While we have to grasp the basic literature of previous authors. To feel that it “should”–especially with current affairs and politics– relate to the dynamics of today, would leave you short handed in comprehending solutions for the now.

    However, my suggestion actually agrees with the first poster in his first sentence, ironic enough!

    Moreover, author’s have electronic records and revisions, are up to the minute and reading patterns, or, “means to comprehension”, have changed.

    Best,http://globalviewtoday.blogspot.com

  14. Posted 15/01/2009 at 16:23 | Permalink

    Hi Peter and Phillip,

    A continual blog on relevant issues by a Dani Rodrik or Jonathan Hopkin, is more valuable, now, than is a 100 year old text.

    While we have to grasp the basic literature of previous authors. To feel that it “should”–especially with current affairs and politics– relate to the dynamics of today, would leave you short handed in comprehending solutions for the now.

    However, my suggestion actually agrees with the first poster in his first sentence, ironic enough!

    Moreover, author’s have electronic records and revisions, are up to the minute and reading patterns, or, “means to comprehension”, have changed.

    Best,http://globalviewtoday.blogspot.com

  15. Posted 15/01/2009 at 17:48 | Permalink

    I’m curious to know at what age Yuri thinks a text loses its relevance? At one century, one decade, one year, one month, one week or one day? The Road to Serfdom is a mere 65 years old and continues to be read because it still offers what feel like fresh insights into contemporary problems.

    Master thinkers like Hayek will not lose their validity as long as the human condition remains one in which individuals with different ends compete for the use of scarce resources in the context of a profound division of labour and knowledge where the future must be uncertain and unknowable.

  16. Posted 15/01/2009 at 17:48 | Permalink

    I’m curious to know at what age Yuri thinks a text loses its relevance? At one century, one decade, one year, one month, one week or one day? The Road to Serfdom is a mere 65 years old and continues to be read because it still offers what feel like fresh insights into contemporary problems.

    Master thinkers like Hayek will not lose their validity as long as the human condition remains one in which individuals with different ends compete for the use of scarce resources in the context of a profound division of labour and knowledge where the future must be uncertain and unknowable.

  17. Posted 15/01/2009 at 18:44 | Permalink

    and people researching the relationship between the market economy and religion (which Youri may or may not believe is a waste of time, but others not) are increasingly looking at Thomist texts, together with the 16th century Spanish thinkers and the classical economists (both French and English) and feel that the 200 years between then and now led to quite a few dead ends.

  18. Posted 15/01/2009 at 18:44 | Permalink

    and people researching the relationship between the market economy and religion (which Youri may or may not believe is a waste of time, but others not) are increasingly looking at Thomist texts, together with the 16th century Spanish thinkers and the classical economists (both French and English) and feel that the 200 years between then and now led to quite a few dead ends.

  19. Posted 15/01/2009 at 22:43 | Permalink

    Youri,

    The status of a book can often be determined by the fact that it is 65, 100, or 300 years, and still being read now. Its arguments have been tested and yet we still return to them. The fact that a piece of writing is contemporary or ‘up to the minute’ is not a sign of quality. Indeed the biggest problem with the web (the IEA blog excepted, of course) is the lack of quality control.

    And talking of old books, may I suggest to Mr Cameron Bernard de Mandeville’s ‘Fable of the Bees’ (1728)for some lessons on how attempts by government to do the ‘right thing’ often turn out to be disastrous. Instead people should be left to fulfil their own interests as they think best.

  20. Posted 15/01/2009 at 22:43 | Permalink

    Youri,

    The status of a book can often be determined by the fact that it is 65, 100, or 300 years, and still being read now. Its arguments have been tested and yet we still return to them. The fact that a piece of writing is contemporary or ‘up to the minute’ is not a sign of quality. Indeed the biggest problem with the web (the IEA blog excepted, of course) is the lack of quality control.

    And talking of old books, may I suggest to Mr Cameron Bernard de Mandeville’s ‘Fable of the Bees’ (1728)for some lessons on how attempts by government to do the ‘right thing’ often turn out to be disastrous. Instead people should be left to fulfil their own interests as they think best.

  21. Posted 16/01/2009 at 13:45 | Permalink

    Hi all,

    I like Polanyi and Schumpeter. I also think “The Wealth of Nations”, is the best book ever written. No time limit on it’s basics, at all.

    Due to advancement, however, you don’t need to “show” that you have those on the shelf- it’s just good to have read them.

    Also, contemporary authors, often use the texts of old as base context to their own literature– as I was/am heavily influenced by Smith and Ricardo. But, the nuance of current affairs, need not be held hard and fast, to any historic text, for us to appreciate the issues and solutions needed, now.

    Give us “some” credit!

    Perhaps I see it differently!

    Best,http://globalviewtoday.blogspot.com

  22. Posted 16/01/2009 at 13:45 | Permalink

    Hi all,

    I like Polanyi and Schumpeter. I also think “The Wealth of Nations”, is the best book ever written. No time limit on it’s basics, at all.

    Due to advancement, however, you don’t need to “show” that you have those on the shelf- it’s just good to have read them.

    Also, contemporary authors, often use the texts of old as base context to their own literature– as I was/am heavily influenced by Smith and Ricardo. But, the nuance of current affairs, need not be held hard and fast, to any historic text, for us to appreciate the issues and solutions needed, now.

    Give us “some” credit!

    Perhaps I see it differently!

    Best,http://globalviewtoday.blogspot.com

  23. Posted 16/01/2009 at 14:07 | Permalink

    well I certainly take the general point that just having a load of classical (and classic) literature on your shelves shows nothing about whether one can get to grips with today’s economic problems. With regard to Towards a Liberal Utopia, I hope David Cameron has read it and learned something and that he reads other IEA monographs and learns from them too.

  24. Posted 16/01/2009 at 14:07 | Permalink

    well I certainly take the general point that just having a load of classical (and classic) literature on your shelves shows nothing about whether one can get to grips with today’s economic problems. With regard to Towards a Liberal Utopia, I hope David Cameron has read it and learned something and that he reads other IEA monographs and learns from them too.

  25. Posted 16/01/2009 at 15:18 | Permalink

    Hi Phil,

    Is this a Modus Vivendi, of sorts, between intellectuals? A rara avis, indeed!

    Pax Vobiscum!

    Youri

    http://globalviewtoday.blogspot.com

  26. Posted 16/01/2009 at 15:18 | Permalink

    Hi Phil,

    Is this a Modus Vivendi, of sorts, between intellectuals? A rara avis, indeed!

    Pax Vobiscum!

    Youri

    http://globalviewtoday.blogspot.com

Comments are closed.