I would like to introduce you all to Paul McDonnald. Below you will find my interview with the economics instructor who was willing to provide his thoughts on the current economic situation and tell us about his current novel on economic terrorism!
RHP: When you talk to people about economics, what are they generally most confused about?
PM: I think people who took just an introductory course in college have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. They’ve been taught a few “trees” like supply and demand graphs, but don’t really have a good grasp of the “forest,” the overall economy. It seems to me intro courses ought to give students a better overview of the “forest” before teaching the “trees.” That’s what I try to do in the novel.
RHP: If you could only teach us 3 lessons about economics, what would they be?
PM: The value of entrepreneurialism would be one. That is the engine that drives a market economy. One of the problems I think we face is that with big corporations becoming so dominant over mom-and-pop type businesses (two!), people become entirely focused on finding jobs with companies or the government instead of going into business for themselves. The economy becomes sort of bureaucratized, and innovation suffers (three!). They say Greece used to be an extraordinarily entrepreneurial country. But an expensive public sector financed by government debt got the younger generation used to eating at the government trough, so to speak. Now it’s empty and they don’t know what to do but protest. Some people say you can’t give yourself a job, but in a society geared to entrepreneurialism you can do just that!
RHP: Although your book (The Economics of Ego Surplus) is fiction, it incorporates many topics that someone would learn in an economics course. Considering you were an economics instructor, you know that this isn’t a very glamorous topic for many people. Are you able to convince people that this novel makes economics exciting?
PM: It’s not easy but I seem to be making a little progress, one reader at a time!
RHP: Did you learn anything new about the topic while writing the book or was this pretty routine business for you?
PM: The economics is very basic, 101-level stuff. But the conclusion the protagonist, Kyle Linwood, comes to at the end is that all the different schools of thought in economics (Keynesian, Marxist, neoclassical, etc.) share a common flaw. This is an idea that came to me in the process of writing the novel.
RHP: Is it possible to create an economy that thrives consistently long term or will there always be ups and downs?
PM: I think the ups and downs of a market economy originate in people’s psychological tendency to get too excited when things are going well and too pessimistic when things are going poorly. I don’t see much that economists can do to end that. But maybe psychologists can figure something out!
RHP: What are your thoughts on the use of quantitative easing to stimulate the economy?
PM: When the Fed “eases” it basically increases liquidity in the financial system, which lowers interest rates. It can be helpful, but ultimately it only works if people respond by changing their behavior. All the easing in the world won’t make businesses expand and hire if they don’t feel confident enough to do it. That’s what the famous economist Keynes called “animal spirits.”
RHP: Would you propose any solutions for the current economic situation?
PM: I would like to see policies that promote smaller businesses. It seems like more and more we are faced with the choice of big government from the Democratic Party or big corporations from the Republican Party. I’d like to see a third way that focuses on markets, but favors small, entrepreneurial businesses at the expense of larger corporate ones.
RHP: What else would you like for us to know about you here at Reading Has Purpose?
PM: That the economics in the novel is pretty easy and painless. I tried to focus on keeping the story fun and engaging. I hope your readers will take a look. A sample of the novel can be downloaded at http://starvinganalyst.com/tees Thanks for having me!
Paul McDonnold is a writer whose work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, The Baltimore Sun, Texas Highways magazine and Glenn Beck’s Fusion magazine. He has taught economics courses at the University of North Texas, the University of Delaware and North Lake College in Irving, Texas. He lives in southwest Arkansas and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Paul for providing a copy of his book for the giveaway!
GIVEAWAY- The Economics of Ego Surplus
Rules for Entry
Just leave a comment
I will announce one random winner on Mon, Nov 21, 2011. The winner will need to send your mailing address to: Shannon@readinghaspurpose.com.
I have not read this book and I can not vouch for its contents.