Review “Making Sense Out of Dollars” by Brian Shellabarger

This is a very good, simple, short economics tutorial. There are a number of simple examples that will help a general reader understand supply and demand, the value of money, inflation, debt, trade deficits, and bubble economics. The author writes primarily about the US economy from a conservative perspective. Here are a couple of passages I found useful:

“Now that we know what inflation actually is, we should probably spend a few minutes at least trying to understand what causes it. Make sure you’re sitting down before I give you the answer to this one, because you’re not going to believe it…….   Are you ready?  The answer is:  We don’t really know. ….
There are a few things, however, that we know for sure will cause inflation.  We’ll talk about two of the big ones:  printing money and trade deficits.”

“Hyperinflation is a huge problem because of what we talked about above – inflation is only okay if you can keep wages in-check with the increasing prices of goods. If hyperinflation is occurring, this is impossible, and resources, such as gasoline or food, become very scarce, or very expensive (usually both).”

The author is a realist; not an alarmist. He also isn’t trying to preach a particular set of answers. His closing section was my favorite:

“I would encourage you to always ask yourself the question of “why” when someone in power makes a decision. Why are they doing this? Who will benefit? Are there other possible motivations they may not be talking about? If you don’t understand something, often times asking yourself these questions will lead you to an answer.”

There are some problems with this book. I read the Kindle version and the graphics were quite difficult to read. Also, this book was written in 2010 and I read it in 2021 so some of the material is dated. It would be great to see a revised copy.  Overall, I would still highly recommend “Making Sense Out of Dollars” to readers who are trying to make sense of economics in 2021. There’s a lot of complexity in the US economy but the fundamental issues discussed by author Brian Shellabarger are still highly relevant.

3 thoughts on “Review “Making Sense Out of Dollars” by Brian Shellabarger

  1. Hi John,

    I don’t know what device you are using to read your Kindle books, but on my IPAD I can usually tap on a picture or other graphic and it then allows me to blow it up with clarity.

    Sounds like an interesting book.


    Sent from my iPad



  2. Duncan – thanks for the hint, I gave it a try using the Kindle app on my iPad, it was still low resolution in a few cases. BTW – I am writing reviews more after finishing “How to Read a Book” by Adler. Thanks for the recommendation of that book.


  3. Sent from my iPad

    Begin forwarded message:

    > From: J Peterson > Date: May 15, 2022 at 2:04:21 PM EDT > To: > Subject: Very interesting read > >  > > > > > Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S8+, an AT&T 5G Evolution capable smartphone > > > >


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