Monday, January 6, 2014

God and Economics: The Poverty of Nations

The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution. By Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway. 2013. 400pp. (List price $30.00 Print | $23.99 Kindle | $19.98 Audio)

5 out of 5 stars
In 1776 Adam Smith published the revolutionary book An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations, and now, almost 250 years later, comes Grudem and Asmus’s work on The Poverty of Nations. How does a nation rise out of poverty? How does a nation pull out of recession? How does a nation maintain economic growth? The authors hope that their 78 factors that contribute towards sustained economic growth, not only in poor countries, but wealthy ones as well. This is not a short book. It is a textbook on macroeconomics from a Christian perspective, likely intended to be required reading for Christian institutions of secondary education.

Content-wise, this book covers a host of issues affecting poverty and wealth at the national level—economic systems, politics, laws, cultural values, etc. The authors make a strong case for free market systems, but also emphasize the importance of government provision for defense, justice, and freedom, so they are not promoting a “market knows best” libertarian worldview that believes there is no or little role for government in society. In a book this size on this topic, there are plenty of opportunities for disagreement over this or that point, but that shows the comprehensive nature of the work and its value as a teaching tool.

The audio version of this book is well narrated by Ray Porter, who has narrated other works that I’ve enjoyed (The Chiveis Trilogy, Bloodlines). Unfortunately, the audio format eliminates footnotes and other bibliographic information that is most useful to students, but it is still an enjoyable listening experience, especially when the authors point to historical examples and cultural values. I’d definitely recommend it as an introductory resource on economics, but if you’re looking for something on poverty at a micro level, When Helping Hurts is also a good resource.

I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of providing a review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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