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July 6, 2018
Today I thought I would make a list of core readings with a “supply side” theme. I consider the “supply side” movement, of which I am a part, to be the most significant development in economics since 1970. But, it is not very well understood. This is not an exhaustive list — there are a few other books I could add, but decided to leave them off for now. Yes, you have to read these if you are serious. So, here’s the list:
The Way the World Works (1978), by Jude Wanniski. One of the first, and best, explications of the “supply side” vision, arising from personal discussions among the initial group of friends that included Arthur Laffer and Robert Mundell.
Reaganomics (1981), by Bruce Bartlett. A nice filling out of some of the initial ideas of that time.
The Flat Tax (1985), by Alvin Rabushka and Robert Hall. There’s more to the “flat tax” than just having one rate.
The Seven Fat Years (1992), by Robert Bartley. Bartley was the head of the Wall Street Journal‘s op-ed page, Wanniski’s employer, and a regular attendee of the meetings at Michael’s restaurant in lower Manhattan with Laffer and Mundell. Here he looks back at Reaganomics’ splendid track record.
For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization (1993), by Charles Adams. A tax lawyer takes up the theme of taxation throughout history. A masterpiece.
The Flat Tax Revolution (2005), by Steve Forbes. Forbes’ presidential campaigns in 1996 and 2000 helped make the “flat tax” a popular idea. Not much happened in the U.S., but the Flat Tax Revolution bloomed in Eastern Europe and worldwide, where more than thirty governments implemented what amounted to Forbes’ blueprint.
Gold: The Once and Future Money (2007), by Nathan Lewis. As you can see from this book list, the “other half of the supply side revolution” got almost no attention during this whole time period. It had always been part of the vision of people like Laffer, Wanniski, Kemp and Reagan.
The End of Prosperity (2008), by Arthur Laffer, Steve Moore and Peter Tanous. Superb updating of supply-side principles, and also their real-world results up to 2008. Great coverage of the 1990s and the Bush tax cuts of 2002-2003.
The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression (2008), by Amity Shlaes. Not overtly “supply side,” but this new history focuses on government policy and its predictable consequences. What, the Great Depression didn’t “just happen”?
Econoclasts (2009), by Brian Domitrovic. Splendid history of the supply-siders and how they saved the world economy, especially 1970-1990.
The Return To Prosperity (2010), by Arthur Laffer and Steve Moore. Laffer and Moore bring more of their extraordinary wisdom and experience regarding economic matters.
Fixing the Dollar Now (2011), by Judy Shelton. A short book from one of our best gold standard advocates.
Gold: The Monetary Polaris (2013), by Nathan Lewis. The “how-to” book on gold standard systems.
The Growth Experiment Revisited (2013), by Larry Lindsey. An updating of The Growth Experiment (1990), with lots of U.S.-centric info.
Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the World Economy, and What We Can Do About It (2014), by Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames. Forbes is one of our best monetary thinkers. Although the dollar didn’t collapse, it did lose an enormous amount of value vs. gold from 2001-2011. Remember that in 2013-14, the Federal Reserve was printing money (“quantitative easing”) in a manner that had never been seen before in U.S. history.
An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of States: How Taxes, Energy, and Worker Freedom Change Everything (2014), by Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore, Rex A. Sinquefield and Travis H. Brown. Laffer and Moore at it again with another excellent study of differences in state economic policy, especially tax policy. The degree of differences between state outcomes was quite an eye-opener.
The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself (2015), by James Grant. I wouldn’t quite say that the crash “cured itself” — rather, Warren Harding brushed away Woodrow Wilson’s socialistic policies with a Reagan-esque platform of Low Taxes and Stable Money. As with The Forgotten Man, an excellent historical account with a focus on government policy, from an economic sophisticate.
Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code and Reforming the Fed Will Restore Hope and Prosperity (2015) by Steve Forbes. Supply-side principles updated to today’s challenges.
JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity (2016), by Lawrence Kudlow and Brian Domitrovic. Superlative historiography of the 1964 Kennedy income tax cut, and how its principles led directly to the Reagan tax cuts of the 1980s.
The Scandal of Money (2016), by George Gilder. An insightful explication of why Stable Money is necessary for rational economic calculation, using contemporary principles of information theory.
Gold: The Final Standard (2017), by Nathan Lewis. I take on all comers.