The Best Christmas Gift Ideas for an Economist

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The Best Christmas Gift Ideas for an Economist

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The holiday season is coming and Christmas is just around the corner. If you want to avoid buying presents for the holidays in a panic, you had better get to planning the gifts you'll be giving.

If you have an economist in your life, but are struggling to come up with economics gift ideas, fear not. We're here with some fun ideas to help you find the best Christmas gifts for economists.

10 Best Christmas Gift Ideas for an Economist

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1. Buy an Economics Bestseller: Empathy Economics or Disorder

There is a rich history of books published about economics and by economists. Two economics bestsellers from 2022 that you might consider are Empathy Economics and Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century. The first is a biography of Janet Yellen, the first female secretary of the US Treasury and the first female chair of the US Federal Reserve.

In the second book, political economist Helen Thompson examines how energy economics and historic politics come together to affect the challenges facing western democracies today.

2. A subscription to The Economist

What better way to give an economist gifts than to help them keep up to date with the latest news via a subscription to The Economist, one of the world's top magazines. Covering business, finance, economics, science, technology and the arts, the magazine features in-depth reviews and reports as well as news. Subscriptions can be purchased for digital, print, or both, for whatever format your economist prefers.

  • UK Digital Edition: here
  • US/Intl Digital Edition: here
  • Australia/Asia Edition: here

3. Arbitrage or The Informant! on DVD

Two Hollywood films with economics themes, these are fun movies for specialists and everyone else too. Arbitrage stars Richard Gere as a hedge-fund magnate who has been cooking the books, who must go to extraordinary lengths to protect his secret after a chance accident. The Informant! stars Matt Damon as a corporate whistle-blower who reports his employer to the FBI for price fixing. Based on a true story, it's a funny and snappy movie about the ethics of big businesses.

4. A digital download of Too Big To Fail

This documentary covers the financial crisis of 2008, based on the book Too Big To Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System--and Themselves. Exploring the crisis from the point of view of the inside players as they try to prevent a global economic meltdown, this informative film will be of interest to everyone involved in finance. Frankly, it is reassuring to remind ourselves that not every person working in finance and big business is a greedy, self-interested maniac...

5. A Marx Mug

It's a statement, for sure, and it looks cool. Rock up to your next seminar on market economics with this Karl Marx mug. After all, you have nothing to lose but your value chains!

6. Board Games

Board games have experienced an increase in popularity in the past few years, and can make for great economics presents. Many innovative games include economic themes and have strategy elements that economists will enjoy sinking their teeth into. Some great options include:

  • Agricola – build and manage your farm’s resources better than everyone else
  • Viticulture – grow your winery more efficiently than others
  • Settlers of Catan – build your island economy faster than everyone else
  • Camel Up – progressively bet on the outcomes of a statistically zany horse race (but with camels!)
  • Wingspan – manage your resources wisely to attract exotic birds to your habitats, earning you more points than your competitors (and awakening your inner ornithologist!)
  • …and even A Game of Thrones: the Board Game – balance capturing territory with maintaining supplies while managing politics to strive towards victory.

7. The Economist Desk Diary

A classy, leather-bound desk diary for the new year, perfect for keeping track of all your important appointments and deadlines. Includes an information and map section of economic, statistical and political facts and street plans for a variety of world cities. Particularly good for busybodies, it is the ideal gift for keeping hectic and on-the-go lives in order.

8. On the One Hand…the Economist’s Joke Book

Who can resist a good graph joke? We know we can't. This book by Jeff Thredgold is sure to give the funny economist in your life some laughs.

9. Can You Outsmart an Economist? - Puzzle Book

Do you know an economist who can't resist a challenge (i.e. probably any economist)? Then give them this econ-flavored puzzle book. 

10. Get them a novel with economic themes

Reading a novel – for fun! – is an enjoyable hobby for many people, economists included. In fact, it can be downright bliss for a hard-working economist to set aside their graphs, theorems, and economic histories to enjoy some inspired fiction. Consider the following books for the economist in your life who likes to read:

  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck: A classic novel for good reason, this book explores the economics of poverty and immigration in the United States during the Great Depression – very relevant topics for an economist.
  • Red Plenty by Francis Spufford: a semi-fiction novel that contains a heavy amount of economic theory, perfect for the economist in your life. It details the rise and fall of the Soviet economy, despite all the best efforts of brilliant minds to create a successful planned economy that would rival the capitalists.
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: a novel detailing a future “utopia”, where humans are made in factories, the World State government is obsessed with inducing consumerism for unlimited economic growth, and society has eliminated art, religion, and other elements of culture. This classic novel explores many economic themes and shows how a utopia can be anything but.
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens: Although not as well-known as Dickens’ other works, Bleak House is sometimes regarded as his best. It follows the story of a family in Victorian England who await the payout from a lawsuit that is supposed to grant them a fortune, but that has become delayed and stymied in the legal system. It also features one of the earliest protagonists working as a detective, which may have fueled the rise of famous works like Sherlock Holmes.
  • The Witcher: The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski: a fantasy novel that follows the life of Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter for hire. One of Geralt’s main worries is finding enough work to feed himself, as he notes that his profession is designed to put itself out of business forever. A great novel with many sequels for an economist who enjoys fantasy settings, complex characters, and economic themes.

As an added fun fact, Andrzej Sapkowski – who originally wrote as a hobby – is actually a trained economist who studied at the University of Łódź. But he is much more well-known as the author of The Witcher novel series, which has spawned massively successful video games and a Netflix series. In fact, he’s not the only economist with a penchant for another hobby…

11. Support their hobby

Many famous economists have had interesting hobbies aside from their careers. For example, 2023 Nobel Prize in Economics winner Claudia Goldin and her husband, economist Lawrence Katz, are said to enjoy bird watching together; John Maynard Keynes was known to collect paintings and became a patron of the arts after earning his fortune; and US Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen learned to cook Indian cuisine after the pandemic closed many restaurants. If you’re familiar with your economists’ interests, there will be ample opportunities to support them.

12. Cash

According to behavioral economists themselves, the very best gift per dollar spent you could give an economist is cold, hard cash. Giving cash guarantees that the recipient can get exactly the high quality gift that they want, thus eliminating the deadweight loss of Christmas presents. It might not really keep with the spirit of the season, but it is the subject of much debate in economics. You'll just have to argue this one out with your economist friends!

Best of luck with your gift buying, and from all of us at INOMICS happy holidays!

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