Welcome to the home page of Charles Wheelan. I am a senior lecturer and policy fellow at the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College, a former correspondent for The Economist, and the author of assorted books that attempt to make serious topics more accessible (and even fun).
One of my friends once described me as an “economics handyman.” I’m still trying to figure out if that was a compliment. Anyway, I’ve always had a passion for public policy–solving real problems–and I think economics (and statistics) offer a good set of tools for understanding how the world works (or doesn’t).
So in books, columns, lectures–and now this web site–I’ve tried to make public policy as interesting to lay people as it is to me. Please take a look around.
The best-selling Naked series tackles the weird world of money.
Consider the $20 bill.
It has no more value, as a simple slip of paper, than Monopoly money. Yet even children recognize that tearing one into small pieces is an act of inconceivable stupidity. What makes a $20 bill actually worth twenty dollars? In the third volume of his best-selling Naked series, Charles Wheelan uses this seemingly simple question to open the door to the surprisingly colorful world of money and banking.
The search for an answer triggers countless other questions along the way: Why does paper money (“fiat currency” if you want to be fancy) even exist? And why do some nations, like Zimbabwe in the 1990s, print so much of it that it becomes more valuable as toilet paper than as currency? How do central banks use the power of money creation to stop financial crises? Why does most of Europe share a common currency, and why has that arrangement caused so much trouble? And will payment apps, bitcoin, or other new technologies render all of this moot?
In Naked Money, Wheelan tackles all of the above and more, showing us how our banking and monetary systems should work in ideal situations and revealing the havoc and suffering caused in real situations by inflation, deflation, illiquidity, and other monetary effects. Throughout, Wheelan’s uniquely bright-eyed, whimsical style brings levity and clarity to a subject often devoid of both. With illuminating stories from Argentina, Zimbabwe, North Korea, America, China, and elsewhere around the globe, Wheelan demystifies the curious world behind the paper in our wallets and the digits in our bank accounts.
From debt ceiling standoffs to single-digit Congress approval ratings, America’s political system has never been more polarized—or paralyzed—than it is today. As best-selling author and public policy expert Charles Wheelan writes, now is the time for a pragmatic Centrist party that will identify and embrace the best Democratic and Republican ideals, moving us forward on the most urgent issues for our nation.
Wheelan—who not only lectures on public policy but practices it as well (he ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2009)—brings even more than his usual wit and clarity of vision to The Centrist Manifesto. He outlines a realistic ground game that could net at least five Centrist senators from New England, the Midwest, and elsewhere. With the power to deny a red or blue Senate majority, committed Centrists could take the first step toward giving voice and power to America’s largest, and most rational, voting bloc: the center.
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Once considered tedious, the field of statistics is rapidly evolving into a discipline Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, has actually called “sexy.” From batting averages and political polls to game shows and medical research, the real-world application of statistics continues to grow by leaps and bounds. How can we catch schools that cheat on standardized tests? How does Netflix know which movies you’ll like? What is causing the rising incidence of autism? As best-selling author Charles Wheelan shows us in Naked Statistics, the right data and a few well-chosen statistical tools can help us answer these questions and more.
“Explains our global economy in a way that is (gasp!) actually entertaining.”—Book Magazine
Finally! A book about economics that won’t put you to sleep. In fact, you won’t be able to put this bestseller down. In our challenging economic climate, this perennial favorite of students and general readers is more than a good read, it’s a necessary investment—with a blessedly sure rate of return. Demystifying buzzwords, laying bare the truths behind oft-quoted numbers, the breezy Naked Economics gives readers the tools they need to engage with pleasure and confidence in the deeply relevant, not so dismal science.
“A book filled with so much wisdom that I have no choice but to recommend it.”—Craig Wilson, USA Today
The antidote to those cotton-candy platitudes that are all too familiar to anyone who’s ever worn a mortarboard, Wheelan’s 10½ head-turning aphorisms—backed up by a PhD in public policy and extensive social science research—set the record straight. Readers everywhere agreed, turning a Dartmouth Class Day speech that had gone viral into a best-selling book.
Dramatic aerial images by renowned photographer Terry Evans celebrate one of the world’s foremost cities at the outset of the 21st century. One hundred and twenty sumptuous four-color photographs take the reader on a fascinating tour of Chicago and its environs in all four seasons, revealing its unique features: its incomparable lakefront, cutting-edge skyscrapers, and diverse residential neighborhoods, as well as the lush farms and landscapes beyond the city’s borders.
Captions and essays by Charles Wheelan.