Bill Gates once said in an interview that he reads every page of The Economist. It's no coincidence that so do a lot of other smart and influential political, business, academic and media leaders throughout the world. If you want to know everything about everything, you need to start reading this on a weekly basis.
The Economist's tightly argued and balanced expository pieces illuminate realm after realm of the world's politics, history, economics, business, finance, books, arts, science and technology. Its often lighthearted, wry tone does nothing to conceal its serious purpose and curiousity in the progression of human events.
The magazine pulls no punches and offers a range of sharp, unsentimental opinions from its well-known free market, liberal democratic perch. I myself don't often agree with The Economist's take on things (though I even more often do--there's a lot of stuff in every issue). Nonetheless, I always respect its reasoning and objectivity.
Also, regular extensive readers like Mr. Gates know well and have almost come to depend upon the magazine's more tangibly personal benefits: imagine what the absorption and consideration of so much incisive argumentation and news background on a weekly basis does to the mind! At the risk of sounding a bit far-fetched, I always feel sharper and wiser when I've been reading The Economist.
I apologize for the effusiveness of this review, but if you can't tell by now, I can't say enough great things about this magazine. Highly recommended.
I subscribed to The Economist over a year ago after having found myself purchasing copies at some six dollars per pop at local bookstores. The price for a magazine subscription was higher than I would normally pay (some two dollars per copy was the best rate I could locate). But the in-store issues I had purchased were just so good that I found myself returning every week for the next copy, and that was turning out to be TRULY expensive. So, I made the plunge for a subscription to try it out.
I was not disappointed. The Economist has turned out for me to be without doubt one of the best magazines to which I've ever subscribed. The publication reads more like a detailed world briefing than a magazine, and its coverage of events from around the world is impressive in nearly every respect. I find that a weekly perusal of the magazine has broadened my horizons immeasurably, allowing me to learn about important people, events, and issues both within and outside the North American context. It is a publication that I look forward to reading each week, and it has shown me how very little "news" one gets by simply sitting down in front of the television (which has a significant portion of its time dedicated to running inane commercials, and the rest a playing of little "news reports" that are cycled endlessly, even over days) and assuming that what one is receiving is the sum of the news for the day. (It isn't.)
The Economist breaks up its print edition each week into geographical regions (The United States, the Americas, Europe, The Middle East and Africa, Asia, and Britain) and other topical categories (International, Business, Finance and Economics, Science and Technology, Books and Arts, Obituary, and Economic and Financial Indicators). There are also the regular weekly repeating columns, such as "The World this Week" (a summary digest of the world's news in short paragraphs). Opinion pieces each week include Charlemagne (covering issues within the European Union), Bagehot (covering Britain), Lexington (covering the United States), and Buttonwood (covering financial issues), in addition to current issues of interest (recent issues focused on Sarkozy's bid for the French Presidency, and The Economist openly supported Sarkozy, even printing one issue with Sarkozy in the place of the famous Napoleon portrait by David). In addition, the magazine regularly publishes "special features," insets to the magazine, typically some 15 pages in length, covering either a specific region of the world, a city, or a financial issue. Many of these special features are also available as individual reprints for educational use.
Most articles in The Economist are just the right length to make sitting down with the issue for half an hour a day the perfect schedule for working through the magazine in time for the next weekly issue to arrive. A web-based edition of the magazine, complete with a searchable index of articles that have appeared in the magazine over the years in addition to the current issue, is available free to all print subscribers (one must use the customer number from the print edition to create the free online account). This is a perfect magazine for daily reading.
In a day and age when publications seem to be getting dumbed-down by the minute, The Economist is a place where one can find a comprehensive review and digest of news from around the world. We don't have to agree with all the perspectives the magazine takes, but we can certainly benefit from the outstanding coverage the publication provides. Reading it each week becomes an education in itself, and due to its wide-ranging scope, I now realize that purchasing my own subscription was a truly "economical" thing to do.
Those on the far-left cry of its "callous conservatism" and those of the far-right call it a "bastion of ivy tower liberalism", but for your average American, this is what commonsense journalistic reporting should be: well-written, researched, for a somewhat educated but not strictly academic audience, and simply about the facts. You'll find articles written from nearly every political perspective here, but the most common take on the issues is a moderate one, usually just slightly left-of-center or right-of-center.
The Economist keeps up with the world's current trends and uniquely puts them into the context of a economic and political landscape. Despite the magazine's title, you don't really have to be an economist to understand or enjoy reading it. Give it to your teenagers and watch how smart and aware they become come time for them to take their SATs.
One review cried that The Economist is "statist". Hardly so! Sure, it's not as hard-nosed classicially liberal as some would like it to be in that it recognizes the immorality of obscene wealth concentration in the hands of a few while the overwhelming majority suffer. But, this is not hand-from-top Keynesian economics. Rather, it's called having a heart. Or rather, in more technical terms, it is what John Rawls, political philosopher and former Harvard University law professor, referred to as the "distributive justice" when he wrote the famed scholarly works "A Theory of Justice" and "Justice As Fairness". Rawls is a new classical liberal, but not a classical or neo-classical one. It was he, not Keynes, who invented this idea of "reflective equilibrium". He recognizes that even Adam Smith himself conceded that his model was imperfect and could lead to hegemony and market failure given the right conditions. Rawls does not believe in forced redistribution of wealth like statists do, but he say that an unequal distribution in a configuration that it works against the allowing of equal opportunity to flourish for the least advantaged is the very definition of injustice in a free society.
What the free-market fundamentalists fail to understand is that America changed after the Great Depression. The old glory days of freely raping and pillaging the earth without consequence are over. We now live in a world of over 6 billion people and limited resource. We are in this together. Sure, we should allow people to make their own economic decisions, as destroying their incentive would accomplish little in matters of improving the overall economic status of society in general. But, those of us who live in extreme opulence must come to eventually acknowledge that while one might choose to own ten limousines and a gold-plated toilet seat (and that is your freedom), such cannot be seen as moral when innocent children are born into starvation everyday through no choosing of their own. To say such is not so much Marxist or "leftist" as it is being a genuine human being with a sense of true compassion and justice for the whole of humanity.
So, in having 'The Economist' embrace the new school of Western liberalism, one should be glad. The older school of Classical Liberalism in the end points us to an absurd form of moral relativism and self-interested utilitarianism, where it's "dog eat dog" and everyone who gets eaten goes to hell. It leads to a perversely selfish style of individualism and pride ego that even to this day remains one of the most harshest critiques made against modern liberalism. Hardly anything a true conservative would embrace... A moral one, that is.
Don't read The Economist if you think Marx killed God or Milton Friedman was God. Rather, read The Economist if you if think Thomas Paine in "Common Sense" said it all when he said:
"Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher. Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil."
Without question, this is the magazine to choose if you want to read news on a weekly basis, rather than drivel, celebrity reports, and senseless "polls" that amount to nothing.
If you are looking for a particular political slant, do not choose the Economist. Its writers run the gamut from the left to the right, but the overall tenor of the magazine is well balanced. There's plenty to challenge one's world view in any given issue, no matter what one's political affiliation, but I tend to enjoy that aspect of the magazine. There are few publications that even try to present such a balance of viewpoints, and none others that succeed so brilliantly.
The writing is unparalleled and refreshingly unsophomoric. It's great to read something written at a level higher than grade eight, and with a vocabulary to delight the eyes and sometimes even warrant breaking out a dictionary. The coverage is truly worldwide in scope, too, with the U.S. frequently taking a backseat to the rest of the globe, as it should, when events dictate.
I think the Economist is simply the best of its class, bar none.
I don't have much to add that hasn't already been said by all the other reviewers, except to point out that The Economist's readership, unlike those of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News, has grown more or less steadily over the last decade. While The Economist has long devoted itself to straightforwardly reporting serious news and has a plain-Jane layout, the big-circulation American news magazines allocate more and more print to lifestyle and entertainment news and more resources into flashy graphic design. (Time magazine now includes "sigs" or mugshots of many of its writers -- how self-indulgent is that? The Economist's articles don't even have bylines.)
I have always been interested in keeping up with current events. As a child, foolishly, i used to watch Fox News, thinking that it was a gem. As I got older and my intellectual capacity started increasing I started becoming disgusted with cable news, which most of the times seems like a circus show.
I started reading the NY times and the Economist and found that, when bundled up together, I could get a clear picture of pretty much everything going on in the world very easily.
What other people have said of The Economist is true: it's not written for the average, spoon-fed American. It takes work to plow through this stuff. However, I've found that it has helped me tremendously in almost every aspect of my life (I know, how cliche!)
Perhaps the most tangible way it has helped me is with my English and writing skills. Now, English is not my first language (and when i started reading the magazine my brain would fry before i could get through a fourth of it). Getting through this magazine has helped me become a better writer and reader (i can think critically now, in English!). This was so noticeable that when i retook my SAT's a year later after discovering this Magazine my score jumped from a 470 in Critical reading to a 640 (out of 800) and my writing score jumped from a 500 to a 700 (out of 800). The articles College Board made me analyze seemed like a piece of cake compared to those of The Economist.
For the record, i wrote my SAT essay about Obama. I got all the information for it from the Economist.
LESSON: gift this subscription to any SAT anxiety filled teenager you know! (trust me, there are many.) He or she will be grateful.
The economist has taught me so much about so many different areas. I confess, i feel like an "intellectual" sometimes because of this magazine.
On the fence about getting the Economist? It's not the cheapest subscription, is it?
Ask yourself: "Do I care about what's happening in the world, or do I only care about sports and weather?" then follow up with "Am I able to think honestly about new ideas?" "Will I make an hour a week to really dig into the interesting articles?"
If you can read and you care about what happens in the world and you are open to perhaps changing your mind when presented with factual arguments, then the Economist is for you. They aren't always right, but they are always insightful and fair. In a world so full of corporate sponsored BS that an out-of-his-league frat boy can get elected as the most powerful man on Earth (twice), its nice to find refreshing truth. Sure, The Economist is written from the viewpoint of Economists, but what do you expect? You can't accuse them of being illogical or heartless, and they certainly understand money, which is about as important as you suspect it is.
Go ahead, arm yourself with understanding. It's the only way to stay afloat. You'll get more wisdom from one cover story in The Economist than from a month of watching news-style TV stations. You will be poorer without The Economist than with it.
The Economist is the best newspaper (as it calls itself) I have read, period. It is a thorough examination of world events that on a weekly basis supercedes any other news source out there. It focuses straight to the heart of the issue rather then trying to spin it one way or another for political gain.
It takes time to understand The Economist. If you have never read The Economist before be prepared to invest time and effort into reading and understanding like you never have before with a news publication. It takes at minimum a good 2-3 hours to read the cover to cover. Do not expect surface level articles that are touched on once and never returned to. Week after week the Economist provides thorough investigation on issues around the World that the regular news sources never even touch on.
If you are concerned about political bias, don't be with The Economist. It is the most fair and balanced world news source out their. Don't get me wrong, The Economist does take hard-line stances on issues but it is never consistantly tilted to the American liberal or conservative. The Economist says it how it believes without trying to hide a political spin.
If someone is thinking about subscribing to the Economist then get ready to be willing to read week after week in-depth analysis on the World's most important issues. There is not a better news publication out there than The Economist
Having read the Economist for several years now I didn't realize how their writing had spoiled me until I sat down with a NY Times. The Economist conveys more information in 5 paragraphs than the NYT does in 5 pages. When you're sick of ego driven, paid-by-the-word drivel, grab the Economist. The obituaries alone are often worth the price. This is the gold standard and well worth your time and money.
The Economist is truly the best of the weekly global news magazines. Too bad it's not American so I don't have to bother with the pesky differences in spelling! Don't let the magazine's name mislead you into thinking it is mostly about business, financial, or economic matters; The Economist covers important news in virtually every country, including articles on science, technology, books, art, and people, and it offers at least two in-depth reports every issue. The writing is clear, insightful, and aimed at an intelligent, informed audience, with a sprinkling of dry British humor (always in good taste). Yes, The Economist has a bias - a free-market bias - but they wear their heart lightly on their sleeve, so I can live with it. If you want to stay informed about the world, if you can read only one news magazine, then The Economist is the one.