Management reading list

Here are a few recommendations for managers.

  1. Sowell, T., 1987, A Conflict of Visions, William Morrow
    • Sowell makes a distinction between a constrained (i.e. human nature is stable and based on self-interest) or unconstrained (human nature is good or has the potential to be good) “vision”. He argues that most political beliefs fit into one of these categories, and that people’s judgements are often determined by their existing vision.
  2. Schwartz, Peter. (1997) The Art of the Long View: Planning for Future in an Uncertain World, John Wiley & Sons
    • The pioneer of scenario planning provides a user guide to their construction and use, and demonstrates their relevance for any decision making under uncertainty.
  3. Postrel, V., 1999, The Future and Its Enemies, Free Press
    • Postrel challenges the conventional wisdom that modern society isn’t delivering, and that we need to take coordinated action to change this trend. Instead, she articulates the case for competition and decentralised decision making, and identifies a “dynamism” world view that permits amazing innovation.
  4. Koch, Charles, G., 2007, The Science of Success, Wiley – especially SoS excerpts
    • This book outlines the concept of “Market-Based Management”, the framework that Koch credits as driving the incredible success of the American conglomerate Koch Industries. It attempts to apply the institutions of a free society and market economy within a firm, and provides an excellent case study on alternatives to hierarchical command structures.
  5. Burlingham, Bo, 2005, Small Giants, Penguin
    • A fascinating collection of case studies of companies that chose to be great rather that big. Most of them may be unfamiliar, but they are all inspirational for their pursuit of excellence as they define it.
  6. Cowen, T., 2009, Create Your Own Economy, Dutton
    • This is an eclectic look at how the internet has affected the way we engage with information. We have more choice, and more ability to cultivate our own consumption that ever before. This caters to people with autistic tendencies, and Cowen not only allows us to understand this condition, but also encourage our inner neural diversity.
  7. Deutsch, D., 2011, The Beginning of Infinity, Penguin – in particular “Optimism” (Chapter 9)
    • In a deep, mind bending work Deutsch argues that the enlightenment was built on the search for good explanations (which is different to attempts to test theories), and claims that a rediscovery of this effort will create the beginning of infinity. He touches upon his expertise as a Physicist to explain famous paradoxes and make a convincing argument in favour of the multiverse.
  8. Ridley, M., 2011, The Rational Optimist, Harper
    • Trade and specialisation have meant that things have never been better, and things will continue to be better provided we remain rational and optimistic.
  9. Poundstone, W., 2011, Priceless, Oneworld – especially the chapters on Prospect Theory and Ultimatum Games
    • Entertaining and accessible overview of behavioural economics and its impact on decision making.
  10. Ries, Eric, 2011, The Lean Startup, Penguin – especially the chapter on batches
    • The classic guide to creating a new organisation under conditions of uncertainty, including practical advice on strategy.
  11. Gleick, J., 2012, The Information, Fourth Estate
    • A somewhat daunting but wholly engrossing history of information, explaining critical innovations such as drum banging, Enigma, through to the internet.
  12. Fisman, R. and Sullivan, T., 2013, The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office, Twelve – in particular “What Management is Good For” (Chapter 5)
    • A highly readable explanation for why organisations exist, and a defense of the important role they play in coordinating economic activity.
    • Also see “Why Managers Still Matter“, Foss, N.J., and Klein, P.G., MIT Sloan Management Review, September 2014.
  13. Leighton, W.A., and Lopez, E.J., 2014, Madmen, Intellectuals and Academic Scribblers, Stanford – especially the chapter on Public Choice theory
    • A scholarly level and yet enjoyable look at how ideas shape the world around us, with excellent examples of times when they can overcome vested interests. The authors identify policy entrepreneurs as key change agents and show how social change occurs.
  14. Skarbek, D., 2014, The Social Order of the Underworld, Oxford University Press
    • One of the very best attempts to study how governance emerges without government. Skarbek presents his academic work on how prisons are organised, cutting across all of the social sciences. He draws upon fascinating fieldwork to explain the role of gangs and destroys many myths about why they form and the functions they serve. This is one of the best contemporary examples of the applicability of economic theory to broad social issues and will change how you think about how people associate.
  15. Nelson, R., 1977, The Moon and the Ghetto, WW Norton & Co
    • A joint-Godfather of organisational studies, Nelson shows the difference between technical tasks (such as sending someone to the moon) and social tasks (such an ending poverty). A failure to distinguish between the two can be a major source of organisational failure.
  16. Weiner, E., 2016, The Geography of Genius, Simon and Schuster – in particular his advice to his daughter
    • A tender travel book that combines affectionate tales of interesting journeys, with a sharp identification of what causes certain locations, at certain points in history, to give rise to outrageous spells of creativity.

Business One Pagers

Sometimes I read a book and it leaves a big impression on me, but I worry that it will be transient. I already utilise “One Pagers” for recording brief thoughts on interesting books or articles, but thought I could create a template that focuses on business implications.

Although teachers like myself often think that providing a list of excellent resources is sufficient to aid someone’s learning, genuine learning needs to be reflective. Therefore my advice is to read the book and then write a Business One Pager.

The basic format is as follows:

  • Key information: (i.e. title of the book, name of the company, industry, era, etc)
  • Situation analysis/context
  • Key challenges faced
  • Legal and regulatory context
  • Sources of value creation
  • Successes
  • Failures
  • Lessons I can implement

Of course, this is incomplete and should be treated as a work in progress. But I hope you find it helpful.

Resources

Monetary Theory and Policy Workshop

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The purpose of this workshop is to understand basic models in contemporary Monetary Theory and Policy.

(Deep) background readings:

  • Patinkin, D. (1956) Money Interest and Prices Row, Peterson & Co
  • Friedman, M., and Schwartz, A., (1963) A Monetary History of the United States 1867-1960, Princeton
  • Woodford, M., (2003) Interest and Prices, Princeton

Textbook:

Problem sets:


Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 09.36.17Readings on methods:

  • Origins of VAR – Friedman & Meiselman (1963); Lucas (1976); Sims (1980)
  • VAR – McCandles & Weber (1995); Bjornland (2000)
  • Narrative measures – Romer & Romer (1990)
  • Case studies – Sargant (1986)
  • Origins of DSGE – Kydland & Prescott (1982)
  • DSGE and Central Banks – Smets & Wouters (2002, 2007)
  • DSGE – Sbordone et al. (2010); Dotsey (2013); Romer (2011, Chapter 7)
  • After DSGE – Solow (2008); Blanchard (2016)

Two lectures on methods:

Other readings:


Courses:

Training programs:

Conferences:


Software links:

Categories

These are longer essays published on Medium:

These are my Guides:

This is a complete list of the posts that appear on this website:

Twitter threads:

Twitter jokes:

MBA Library

This is a list of books that I recommend, organised by topic. My original plan is to have 2 per topic, but this is a work in progress.

1. Incentives matter

  • Becker, Gary, (1998) The Economics of Life, McGraw Hill

2. Cost and choice

  • Levinson, Marc (2006) The Box, Princeton University Press

3. Market exchange

  • Klemperer P., (2004) Auctions: Theory and Practice, Princeton University Press

4. Prices and economic calculation

  • Swedberg, R., (2000) Entrepreneurship: The Social Science View, Oxford University Press
  • Fisman, R., and Sullivan, T., (2013) The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office, Twelve Books

5. Competition and the market process

  • Mathews, John (2007) Strategizing, Disequilibrium and Profit, Stanford University Press
  • Dixit, A.K., Nalebuff, B.J. (1993) Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life, W.W. Norton

6. Capital theory and recalculation

  • Lachmann, L., (1956) Capital and its Structure, Sheed Andrews and McMeel

7. Public finance

  • Ferguson, Niall, (2002) The Cash Nexus: Money and Politics in Modern History, 1700 – 2000 ,Penguin
  • Frisby,  D., (2019) Daylight Robbery. How Tax Shaped Our Past and Will Change Our Future, Penguin Random House
    • A somewhat polemical but highly readable account of how important taxation has been in the affairs of the state. The account of the US civil war may need balancing with other views, but I particularly recommend the chapters that consider how future working styles (such as digital nomadism and the widespread adoption of AI) will affect tax collection, and this how governments organise their activities. Historically sweeping but continually interesting.
  • Narayanan et al. (2016) Bitcoin and Cryptopcurrency Technologies, Princeton University Press (see the website for videos, and an online draft version is here)

8. Monetary theory

  • Friedman, M., (1994) Money Mischief, Harcourt
  • Whalen, C.R., (2010) Inflated: How Money and Debt Built the American Dream, Wiley
    • I liked the historical perspective, focus on monetary theory, and link to public finance. But I felt it was one sided, US centred, and badly written. Am still trying to find a better option.

9. Fiscal policy

  • Buchanan, J., and Wagner, R.E., (1977) Democracy in Deficit: The Political Legacy of Lord Keynes, Liberty Fund

10. International economics

  • Blustein, P., (2006) And the money kept rolling in (and out), Public Affairs
  • Yeager, L., (1954) Free trade: America’s opportunity Liberty Fund.

11. Behavioural economics

  • Poundstone, William (2010) Priceless: The Hidden Psychology Of Value Oneworld
  • Kahneman, Daniel (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow Farrar Straus and Giroux
    • There are a lot of books that attempt to explain the main findings of behavioural economics, but this is the best. Written by an expert in the field, it reads more as an intellectual biography and tender ode to his deceased co-author, Amos Tversky. We learn more about the genesis of those classic original experiments, and how to implement those behavioural “anomalies” into business decision making. The chapters are short and immersive, and gradually build the concepts and insights into an incredibly important resource.

12. Global prosperity

  • Bauer, Peter (2000) From Subsistence to Exchange Princeton University Press
  • De Soto, Hernando (1989) The Other Path Basic Books
  • Aslund, Anders (2007) How Capitalism was Built: The Transformation of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia Cambridge University Press
  • Skidelsky, Robert (1996) The Road from Serfdom: The Economics and Political Consequences of the End of Communism New York: Viking Penguin

And don’t forget: Markets for Managers!

The Economist: an MBA reader

This version: August 2011

One of the best ways to learn economics is by regularly reading ‘The Economist’, but for those who want to develop a more comprehensive understanding this approach can seem a little hit and miss. This anthology contains articles spanning the last decade, selected for their ability to do one of two things: (i) provide a concise and understandable explanation of an important concept; or (ii) as an application that could be used as the basis for discussion.

For students: Printing out the complete list might seem daunting but will serve as an excellent primer. Alternatively, you could view this list as a menu rather than a recipe and simply pick and choose topics that are of interest to you.

For teachers: Whilst I have compiled it with my own students in mind, the structure should allow you to customise it to tie into your own classes.

Instructions: Simply scroll down the list and open each link in a new tab. Then go through each in turn printing them out (I suggest printing on both sides). Put them in a folder and voila – a primer. At some point I will try to link to the print version, to make it even easier, but consider this a beta version.

If you use this anthology and have any comments please do get in touch so that I can continue to modify it

Note: This anthology is not endorsed by ‘The Economist’ in any way and I am assuming that people who follow the links below have their own subscription. For Special Reports (in bold face) I have only linked to the first article, but the whole report is recommended.


1. Microeconomics

Price theory & comparative statics [1,2,3]

Entrepreneurship & information [4]

Prediction markets [5]

Competition policy [5]

Regulation [5]

Manufacturing [5]

2. Monetary policy

Causes of inflation

Inflation expectations & credibility

Inflation or price level targeting

Deflation

Interest rates and capital misallocations

Fluctuations

3. Output and employment

Aggregate demand & output gap

Price rigidity

Unemployment

Sovereign debt

4. Macroeconomics models

5. International trade

Forex determination [10]

Trade balance [10]

Balance of Payments [10]

Big Mac Index [10]

Trade policy [10]

Globalisation [12]

FDI [12]

6. Financial markets

Anomalies & applications [11]

EMH/news [11]

Investment vehicles [11]

CAPM [11]

7. Prosperity & development

Pre industrial growth [12]

Growth & productivity [12]

Poverty & inequality [12]

Migration [12]

Aid & microfinance [12]

Transition [12]

8. Country cases

9. Economic history

10. The state of economics & the role of economists

Colloquium on J.B. Say

Dates and location TBA

In December 1819 Jean-Baptiste Say was one of a group of political economists and businesspeople who founded “Ecole Spéciale de Commerce et d’Industrie”, in Paris. Their practical experience and commitment to liberal ideas established a new type of academic model, pioneering the modern business school. Over the last 200 years the school has undergone a number of innovations, most notably with the merger in 1999 with EAP to form a multi-campus model operating throughout Europe. Combining a European identity with a global perspective, ESCP Europe now stands as a triple accredited and highly ranked establishment. JB Say held the first Chair in Economics, and 200 years later this colloquium uses his intellectual legacy as the host for an appraisal of his ideas and influence. 

Attendance is strictly by invitation only. Suggestions/feedback welcome – please email me.

Main reading: Say, J.B., ([1803] 1855) A Treatise on Political Economy (translation of the 4th Edition) – print copy at Amazon, or see this free pdf, or Library of Economics and Liberty.

  • Session I. On theory and practice
  • Session II. Origins of entrepreneurship
  • Session III. Say’s Law: the origins
  • Session IV. Say’s Law: Keynes’ reading
  • Session V. Say’s Law: The generally accepted view
  • Session VI. Say’s Law: The resurrection

Colloquium on Sound Money

20th-21st November 2009, London

1.    What is Money?

  • Menger, Carl, 1976, “The Theory of Money” (Chapter 8, in Principles of Economics, p.257-286)
  • Salerno, Joseph T., 1987, “The “True” Money Supply: A Measure of the Supply of the Medium of Exchange in the U.S. economy” Austrian Economics Newsletter, Ludwig von Mises Institute
  • Shostak, Frank, 2000, “The Mystery of the Money Supply Definition” The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 3, No. 4, pp.69-76

2.    The Interest Rate and Intertemporal Coordination

  • Mises, Ludwig von, 1953 [1912], The Theory of Money and Credit Yale University Press (Excerpts: Chapter 19, pp.339-367)
  • Hayek, Friedrich A., 2008 [1931], Prices and Production Mises Institute (Excerpts: Lecture 2, pp. 223-252; Lecture 3, pp.253-276)
  • Sweeny, Joan and Richard James Sweeny.  1977, Monetary Theory and the Great Capitol Hill Baby Sitting Co-op Crisis: Comment, Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Volume 9, Feb., pp. 886-89

3.    The Gold Standard and the Great Depression

  • Rothbard, Murray, 2005 [1963], What has government done to our money? Mises Institute (Excerpts: pp.159-170)
  • Reed, Lawrence, 2005, “Great Myths of the Great Depression” Mackinac Center for Public Policy
  • White, Lawrence H.  2008, “Is the Gold Standard Still the Gold Standard among Monetary Systems?” Cato Institute Briefing Papers, No. 100

4.    Deflation and Prosperity

  • Rothbard, Murray, 2005 [1962], The Case for a 100% Reserve Dollar Mises Institute (Excerpts: Chapter 10, pp.180-186)
  • Selgin, George, 1997, Less than Zero: The Case for a Falling Price Level in a Growing Economy Institute of Economic Affairs, Hobart Paper No. 132 (Excerpts: pp.9-41; 70-72)

5.    Free Banking vs 100% reserves

  • Mises, Ludwig von, 1953 [1912], “Peel’s Act” in The Theory of Money and Credit Yale University Press (Excerpts: Chapter 20, pp. 368-373)
  • White, Lawrence H. 2009 [1984], Free Banking in Britain: Theory, Experience, and Debate, 1800-1845, Institute of Economic Affairs (Excerpts: Chapter 5, pp.89-135)
  • Selgin, George, 1997, Less than Zero: The Case for a Falling Price Level in a Growing Economy” Institute of Economic Affairs, Hobart Paper No. 132 (Excerpts: pp. 67-69)
  • De Soto, Jesus Heurta, 2006, Money, Bank Credit and Economic Cycles Mises Institute (Excerpts: Chapter 8, pp.675-714)

6. Central banking

  • Smith, Vera, 1990 [1936], The Rationale of Central Banking, Liberty Fund (Excerpts Chapter XII, pp.167-196)
  • Hayek, Friedrich A., 1990, Denationalisation of Money – The Argument Refined, Institute of Economic Affairs, Hobart Paper Special, No. 70 (Excerpts: pp.23-28, 46-55, 130-131)
  • Congdon, Tim, 2009, Central Banking in a Free Society, Institute of Economic Affairs, Hobart Paper No. 166 (Excerpts Chapter 1, pp.34-43; Chapter 8, pp.178-189)

7.    Proposals for Reform

  • Salsman, Richard, 1990, Breaking the Banks, American Institute for Economic Research (Excerpts: Chapter IX, pp. 125-141)
  • De Soto, Jesus Heurta, 2006, Money, Bank Credit and Economic Cycles Mises Institute (Excerpts: Chapter 9, pp.736-787)
  • De Soto, Jesus Heurta, 2006, Money, Bank Credit and Economic Cycles Mises Institute (Excerpts: Chapter 9, pp.788-805)

Macro bootcamp

Updated: March 2018

The Macro Bootcamp is a short and intensive reading group that serves as a refresher for a graduate level class in contemporary macroeconomics. It aims to cover the seminal texts of the most prominent schools of thought, and act as a foundation for applications to current policy debates.

1. Advanced reading

Participants are advised to read the following book, which provides an excellent introduction to modern macroeconomics from a school-of-thought approach. The interviews at the end of the book in particular are worth attention:

2. Reading list: key articles

Note: this reading list is heavily influcenced by Tyler Cowen’s Macro I Reading List, Fall 2006 (.pdf). For a previous version see here.

History of thought/background

Real Business Cycles

New Keynesian economics

Monetary policy

3. Further reading

The classic graduate text for macro is David Romer. It is the best treatment of the alternative growth models, and then has a chapter on each variable of national income accounting. Participants are advised to grapple with it after the bootcamp has taken place

It is also a good idea to see how various Austrian, Keynesian and Moneratist ideas can be integrated into a heterodox narrative. See Arnold Kling’s “Lectures on Macroeconomics“.

Note: the lectures above feed into the Monetary Theory and Policy Workshop

An undergraduate Austrian-school reading list

The best introduction to all aspects of the Austrian school, and how it differs from other approaches to economics is:

Handbook

Videos

Textbooks

  • Shand, Alexander H., 1984, The Capitalist Alternative: An Introduction to Neo-Austrian Economics. New York: New York University Press
  • O’Driscoll, G.P., and Rizzo, M.J., 1985, The Economics of Time and Ignorance Routledge
  • Evans, Anthony J., 2014, Markets for Managers. Wiley

Primers

  • Littlechild, Stephen C., 1978, The Fallacy of the Mixed Economy. Hobart Paper 80. London: Institute of Economic Affairs
  • Kirzner, Israel M., 2001, Ludwig von Mises. Wilmington, DL: ISI Books
  • Butler, Eamonn, 2010, Austrian Economics – A Primer, London: Adam Smith Institute

Intellectual histories

Conference proceedings

  • Dolan, Edwin G., (ed) 1976, The Foundations of Modern Austrian Economics. Kansas City: Sheed & Ward Inc.
  • Spadaro, Louis M., (ed) 1978, New Directions in Austrian Economics. Kansas City: Sheed Andres & McMeel

If you like audio, here’s Ludwig Lachmann’s “History of the Austrian School” (1977). Here’s the short intro I wrote in 2005, and here’s “What Should an Austrian Economist Do?