MBA Library

Here are some (highly) recommended books that go deeper into the key principles behind each chapter of ‘Economics: A Complete Guide for Business‘.

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
  • McMillan, J., (2002) Reinventing the Bazaar, W.W. Norton & Co.
    • More of a storybook than a textbook, McMillan provides a fascinating tour of actual markets, and a thick description of the culture of commerce. Seminal concepts are illuminated with the deployment of eclectic literary quotes, and although the text is a little stilted, and lacks a market process perspective, there are not many better books on this theme. The examples may seem a little dated now, with eBay lauded as a cutting edge retailer, but there is no problem with reflecting on the important role that it played in the changing global economy. Indeed this is a perfect example of the value in producing social anthropological case studies of historic and contemporary marketplaces.

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
  • Foss, N.J., and Klein, P.G., (2022), Why Managers Matter: The Perils of the Bossless Company, Public Affairs

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