Introducing a new economics textbook
by John Komlos, PhD University of Chicago


About the book

The recent financial crisis illustrated vividly the flaws of weakly regulated markets, yet textbooks remain unchanged, failing to convey the systematic limitations of free markets. This book redresses this imbalance in the tradition of G. Akerlof, R. Easterlin, J.K. Galbraith, H. Minsky, D. Kahneman, J.M. Keynes, P. Krugman, A. Sen, R. Shiller, H. Simon, J. Stiglitz, Th. Veblen, and the Institute of New Economic Thinking.

It does so by exploring important topics that are generally overlooked in introductory economics courses and by juxtaposing blackboard models of the economy with real-world empirical observations. Komlos argues convincingly that it is misleading to focus on models of perfect competition in a world where such markets have become an insignificant share of economic activity. Rather, even beginning students ought to be introduced to the workings of oligopolistic market structures with imperfect information and endemic underemployment. In such cases markets are no longer efficient and there is plenty of opportunities to enhance the quality of life of its participants. Komlos proposes a human centered economics that attains full employment and an equitable distribution of income striving above all toward a just economy.

Concepts covered in the book include often neglected topics such as:

  1. Behavioral economics
  2. Cognitive biases
  3. Regulatory capture
  4. Bounded rationality
  5. Dot-Com Bubble
  6. Sub-prime mortgage crisis
  7. the Great Recession
  8. Corporate compensation
  9. Basic needs
  10. Income inequality
  11. Opportunistic behavior
  12. Moral hazard
  13. Principal-Agent problem
  14. Asymmetric information
  15. Financial meltdown of 2008
  16. Capitalism with a human face
  17. Predatory lending
  18. Relative income
  19. Signaling
  20. Countervailing power
  21. Happiness economics
  22. Bailouts

The reviews are in

James Kwak, author of 13 Bankers and White House Burning penned a review entitled ‘The Book that Needed to be Written.’

“Economics 101 usually paints a highly stylized, unrealistic view of the world in which free markets always produce optimal outcomes…What we need, I have often thought, is a companion book for students in Economics 101, one that points out the problems with the standard material that is covered in the textbook.”

Read the full review here


About the author

John Komlos is Professor Emeritus of Economics and of Economic History at the University of Munich and has taught at such other institutions as Harvard, Duke, and the University of Vienna. Born in Budapest - just as the Russian army began its assault on the city in 1944, he became a refugee twelve years later during the revolution of 1956, and grew up in Chicago.

He went on to receive PhDs in both history and economics from the University of Chicago, where Nobel-Prize winning economic historian Robert Fogel introduced him to the field of anthropometric history in 1982. Komlos has devoted most of his academic career developing and expanding this research agenda, which culminated in his founding the field of “Economics and Human Biology” with the journal of the same name in 2003.

Komlos was the first to explain why populations of the then developed world became shorter at the onset of modern economic growth. He also discovered that after being the tallest in the world for 200 years, Americans became shorter than Western and Northern Europeans after the Second World War. His work has been cited in radio programs and on television as well as in most major newspapers around the globe including The New York Times, where Paul Krugman wrote about it, and has been featured in The New Yorker magazine in 2004. The trauma of 2008 and the Great Recession induced Komlos to teach and write about the need for a paradigm switch in economics which culminated in the publication of this book on the human-centered principles of real-world economics.