About Mindful Economics

Mindful Economics is a valuable resource for anyone who wishes to deepen their understanding of the United States economy. The book breaks away from traditional economic theory and provides a fresh, critical perspective on capitalism in America. The book will be particularly useful for citizens, activists, students or others who seek positive social change. The first several chapters guide the readers through an exploration of real-world institutions such as corporations, government, market systems, financial and other institutions that make up the U.S. economy. These chapters provide much information about the histories of these institutions, as well as how they have evolved to serve the profit-making and growth imperatives of capitalism. Embedded in these stories is the consistent theme that the need to maximize profits for a relatively small section of the U.S. population has shaped the development of America's most powerful institutions.

The second part of the book demonstrates how the need for higher profits and endless growth has intensified environmental destruction, resource depletion, instability, social and political inequality, and even global warming. These problems have become systemic and solutions therefore require long-term systemic change.

The path toward systemic change is laid out in the third part of Mindful Economics. Such change can be brought about by developing alternative institutions. As these alternatives evolve and grow, they will place the U.S. economy on a path to a new system. Systemic change will come about gradually by the will of people who purposefully steer the development of the economic institutions in their communities in a positive and healthy direction. To this end Mindful Economics lays a foundation for building new alternatives that are democratic, locally-based and ecologically sustainable. Such alternatives are not only viable, they can be found all across the United States. Through a network of alternative institutions, people can begin to build alternatives to capitalism and provide hope for future generations.



About the Author


JOEL MAGNUSON, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized economist specializing in non-orthodox approaches to political economy. He is currently a professor of economics in Portland, Oregon; a visiting fellow at the Ashcroft International Business School at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, England; and is an international advisor to the editorial board of Anglia's journal Interconnections. He is an active member of an international research group based in Europe that is working toward new philosophical foundations for economic theory and practice. He writes extensively on historical events and issues related to capitalist development.

Go to Joel's blog: The Mindful Economist






Joel Magnuson's Mindful Economics... provides an enormous service by explaining, step-by-step, the basics of capitalism and the specifics of its American incarnation.... A principal accomplishment of this book is simply allowing readers to make sense of the maze of institutions governing our political-economic system. But Magnuson does much more than this; he also provides a well-informed critique of how the system works.... Magnuson is also effective and accurate in describing the nature of America's contemporary economic problems... The book was published before the financial crisis hit this fall, so it's noteworthy that Magnuson explicitly predicted that the real estate bubble would soon burst and that a federal bailout would be required to deal with the aftermath of the collapse.
Thad Williamson, University of Richmond; published in Tikkun, March/April 2009



"Joel C. Magnuson has written a lovely and provocative introduction to American capitalism that I wish every American would read. There is a wealth of information put in rich historical and social context and made accessible even to those with an aversion to the dismal science. One need not agree with all of Magnuson's points in this thoughtful presentation to understand that he is making an important contribution to our understanding of the central issues before our nation and our species."

Robert W. McChesney
author, Communication Revolution

Magnuson gives us all the tools we need to understand why the U.S. economy is so destructive to the world and to our society. He provides us the foundation to participate intelligently in debates about how best to rebuild an American and global economic system. His analysis shows why there is an unsolvable conflict between our environmental needs and the logic of capitalist economic growth. All this he presents in a style easily accessible to those who fear that this topic is above their heads or "too boring for comfort." And his insistence that a "mindful economy is based on respect for all life and natural processes" provides a ground for reconciliation between the spiritual and the economic needs that we face as an immediate challenge.
Tikkun, Nov./Dec., 2008

Economists are, in some respects, no different to the rest of us. For while they can tell us how we got into this mess and what needs to be done (though naturally the answers vary according to the economist), they can no more answer than the politicians—or the man in the pub—how bad it's going to get and how long a recovery is going to take. Joel Magnuson is refreshingly frank about this frustration. But while you wait for happy days to come around the corner again, you will be hard pushed to find a better explanation of what has brought on the current crisis. With lucid explanations and faultless logic, Professor Magnuson surveys 200 years of capitalism—its successes as well as failures. Rightly, he identifies speculation as core to its operations and acknowledges that with speculation comes something that economists can't prevent: greed.
February, 2009

"[Former] U.S. presidential candidate John McCain acknowledged that he knew little about economics and said he would buy an economics text book.  How lucky for us if he and other politicians happen to pick up "Mindful Economics" by Joel Magnuson.  Magnuson lays out the basic concepts of Econ 101 so clearly that McCain is sure to ace the course. But Magnuson notes an irreconcilable conflict between capitalist financial growth and environmental sustainability. He finds hope, however, in a kind of evolutionary socialism that he calls Mindful Economics.  If McCain and his fellow politicians can master that half of the book, they'll not only pass the course, they may even help us save the planet."
Barbara Garson is the Author of the play MacBird and Money Makes the World Go Around.

Magnuson presents an intriguing perspective on the U.S. economy by describing the American capitalist system and its key institutions and economic issues, covering the most important consequences of the system and, finally, offering alternatives. His overview of the history and background of the U.S. economic system is thorough, including the development of capitalism, the U.S. financial system and Federal Reserve banks, the stock market, the structure of corporations, and international economic relations. The problems with the system Magnuson discusses include poverty, financial market instability, environmental destruction, and economic downturns. In the final section, he presents a notable study of a mindful economy, writing, "In a mindful economy, we seek to avoid debilitating crises and set out to follow a thoughtful and careful path toward change." He examines ways of achieving a mindful economy of values-based principles: the mindful economy is intrinsically democratic, equitable, just, based on respect for all life and natural processes, and stable. This book should be read by faculty and students studying economics and can be appreciated by those just learning about how the economy works. Highly recommended to academic library collections.
Library Journal, October 15th

"Joel Magnuson has written an excellent guide to one of the most deliberately mystified fields of human endeavor. If you ever wondered what all those words and concepts mean, this is the book to turn to. And though I don't agree with all his prescriptions for making things better, they're great spurs to both talk and action."
Doug Henwood, author of Wall Street

"MINDFUL ECONOMICS is the most important new book in economics to be published in the last decade... This is a magnificent book that will confer enormous benefits on anyone who reads it.... I give this book my strongest possible endorsement and recommend it very, very highly to all of my colleagues in the academic economics profession."
E K Hunt
Professor of Economics and author of Property and Prophets
The University of Utah

"Mindful Economics is a much needed book to understand economics and its power. Joel Magnuson's approach to this science is innovative and engaging. Economics becomes a topic to discover and master at the same time. A must for everybody who wants to truly understand one of the mechanisms which rules our world."
Loretta Napoleoni, author of Rogue Economics
"Mindful Economics is a new and up-to-date statement of progressive economics. Mindful Economics is very much a classic of its kind. Indeed, it may well be among the most important works concerning economics ever written. Among the canon of books concerning values-centered economics, the unrivalled--and unprecedented--power of Magnuson's book derives from the clarity, comprehensiveness, and accuracy of its vision... It would be hard to think of another book that would provide a better introduction to economics itself. Because of the comprehensiveness of Mindful Economics, if you only have time to read one of the recommendations here at our site, or want to know where best to begin, this is your book." (click here for the full review: review)
K.L. Roberts,
Editor-in-Chief, Progressive Living
"Mindful Economics is an excellent book for students and just about anybody who wants to understand, as Magnuson says, "the [cataclysmic] consequences of capitalism." He does a wonderful job of providing the historical and institutional context of capitalism for students and in doing so, lays bare the myth of laissez faire and the wonders of the free market. Particularly outstanding are the chapters on financial market instability and causes of inequality in the U.S. economy. What is also nice about the book is that he also suggests concrete alternatives 'community centered co-ops' for students so they leave with a sense of hope and vision for the future."
Solomon Namala, Ph.D.
Cerritos College

"I must say that I never thought I would enjoy reading an economics book, but one has come to my attention that is just that - an enjoyable and interesting read. The book is Mindful Economics by Joel Magnuson... If you want to learn more about the development and functioning of U.S. capitalism, and an interesting approach to a different economic focus and organizations, take the time to read "Mindful Economics." (click here for the full review: review)
Rowan Wolf, Ph.D.
Uncommon Thought Journal
"[Magnuson] offers a systemic and historical view of economic development, unearthing the reasons why institutions have manifested in their current state, and thereby shedding acute and much-needed light on the problems of our current world, and how the capitalist system that has come to dominate it is reaching a crisis. I am not an economist, and this volume provided a valuable theoretical framework for understanding economic institutions and a fascinating story of the unfolding of human organisational activity. While the modest aim of Mindful Economics is 'an educational resource for people concerned about these consequences of capitalism,' the depth and  implications of the analysis, and the underlying assumptions that he unearths with relentless acuity, provide both an educational tool for understanding modern economic institutions and their interplay, and a gentle challenge to the world view that upholds capitalism as the only economic alternative, that has come to dominate Western, if not global economic activity. The implications of this book have a disciplinary significance in the areas of ontology, ethics, philosophy, sociology, economics and business studies."
Dr. Bronwen Rees,
Anglia Ruskin University , UK   
"This is an invaluable resource for individuals and organizations wanting a comprehensive understanding of the way U.S. capitalist systems and institutions operate. Dr. Magnuson provides an extensive overview of some of the devastating consequences of capitalism (environmental degradation, economic inequality, and financial market instability) and offers suggestions for adopting a more mindful economics, one 'rooted in democratic institutions, socially controlled by an active citizenry, and shaped the values of people in their communities.' Magnuson admits that creating economic alternatives that challenge the status quo are extremely difficult yet acknowledges that the attempt is not impossible. This is a great guide for cooperatives, small businesses, and anyone dedicated to sound economic practices."
Turning Wheel
"After I started using Mindful Economics a student wrote this to me: 'I view everything differently now after your class.' That must be the best comment an author can get for writing a book. Dr. Magnuson was able to accomplish that. Mindful Economics enabled my students to understand our economic system, its problems and the solutions for those problems. Thanks Dr. Magnuson for a great contribution."
Melike Kayim,
Portland Community College
"An excellent text to counterbalance the sacred scriptures by Samuelson et al...
This is an important book about a vast and important subject --economics --which, except for hermits and recluses living in the wilderness, affects just about everyone, every single day, in more ways than most people realize. Mindful Economics by Joel Magnuson does the job brilliantly and comprehensively. Not since the 1970s, when we saw the last crop of "Goliath slayers," had we seen an introductory text to economics so well organized, comprehensive, accessible, and conscientious in its unorthodox analysis of the subject as to merit an unqualified hurrah. While presenting all the essential topics that students and the public at large might expect from an overview of economics, he "upends" the mainstream approach, while adding to it, and thereby turns a misleading, unnecessarily abstruse, and largely sterile brew into an enlightening journey of new appreciation for the untapped potential of humankind. In that sense, Mindful Economics is a demystifying tool, a mind detoxifier that also makes economics fun to read. And Mindful Economics helps the reader vaccinate the mind against the blandishments of false consciousness, showing that, in economics, at least, the unorthodox view may be far closer to the truth... [A] book like Mindful Economics performs a signal service to society, as it arms people with the kind of knowledge they need... this book could be a turning point for many readers and the beginning of a robust understanding of a previously chaotic situation." (go here for the full review:
Patrice Greanville,
The Greanville Journal





To purchase a new and updated edition of Mindful Economics contact: 

Seven Stories Press
 140 Watts Street
New York, NY 10013

Support a small, community-based independent bookstore and order a copy at

Annie Blooms Bookstore

Of course there is always Amazon:





Events and Classes

Mindful Economics currently being used in the economics departments at colleges and universities throughout the United States. Author Joel Magnuson is teaching courses using Mindful Economics at both Portland State University and Portland Community College.
Author Speaking Engagements:

Portland Oasis

“Mindful Economics” Lecture Series

January 28th - February, 18th, 2009,

Wednesdays 1:30 – 3:00 pm

621 SW 5th Ave., Portland, OR 97204.



Edmonds Community College
March 2nd, 2009

12:30 pm

"Finding Stability, Sustainability, and Justice in the 21st Century"

20000 68th Avenue West

Lynwood, WA 98036


Books Inc. in the Castro

“Mindful Economics”
March 30th, 2009

7:30 pm

2275 Market Street

San Francisco, CA



Keynote Speech

Lane Peace Conference

"Peace and Collective Action: Connecting Hope to Change" May 29th, 2009
4:30 pm

Lane Community College - Peace Center
4000 East 30th Avenue, Eugene, OR 97405


Boulder Independent Business Alliance, Local Fest

“Author Event,” Friday, July 10, 2009, 6:30pm

First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce St.

Boulder, CO 80302


“Forum on Local Money”

Boulder Courthouse Lawn, Saturday, July 11, 1:00pm


Union for Radical Political Economics

Summer Conference, August 15-18, 2009

Economic Crises: Opportunities for Radical Change

“Mindful Economics Presentation”

Camp Deer Run, Pine Bush, NY


Parkland Institute Fall Conference--

Crisis and Opportunity: It's Time for a Progressive Economy

November 20-21, 2009

"Mindful Economics Presentation"

Edmonton, Alberta

Corporate Power, Climate Change, the Economy: Everything is Connected
Seventh Annual Martin Luther King Celebration, Skagit Valley College, 2405 East College Way, Mount Vernon, Washington
Saturday, January 16, 2010, 1:00pm to 5:15pm

Center For 21st Century Studies

DEBT Conference
Friday, April 30, 2010, 1:00pm to 2:30pm

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

To schedule a reading, lecture or book-signing event with the author, see the contact information for the publisher listed below.




Seven Stories Press
140 Watts Street
New York, NY 10013




Institute For Local Self-Reliance:

Association for Evolutionary Economics:

Citizens for Tax Justice:

Post-Autistic Economics Network:

The E.F. Schumacher Society:

International Co-operative Alliance:

Conservation Economy:

Left Business Observer: