Something for Nothing

Something for Nothing

A Novel

By Michael W. Klein

A young economic professor's adventures in his quest for a tenure-track position and a well-balanced life.





A young economic professor's adventures in his quest for a tenure-track position and a well-balanced life.

David Fox (Ph.D. Economics, Columbia, Visiting Assistant Professor at Kester College, Knittersville, New York) is having a stressful year. He has a temporary position at a small college in a small town miles from everything except Albany. His students have never read Freakonomics. He thinks he is getting the hang of teaching, but a smart and beautiful young woman in his Economics of Social Issues class is distractingly flirtatious. His research is stagnant, to put it kindly. His search for a tenure-track job looms dauntingly. (The previous visiting assistant professor of economics is now working in a bookstore.) So when a right-wing think tank called the Center to Research Opportunities for a Spiritual Society (CROSS)—affiliated with the Salvation Academy for Value Economics (SAVE)—wants to publish (and publicize) a paper he wrote as a graduate student showing the benefits of high school abstinence programs, fetchingly retitled “Something for Nothing,” he ignores his misgivings and accepts happily. After all, publication is “the coin of the realm,” as a senior colleague puts it.

But David faces a personal dilemma when his prized results are cast into doubt. The school year is filled with other challenges as well, including faculty politics, a romance with a Knittersville native, running the annual interview gauntlet, and delivering the culminating “job talk” lecture under trying circumstances. David's adventures offer an instructive fictional guide for the young economist and an entertaining and comic tale for everyone interested in questions of balancing career and life, success and integrity, and loyalty and desire.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262015752 336 pp. | 5.375 in x 8 in


$15.00 X ISBN: 9780262518710 336 pp. | 5.375 in x 8 in


  • ... [An] amusing take on the academic life....

    Tufts Now

  • This book is not merely entertaining. It manages to slip in some extremely clear explanations of supply and demand, game theory, marginal costs, and the like, which might well seem fuzzy when presented in more conventional form.

    The New York Times

  • He writes smoothly and precisely, with an undercurrent of quiet humor.

    The Chronicle of Higher Education


  • Michael W. Klein's novel Something for Nothing is a fun romp through the life of a young, aspiring academic as he struggles to find his way in the world. It is often amusing, sometimes edifying, and always entertaining.

    N. Gregory Mankiw

    Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics, Harvard University, and author of Principles of Economics

  • Klein effectively taps into fears that every researcher must have felt at one time or another about the possible fragility of his or her results, and gives us a window to view how a desperate but otherwise normal everyday person may be tempted to behave unethically. He does so with humor and a heavy dose of irony. Klein perfectly captures the bumbling, bungling, and cluelessness of (at least some) new Economics PhDs beginning their careers.

    Nelson C. Mark

    Alfred C. DeCrane Jr. Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

  • The thrill in this book—as in the economics profession itself—comes from trying to determine what's real and what's satire. Klein expertly combines them by mixing the insights of an academic insider with an appreciation of the human comedy that was almost completely missing from his previous book, Exchange Rate Regimes in the Modern Era.

    Yoram Bauman

    economist and stand-up comedian