How Finance Works

The HBR Guide to Thinking Smart About the Numbers

In How Finance Works, Mihir Desai, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of the widely praised book The Wisdom of Finance, guides you into the complex but endlessly fascinating world of finance and demystifies it in the process.

This colorful and interactive guide will help you to start thinking more deeply about the numbers.


Preorder your copy today from your favorite bookseller!



“Mihir’s book provides the perfect combination of intuitive explanations, contemporary examples, and rigor so that both finance pros and novices can truly enhance their capabilities.”

—Helen Riley, Chief Financial Officer, Google X

For anyone who wants to be able to utilize financial information… How Finance Works provides clarity and guidance to what can be, for many, an intimidating arena. 

—David Wolfson, Executive Director, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy

“Professor Desai has accomplished a rare feat: transforming the typically complex and often dry subject of finance into a lively and accessible tour de force, without trivializing its importance.

—Cyrus Taraporevala, President and CEO, State Street Global Advisors

"Professor Mihir Desai's advice--both practical and witty--was an inspiration when I was a student at Harvard Business School. . . I'm thrilled that he's written this book so that even more people can benefit from his wisdom!"

—Sarah Kauss, founder and CEO, S’well

“Informative and engaging, this book…is a must-read for business students and aspiring business leaders—or anyone looking to deepen their understanding of finance.”

—Marne Levine, Chief Operating Officer, Instagram

“Finally, someone has provided a mechanism for gaining intuition about finance for those of us who deliberately avoided any financial studies in school.”

—Michael Jaff, MD, President, Newton-Wellesley Hospital

"Mihir manages to make finance fun and accessible--and, by the end of it, you'll have the confidence, intuition, and understanding you need to succeed as a leader or executive in any organization."

—Jennifer Morgan, President, Americas and Asia Pacific Japan, SAP


"Mihir Desai's book on how finance works is masterful at laying bare the simple truths and the commonsense principles that underlie much of finance. . . readers, no matter what their background or interests, will come out more informed and enlightened by the journey."

—Aswath Damodaran, Professor of Finance, NYU Stern School of Business; author, The Little Book of Valuation




Mihir A. Desai is the Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance at Harvard Business School and a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He received his Ph.D. in political economy from Harvard University; his MBA as a Baker Scholar from Harvard Business School; and a bachelor's degree in history and economics from Brown University. Areas of expertise include tax policy, international finance, and corporate finance, and his academic publications have appeared in leading economics, finance, and law journals.