Search This Blog

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Reviving Economics - Call to Arms

David Brooks (IMOP correctly) states that the state of (mainstream) economics is at a crossroads, and simply cannot continue along its current path without some major upheaval in thought and methodology.

Mainstream economist and textbook author Greg Mankiw disagrees (of course), and absurdly implies that mainstream economists were, for years before the crisis, paying attention wholeheartedly to financial structural problems. I'm sure there were a handful of mainstream economists dipping their toes in the water, but I know of no mainstream economist who put forth any real ideas - all the real ideas were coming from heterodox schools (for DECADES)which mainstream economics not so subtly abhorred and continues (amazingly) to shun (because its gains mean the very revolution David Brooks talks about). And I find it laughable that he invoke behavioral economics as if there is the great hand-holding relationship between behavioral economists and the mainstream. It's true that behavioral economics is gaining (and has received) some acceptance at the micro level - but there is still the undercurrent within the mainstream that behavioral econ is just a nice "add on" to mainstream models - which defeats the point.

There's a reason that the vast majority of economists and academics that predicted the impending doom were from heterodox fields - it's because textbook economics - arguably led and embodied by Greg Mankiw - is, by itself, a failure. I acknowledge the usefulness of much of what can be found in such textbooks - I still use a mainstream text to teach - but the old textbooks do need to be thrown away (or at least heavily supplemented). I threw away Mankiw's two years ago because there are other authors that aren't so dismissive of the need for the field to change.

David Brooks is spot on when he says:
"The moral and social yearnings of fully realized human beings are not reducible to universal laws and cannot be studied like physics."

And I'll let people in on a secret - students agree. I teach a mix of mainstream and heterodox concepts from a pluralist perspective - and I'm seeing the light bulbs go on in students' minds - the next generation, whether people like Mankiw like it or not, will change the field. Mankiw will have a legacy of supporting the stagnation of economics - via his short-sighted best-selling economics textbooks. But I for one will be proud that, albeit in a very small way, I supported the dialog of change that will help revive economics.


Anonymous said...

A great post! I am currently an undergraduate economics major, and I am VERY critical of mainstream thought. I read some heterodox idea because of the Great Recession and the failure of mainstream economics. I used to be (basically) a chicagite. My eyes are opened now and I'm not going back.


SPEPost said...

But doesn't that make for great opportunity for new ideas? The worse the field the easier to better it.

Daniel MacDonald said...


Great post, but I have a couple of questions.

First, When do you think economics "died"? It's unclear to me whether this is the best way of thinking about what we need to do to change things.

I am skeptical -- indeed, probably just as much as Mankiw but for completely different reasons -- that the financial crisis will change how people view the mainstream of economics. The mainstream has demonstrated remarkable continuity in one form or another since Adam Smith. Marx's writings are full of references to the "bourgeois economists" who simply got it all wrong -- they couldn't even understand the world in which they were living. In the latter part of the 19th century and into the 20th, economics became more formal and the underlying classical concepts never changed. Keynes had a brief period of attention, but from the very beginning (see reviews of the General Theory in early journals) was also framed almost entirely in the ideas of the classicals.


Daniel MacDonald said...

Second, students won't really change their views on economics until they can actually see changing economic institutions in the world around them. Until we are actually teaching about the theory and practice of cooperatives, or about the historical contingency of capitalist institutions (which also requires some real world proof, and healthcare is indeed ONE SMALL step in this direction), then students won't latch on to the revival. Quite simply, as long as the profit motive and other key aspects of decision making in capitalist economies (see my newer post for more on this!) are still the dominant frameworks in our world, students or professors will see no reason to change how they think about economics.

In short, changes in the underlying economic structure of society will inevitably have great impacts on the trend in economic thought; whilst the converse of this thesis is simply not as strong a mechanism (that is, autonomous changes in economic thought are much less likely to lead to a revival).

Thanks again for your posts :)

Anonymous said...

mwdmumzvm Crush The Castle

Penis Enlargement Pills said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I think I will leave my comment.
I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog.
I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Anonymous said...

Hey i just came here to let you know about a service i offer. I offer cheap backlinks that can help you website rank significantly better on Google. Traffic is everything and to get decent traffic you need to rank well in the search engines. My service can help provide that, check out my site

oakleyses said...

tiffany and co, christian louboutin shoes, polo ralph lauren outlet, coach purses, nike free, longchamp handbags, coach factory outlet, louis vuitton outlet, tiffany and co, louis vuitton, gucci outlet, kate spade handbags, louis vuitton outlet, true religion jeans, tory burch outlet, kate spade outlet, prada handbags, air max, michael kors outlet, chanel handbags, burberry outlet, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, burberry outlet, prada outlet, nike shoes, michael kors outlet, longchamp outlet, louis vuitton handbags, ray ban sunglasses, coach outlet, jordan shoes, michael kors outlet, louboutin outlet, michael kors outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, air max, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, coach outlet store online, louis vuitton outlet stores, oakley sunglasses cheap, oakley sunglasses, true religion jeans, louboutin, longchamp handbags, louboutin

oakleyses said...

hollister, louis vuitton uk, michael kors, sac burberry, true religion outlet, nike tn, vans pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, nike roshe run, nike air max, michael kors, louboutin, oakley pas cher, timberland, nike free pas cher, north face, nike trainers, polo ralph lauren, mulberry, ray ban pas cher, michael kors pas cher, new balance pas cher, ray ban sunglasses, air max, air force, barbour, sac longchamp, sac louis vuitton, vanessa bruno, lululemon, sac guess, sac louis vuitton, air jordan, sac hermes, louis vuitton, true religion outlet, nike free, air max, longchamp, hogan outlet, nike roshe, hollister, ralph lauren, north face, polo lacoste, air max pas cher, converse pas cher, nike blazer

oakleyses said...

hollister, herve leger, canada goose, insanity workout, nfl jerseys, canada goose, soccer jerseys, north face outlet, p90x, ugg, uggs outlet, canada goose, marc jacobs, new balance shoes, ugg pas cher, canada goose outlet, ferragamo shoes, canada goose uk, celine handbags, jimmy choo outlet, abercrombie and fitch, reebok outlet, mac cosmetics, longchamp, wedding dresses, ugg boots, beats by dre, mcm handbags, asics running shoes, ghd, giuseppe zanotti, babyliss pro, soccer shoes, canada goose jackets, ugg boots, ugg australia, lululemon outlet, birkin bag, mont blanc, north face jackets, nike huarache, nike roshe run, bottega veneta, chi flat iron, rolex watches, instyler, vans shoes, valentino shoes

oakleyses said...

montre homme, iphone 6 cases, thomas sabo, swarovski crystal, hollister clothing store, swarovski, lancel, rolex watches, moncler, ray ban, wedding dresses, air max, hollister, ugg, ralph lauren, coach outlet store online, pandora jewelry, converse, baseball bats, oakley, louboutin, juicy couture outlet, moncler, gucci, air max, pandora charms, hollister, moncler outlet, timberland boots, louis vuitton, toms shoes, juicy couture outlet, canada goose, vans, parajumpers, moncler, ugg, pandora charms, canada goose, moncler, moncler, links of london, converse shoes, moncler, supra shoes, karen millen

dong dong23 said...

oakley vault
coach factory outlet
coach factory outlet
louis vuitton outlet
coach outlet
coach factory outlet
nike uk
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors handbags
kate spade outlet
ghd hair straighteners
jordan 13
oakley sunglasses
coach outlet online
louis vuitton outlet stores
gucci handbags
michael kors outlet
true religion jeans
ralph lauren outlet
rolex watches
cheap oakleys
oakley store
michael kors handbags
nike sb shoes
toms shoes
burberry outlet
designer handbags
coach outlet
coach outlet store online
louis vuitton bags
juicy couture
adidas outlet store
coach outlet online
adidas superstar
michael kors handbags
louis vuitton outlet
polo ralph lauren
jordan 8
christian louboutin