Home > students, The Economics Profession > Economics students revolt against being force-fed with neoclassical mumbo jumbo

Economics students revolt against being force-fed with neoclassical mumbo jumbo

from Lars Syll

Rethinking econ_0

The world has changed, the syllabus hasn’t – is it time to do something about it?

Rethinking Economics is a network of young economics students, thinkers and writers who are organising to create fresh economic narratives to challenge and enrich the predominant neoclassical narrative.

We aim to demystify and diversify economics in the public eye; to educate ourselves and other students in a more reflective economics; to inspire divergent economists to engage with one another in debate; and to promote a politics of responsibility with academic economists. The Cambridge Society for Economic Pluralism (CSEP) is run by a dedicated group of students united by the belief that progress in the discipline of economics will be driven by an increasingly interdisciplinary approach and a pluralist platform in the 21st century.  CSEP aims to enrich the understanding of economic thought within the Cambridge community and promote alternative views on conventional economic thought as well as current affairs in an innovative discussion format. We are The Post-Crash Economics Society and we are a group of economics students at The University of Manchester who believe that the content of the economics syllabus and the way it is taught could and should be seriously rethought.

We were inspired to start this society when we heard about a Bank of England Conference called ‘Are Economics Graduates Fit for Purpose?’ At this event leading economists from the public and private sphere came together to discuss whether economics undergraduates were being taught the right things in the light of the 2008 Financial Crisis. This chimed with some of our frustrations about the economics we were learning and so we decided to set up a society that would through doing research, organising events and running workshops seek to bring this discussion to Manchester. That was at the start of the 2012/13 academic year.

  1. November 8, 2013 at 5:26 am

    Sounds like a ??? What are these students up to? What exactly is “… demystify and diversify economics in the public eye; to educate ourselves and other students in a more reflective economics; to inspire divergent economists to engage with one another in debate; and to promote a politics of responsibility with academic economists.” Sounds like a 21st century version of the 19th century version of the Cambridge Union Society. How about I just take these students to a pub to give them an opportunity to find out how the economy and those involved in it actually work? They still want to be economists, just more diversified and demystified. Not students of economics and economic actors. To do the latter they’d have to admit that it’s the actors they observe and not economists who are responsible for building up economics and economies, for good or ill. Economists want to write the play as well as observe it. Be the audience and the playwright. That’s not only arrogant but anti-scientific. So stop rebelling against economist colleagues you don’t like and start working on figuring out how economies and economic actions are built up by actors who are merchants, ship builders, bartenders, bankers, teachers, talk show hosts, and building contractors. I hope this is what these students are looking to accomplish by this “The Cambridge Society for Economic Pluralism.” But I have my doubts.

  2. November 11, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Economics will never be a science until it deals honestly with certain basic facts and assumptions:
    1. What is the economy for? The way economists today describe it, it is value-free, that is, devoid of concern for human beings, just for price and demand (actually effective demand, since that’s all that counts, in Economics) models.
    2. What are the factors of production? Labor, Capital and…wait for it… Land. Without the last one, it’s like talking about physics without heat or gravity. And no, Land is not a form of Capital, as it has been wrongly conflated with for over 100 years; it’s almost the opposite.
    3. What is money and who should be allowed to create it? Is a private monopoly on money-creation the best model? What about a Public Option for money, aka Sovereign Money, or debt/interest-free money?
    4. Following up on #3, who should be allowed to created credit? Just the private sector, or should there be a Public Option for credit in the form of Public Banks too?
    5. How much money is actually available? This basic accounting fact is not as straightforward as it seems. There are 10s of trillions in government assets (described in the CAFRs), yet governments say they are “broke.”
    6. What are the true costs of “externalities,” conveniently ignored by economists, but not by the planet? Who pays the cost of these?

    This is just the beginning. As Keynes noted, mathematical models based on nothing add up to nothing.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.