Home > Uncategorized > A specific plan to change economics textbooks

A specific plan to change economics textbooks

from Tim Thornton and WEA Commentaries

  1. The importance of economics textbooks

Economics textbooks are central to how the discipline of economics reproduces itself and how it convinces society of the legitimacy of its conclusions. Whilst writing a textbook does not have the glamour or esteem of producing highly cited research, it is perhaps at least as important. As Paul Samuelson, the father of the modern economics textbook remarked,“I don’t care who writes a nation’s laws – or crafts its advanced treatises – as long as I can write its textbooks” (Samuelson cited in Skousen 1997, p. 150). Relatedly, Lamm (1993) points out that the yearly sales of the leading economics textbooks dwarf the lifetime sales of many of the ground breaking books in economics such as Keynes’ General Theory. Furthermore, King (1995) argues that the inability of the first generation of Post Keynesians to produce a satisfactory textbook was a critical factor in allowing neoclassical-synthesis Keynesianism to become dominant.

Clearly, textbooks matter. Indeed, it is quite hard to imagine how there will be major change in economics until there are major changes in economics textbooks. However, we can frame this same point in more positive terms by saying it is quite easy to imagine how changing the textbooks used in economics could precipitate major change in economics. What then are the prospects of change?

  1. The difficulties of changing textbooks

Usurping the currently dominant economics texts has proven to be difficult thus far and it appears unlikely that the problem will resolve itself. Why is this?   read more

    January 10, 2019 at 10:27 pm

    To begin with I have not had any formal education in economics, but as Joan Robinson once said I have taken an interest in economics to avoid being duped by economists.

    Hence on the call for new text books for students, the way I see it is there is a large number of economic books as described by the RWEA however there are two authors whom i respect, that seem to be omitted from those lists. They are Bernard Guerrien because he cuts through the rhetoric and focuses o the cause of the problem, and g Tony Lawson ,because with his critical reasoning and his call for a new ontology where he argues for a better understanding of humanity, than the out-dated irrelevant concept of Homo Economicus.

    Apart from that the way I see it there is a lot of good thought provoking reading available if the student is steered in the right direction. In other words the emphasis so far seems to focus on the needs for new text books, forgetting the important point of how the subject is taught. For example C T Kurien’s emphasis on the importance of teaching students how to think, not what to think. Ideally I think this should start in the home and school then be reinforced in the university, because unless people, students and teachers learn how to think they are indoctrinated into somnambulantly accepting the political economic garbage with its ulterior motives of increasing the wealth and power of the elite. Ted

    • Craig
      January 10, 2019 at 11:20 pm

      Excellent point Ted. It’s perfectly rational to try to re-write economic textbooks, but the best way to actually make an economic and monetary change in everyone’s life is to start a grassroots movement that shows all agents individual and commercial how a new economics will incredibly benefit them personally.

  2. January 11, 2019 at 12:10 am


    Modern Monetary Theory and Practice: an Introductory Text

    The first version of our MMT textbook – Modern Monetary Theory and Practice: an Introductory Text – was published on March 10, 2016 and is authored by Bill Mitchell, Randy Wray and Martin Watts.

    By way of explanation, this edition contains 15 Chapters and is designed as an introductory textbook for university-level macroeconomics students.

    It is based on the principles of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and includes the following detailed chapters:

    Chapter 1: Introduction
    Chapter 2: How to Think and Do Macroeconomics
    Chapter 3: A Brief Overview of the Economic History and the Rise of Capitalism
    Chapter 4: The System of National Income and Product Accounts
    Chapter 5: Sectoral Accounting and the Flow of Funds
    Chapter 6: Introduction to Sovereign Currency: The Government and its Money
    Chapter 7: The Real Expenditure Model
    Chapter 8: Introduction to Aggregate Supply
    Chapter 9: Labour Market Concepts and Measurement
    Chapter 10: Money and Banking
    Chapter 11: Unemployment and Inflation
    Chapter 12: Full Employment Policy
    Chapter 13: Introduction to Monetary and Fiscal Policy Operations
    Chapter 14: Fiscal Policy in Sovereign nations
    Chapter 15: Monetary Policy in Sovereign Nations

    It is intended as an introductory course in macroeconomics and the narrative is accessible to students of all backgrounds. All mathematical and advanced material appears in separate Appendices.

    A Kindle version will be available.

    Note: We are soon to finalise a sister edition, which will cover both the introductory and intermediate years of university-level macroeconomics (first and second years of study).

  3. January 12, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    There can be no valid GUT of cultural economy (or economics) without a singular, unitive, substantially comprehensive, realistic foundation of holotrophic meta-theory, i.e., ethical meta-economics. Further, the forthcoming new Work on that requires ethical ecometrics to balance even next-gen econometrics. Clearly, Lawson’s call for a new ontology is well founded. What must it include for validity & viability? Predominantly, human reality and interaction involve qualitative issues, ethics, natural meta-ethics and meta-logic. Ignore all that and you ignore root causes and the nonquantitative factors that inform and affect sociocultural interaction. Furthermore, lacking ethical meta-economics and ethical ecometrics there is no way to measure, monitor and assess the toxic realities of kleptocracy, the parasitic cancer infecting & ruining civilization & our only habitat, Earth’s biosphere. Without a viable, bio-ethical holonomic paradigm of humane culture there can be no valid legal-financial paradigm and no global civilization worth sustaining. Yes, learning the realities of economics should begin in the home, but that will not become generally possible without an ethically viable cultural paradigm. Additionally, that seems an extremely unlikely possibility as long as the socioeconomic paradigm of kleptocracy rules the world. Hence, a truly effective evolutionary upgrade of text books and teaching of ethical meta-economics seems a vitally important necessity for fostering and supporting a sustainably sane civilization.

    • Craig
      January 13, 2019 at 12:20 am

      The very process of Wisdom is the integration of the truths in opposites and wisdom’s pinnacle is the utterly integrative natural philosophical concept of individual graciousness and grace applied to our systems. Do an exegesis of its many, many scientific and beatific aspects and craft philosophy and policy around it….and you’re on your way.

  4. January 23, 2019 at 7:50 am

    American history textbooks have been changed a few dozen times over the last 150 years. But none has radically altered reported American history. The emphasis has changed and continues to change, depending on what is included and what is not in each textbook. In the current politically polarized situation, there have been radical suggestions for changing the reporting of American history in textbooks. Most of these originate on the right or radically right political spectrum. Most have not been widely implemented. Economics textbooks seem to have the opposite problem. They all seem identical in what’s included and what’s left out, at least since 1960. Plus, it’s my view economics is neither a genuine science nor a genuine humanities discipline and thus should not be taught in public schools and colleges in the US. It has been made into a cult whose rules and leaders are no longer subject to questions or challenge. Consequently, economics textbooks are unnecessary, and perhaps even harmful to the commonwealth.

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