Two concept proposals: from neoclassical economics to neoliberal economics and from neoliberalism to plutocratism
from Deniz Kellecioglu
It is important to talk about concepts that reflect reality. This is especially true if we are concerned about people’s emancipation – it is easier to struggle when your nemeses are conceptualised and visible. In my opinion, one of the greatest obstacles of recent history is the evasive and concealed character of hegemony.
In our context of economics, it has been obvious for a while that we can no longer use the term neoclassical economics (NCE) to describe the current mainstream economics (theory and education). NCE has been so distorted and so disfigured over the past decades that it no longer reflects mainstream theoretical narratives (see Lawson 2013 for a recent discussion). From one perspective, as the economist Joan Robinson talked about “bastard Keynesianism” in the 1960s, we have now a “bastard Neoclassicism”. This followed from an elite capture and customisation of NCE. The fundamental flaws of NCE, as we real-world economists see it, were actually sources of strength for the elites and elite-oriented individuals. The basics of NCE functioned brilliantly to advance their perspectives, interests and power (not only economical and political, but also social and cultural). A “free” world is wonderful if you start with a stronger upper hand, i.e. unequal point of departures. Because NCE was moulded at the hands of neoliberal forces, I think it should now be called neoliberal economics. Read more…
from Peter Radford
Forgive me for my exasperation.
There are too many disparate efforts to rethink economics, conferences on this, and papers on that. I admire each and every one. I support whole heartedly any attempt to shake economics from its irrelevant torpor. But all this fractured effort is achieving nothing. It cannot succeed in the face of the depth of resistance in most university economics departments and the fear that academics seem to have of open action.
I can understand that many sympathetic academics may want to shun action, after all they have livelihoods at stake. But I ask: what is a career in economics worth if that economics is toxic? Those with the greatest stake in the subject are the students who have yet to choose which path to take. It is their action that needs to be facilitated and made secure.
For it is their open action that will change things. Read more…
guest post from Rob Johnson
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, many of our policy makers and top economists are still stumbling in the dark.
One needn’t look far for proof. The symptoms of their failure are everywhere. Financial markets remain too volatile and crises too common. Inequality is raging and increasing around the globe. And environmental damage continues unabated, with rising climate volatility belying claims that we can experience sustained and broad based prosperity without major changes in the global economy.
A key part of this problem – and one that hasn’t been adequately explored – is the economics profession. Read more…
from Edward Fullbrook
The monetary theory debate starring Krugman and Keen currently raging on the Web desperately needs real-world grounding in the context of the guest post by Jesse Frederik that appeared on this blog on 26 January. The debate is centered on how banks work.
Keen holds that:
neoclassical economists . . . get it wrong: by ignoring banks, and treating loans as transfers from “savers” to “spenders” with no bank in between.
This is precisely how Krugman models debt in his recent paper: Read more…
from Edward Fullbrook
This week’s Time magazine, of all places, has a splendid hard-hitting longish article by Robert Johnson (Institute for New Economic Thinking). It includes an acknowledgement that a prestigious segment of the profession has been financially corrupted. Here is some of the article followed by a link to the remainder.
Economists: A Profession at SeaHow to keep economists from missing the next financial crisis.
By Robert Johnson
After the financial crisis of 2008, the Queen of England asked economists, “Why did no one see the credit crunch coming?” Three years later, a group of Harvard undergraduate students walked out of introductory economics and wrote, “Today, we are walking out of your class, Economics 101, in order to express our discontent with the bias inherent in this introductory economics course. We are deeply concerned about the way that this bias affects students, the University, and our greater society.”
What has happened? Rebellion from both above and below suggests that economists, who were recently at the core of power and social leadership in our society, are no longer trusted. Not long ago, the principal theories of economics appeared to be the secular religion of society. Today, economics is a discipline in disrepute. Read more…