History of Economic Thought

Keynesianism, neoliberalism and the 'Dissemination' of Economic Ideas: That's the Way of the World.

It is often argued that in recent years the question of the 'dissemination' of economic knowledge has been increasingly addressed by historians of economics. However, as our buddy Tiago has noted on the previous version of this blog quite some time ago, historians seem to not really know what they're talking about when they talk about 'dissemination'. In fact, I would argue that most accounts of the history of science - and therefore, of economics - should deal with the question of dissemination, as science itself is "a form of communicative action" (Secord, 2004). Read more

Where the World Economic Association Started

Having lunch next to Edward Fullbrook he told me the story of how the post-autistic economic review got its start, leading to what we today know as the World Economic Association and all the great work coming from this community.

Back in 1999 Edward was at a conference in Cambridge and talked to attendees about the French movement to bring economics back to a more realistic starting point, and the great success the French students had in getting media attention. Attendees were not, as it turned out, convinced that this was even happening. Not to be dissuaded, Edward set up an anonymous e-mail address after the conference and wrote an anonymous e-mail to the 99 conference attendees informing them again about what had happened in France. Read more

History of Economics and Images: static and dynamic

  There has been an important movement towards making available on the web a host of open courses. One can easily access courses from major American universities such as Harvard, MIT, Yale and Princeton, among others (see the Open Courseware Consortium for similar initiatives worldwide). Read more

Economic “fields” as historical objects (not yet)

The notion of “field” is so pervasive that economists hardly pay conscious attention to it. The student is early trained into the habit of classifying knowledge, then papers and colleagues according to their field. You share your office with a labor economist, will be part of a committee recruiting some health economist, and are late with your review of this environmental economics paper (well, that's unlikely). Economic fields draw a map with which economists navigate their profession on a daily basis. Read more

The challenge of “value-ladeness” for history writing

 

Although the objectivity-Grail Quest has ended with total success decades ago (so economists say), the question of the possibility and consequences of economists' values smuggling into their daily practice still periodically surfaces, and crises make good times for such debates. Yet, not often do we historians too ask how economists' values should be handled in our writing. Read more

Ajit Sinha - Piero Sraffa’s Price Theory Without Equilibrium

 

Piero Sraffa’s classic work Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities has been variously interpreted as a special case of modern neoclassical general equilibrium or a foundation stone for the revival of the classical tradition of Smith and Ricardo.

Ajit Sinha breaks new ground by viewing the book through the eyes of Sraffa himself, using archival resources to uncover the philosophical underpinnings of the book in the work of Wittgenstein and others. Read more

The London and Cambridge Economic Service: New Perspectives on the History of Economic Thought and Economic History

Project Leader: 

The project aims to rescue the work of the London and Cambridge Economic Service (LCES). Founded in 1922 by rivals Cambridge University and the London School of Economics (LSE), the LCES was arguably the first body in Britain to collect and disseminate economic statistics. Staffed by a host of eminent economists, including Keynes and Hayek, the LCES archive at the LSE is an untapped treasure trove for those interested in how early macroeconomic theories were developed and how data was used to analyse key episodes in 20th century British, European, and US economic history.

Keynes(ians) and Hayek(ians) from the Great Depression to the Long Recession

Project Leader: 

This project will survey major trends in macroeconomics thinking on Cycles, Crises, and Economic Policy. The project will re-examine the debates around the time of the Great Depression and compare them with those before and since the start of the Long Recession in 2007/8, focusing on Keynes and Hayek and their followers. The debates covered include the important economic deliberations that shaped modern macro policy in the world. The project will emphasize the role of crises in formulating macroeconomic policy, in particular fiscal and monetary policy. The lack of a major crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s naturally caused economic theory to focus mainly on secular growth, and to some extent on cycles, while ignoring crises. Read more

Paul Samuelson and the History of Economics

    Paul Samuelson is well-known to have been a compulsive citer and for having a particular Whig program for the history of economics. Until late in his career he kept writing on "old economists" like Cassel, Böhm-Bawerk, and Ricardo, for example (for instance, see his co-authored article on Ricardo published in HOPE in 2006) . Read more

ASSA Meetings: a Showcase for the History of Economics?

    Economists and historians of economics have related differently over time, and the past of the discipline has then served for varied purposes. The matter compounds when we take into account that it has been and it currently is the case that most historians of economics are in economics departments. Besides sharing the same institutional space, they also share one important event: the annual meeting of the Allied Social Science Associations (ASSA). Read more