History of Economic Thought

Do social movements create new ideas?

The short answer is yes. For the long answer I will make you sit through seven paragraphs. Read more

Economic theory declassified?

So, most Nobel Prize exegetes went a long way, this week, toward explaining that asset pricing is not primarily born out of theoretical reflection but out of prize-deserving empirical work.John Cochrane, for instance, writes about efficient markets that: Read more

Guy Numa "The Financial Crisis Five Years Later: The Role of Banking"

Present day puzzlements shed their complexity when Guy Numa in this essay draws on some age old distinctions borrowed from Jean-Baptiste Say. Numa is a INET Research Fellow who specializes in the History of Economic Thought and Industrial Organization.

Five years ago Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy marking the unofficial start of the latest financial crisis. Several commentators argued that the key to understanding the root cause of the crisis lies in the partial repeal of the Glass–Steagall provisions that occurred in the late 1990s. The provisions restricted commercial banks from participating in the investment banking business and therefore institutionalized a de facto separation of the two types of institutions. Read more

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.