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614 results

2020
Level: beginner
Michael Kalecki famously remarked “I have found out what economics is; it is the science of confusing stocks with flows”. Stock-Flow Consistent (SFC) models were developed precisely to address this kind of confusion. The basic intuition of SFC models is that the economy is built up as a set of intersecting balance sheets, where transactions between entities are called flows and the value of the assets/liabilities they hold are called stocks. Wages are a flow; bank deposits are a stock, and confusing the two directly is a category error. In this edition of the pluralist showcase I will first describe the logic of SFC models – which is worth exploring in depth – before discussing empirical calibration and applications of the models. Warning that there is a little more maths in this post than usual (i.e. some), but you should be able to skip those parts and still easily get the picture.
2020
Level: beginner
One of the pluralist theories which has gained prominence following the 2008 financial crisis is Hyman Minsky and his Financial Instability Hypothesis (FIH). Minsky was unique in viewing balance sheets and financial flows as the primary components of capitalist economies, and his focus on the financial system meant he was well-equipped for foresee a crisis much like 2008. Although he died long before 2008 his framework anticipated many of the processes which led to the crash, particularly increased risk-taking and financial innovation which would outstrip the abilities of regulators and central banks to manage the system.
2020
Level: beginner
How long the COVID-19 crisis will last, and what its immediate economic costs will be, is anyone's guess. But even if the pandemic's economic impact is contained, it may have already set the stage for a debt meltdown long in the making, starting in many of the Asian emerging and developing economies on the front lines of the outbreak.
2020
Level: beginner
Markets are the focus in modern economics: when they work, when they don’t and what we can or can’t do about it. There are many ways to study markets and how we do so will inevitably affect our conclusions about them, including policy recommendations which can influence governments and other major organisations. Pluralism can be a vital corrective to enacting real policies based on only one perspective and a plethora of approaches provide alternatives to the canonical view. Although they have differing implications, these approaches share the idea that we should take a historical approach, analysing markets on a case-by-case basis; and they share a faith in the power of both individuals and collectives to overcome the problems encountered when organising economic activity.
2020
Level: advanced
The world is coping with a global disaster, as the new Coronavirus takes a toll on many lost lives and a severe impact on economic activity. To provide a long-run perspective, this column documents the international response to a variety of disasters since 1790. Based on a new comprehensive database on loans extended by governments and central banks, official (sovereign-to-sovereign) international lending is much larger than generally known. Official lending spikes in times of global turmoil, such as wars, financial crises or natural disasters. Indeed, in these periods, official capital flows have repeatedly surpassed total private capital flows in the past two centuries. Wars, in particular, were accompanied by large surges in the volume of official cross-border lending.
2017
Level: advanced
Marxist scholar David Harvey explains key concepts of capital from Marx. Applying Marx's analysis of capital to today's world, showing both the longevity and relevance of Marx's Capital, 150 years after its publication.
2020
Level: advanced
Richard Werner touches on a number of topics in this Odd Lots Podcast episode. As one of the pioneers when it comes to money and credit creation, he gives interesting insights into his early research on this topic. He then explains what he calls the “Quantity Theory of Credit” and is an alternative to the "Quantity Theory of Money".
2020
Level: beginner
In this series of webinars, several researchers face different topics related to Degrowth. Money, health, Green New Deal, Anarchism, and many more.
2020
Level: beginner
Environmental catastrophe looms large over politics: from the young person’s climate march to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, increasing amounts of political space are devoted to the issue. Central to this debate is the question of whether economic growth inevitably leads to environmental issues such as depleted finite resources and increased waste, disruption of natural cycles and ecosystems, and of course climate change. Growth is the focal point of the de-growth and zero-growth movements who charge that despite efficiency gains, increased GDP always results in increased use of energy and emissions. On the other side of the debate, advocates of continued growth (largely mainstream economists) believe that technological progress and policies can ‘decouple’ growth from emissions.
2020
Level: beginner
How countries achieve long-term GDP growth is up there with the most important topics in economics. As Nobel Laureate Robert Lucas put it “the consequences for human welfare involved in questions like these are simply staggering: once one starts to think about them, it is hard to think about anything else.” Ricardo Hausmann et al take a refreshing approach to this question in their Atlas of Economic Complexity. They argue a country’s growth depends on the complexity of its economy: it must have a diverse economy which produces a wide variety of products, including ones that cannot be produced much elsewhere. The Atlas goes into detail on exactly what complexity means, how it fits the data, and what this implies for development. Below I will offer a summary of their arguments, including some cool data visualisations.
2020
Level: beginner
Economists like to base their theories on individual decision making. Individuals, the idea goes, have their own interests and preferences, and if we don’t include these in our theory we can’t be sure how people will react to changes in their economic circumstances and policy. While there may be social influences, in an important sense the buck stops with individuals. Understanding how individuals process information to come to decisions about their health, wealth and happiness is crucial. You can count me as someone who thinks that on the whole, this is quite a sensible view.
2020
Level: beginner
In this podcast, Laura Basu speaks with a range of expert academics and public speakers – such as Jayati Ghosh, Yanis Varoufakis, Walden Bello, and Ashish Kothari about how the rules of the global economy are fostering the inequality and underdevelopment we see today.
2014
Level: advanced
Most mainstream neoclassical economists completely failed to anticipate the crisis which broke in 2007 and 2008. There is however a long tradition of economic analysis which emphasises how growth in a capitalist economy leads to an accumulation of tensions and results in periodic crises. This paper first reviews the work of Karl Marx who was one of the first writers to incorporate an analysis of periodic crisis in his analysis of capitalist accumulation. The paper then considers the approach of various subsequent Marxian writers, most of whom locate periodic cyclical crises within the framework of longer-term phases of capitalist development, the most recent of which is generally seen as having begun in the 1980s. The paper also looks at the analyses of Thorstein Veblen and Wesley Claire Mitchell, two US institutionalist economists who stressed the role of finance and its contribution to generating periodic crises, and the Italian Circuitist writers who stress the problematic challenge of ensuring that bank advances to productive enterprises can successfully be repaid.
2020
Level: beginner
Neoclassical Economics imposed itself over the past decades as the core of mainstream economics, largely influencing academia and policy making.
2020
Level: beginner
The most successful multialternative theories of decision making assume that people consider individual aspects of a choice and proceed via a process of elimination. Amos Tversky was one of the pioneers of this field, but modern decision theorists – most notably Neil Stewart – have moved things forward. At the current stage the theories are able to explain a number of strictly ‘irrational’ but reasonable quirks of human decision making, including various heuristics and biases. Not only this, but eye movements of participants strongly imply that the decision-making process depicted in the theories is an accurate one.
2020
Level: beginner
In both economics textbooks and public perceptions central banks are a fact of life. On the wall of my A-level economics classroom there was the Will Rogers quote “there have been three great inventions since the beginning of time: fire, the wheel, and central banking”, summarising how many economists view the institution. There is a widespread belief that there is something different about money which calls for a central authority to manage its operation, a view shared even by staunch free marketeers such as Milton Friedman. This belief is not without justification, since money underpins every transaction in a way that apples do not, but we should always be careful not to take existing institutions for granted and central banking is no exception. In this post I will look at the idea of private or free banking, where banks compete (and cooperate) to issue their own currency.
2018
Level: beginner
This text summarizes the content of the 2018 Nobel Prize winner W. Nordhaus. It is extended by some critical perspectives on this topic. The short dossier gives an overview of the most important texts we have read in the climate economics reading group.
2020
Level: beginner
One method of economic modelling that has become increasingly popular in academia, government and the private sector is Agent Based Models, or ABM. These simulate the actions and interactions of thousands or even millions of people to try to understand the economy – for this reason ABM was once described to me as being “like Sim City without the graphics”. One advantage of ABM is that it is flexible, since you can choose how many agents there are (an agent just means some kind of 'economic decision maker' like a firm, consumer, worker or government); how they behave (do they use complicated or simple rules to make decisions?); as well as the environment they act in, then just run the simulation and see what happens as they interact over time.
Level: advanced
"Bank Underground" is the staff blog of the Bank of England, founded to publish the views and insights of the people working for one of the world's oldest central banks. The blog covers a wide range of macroeconomic topics, mostly linked to the effects of monetary policy, of course, but not all the time. It provides timely, relevant analysis of contemporary challenges in economic policy and is thus often a perfect primer.
2015
Level: advanced
The principle of effective demand, and the claim of its validity for a monetary production economy in the short and in the long run, is the core of heterodox macroeconomics, as currently found in all the different strands of post-Keynesian economics (Fundamentalists, Kaleckians, Sraffians, Kaldorians, Institutionalists) and also in some strands of neo-Marxian economics, particularly in the monopoly capitalism and underconsumptionist school In this contribution, we will therefore outline the foundations of the principle of effective demand and its relationship with the respective notion of a capitalist or a monetary production economy in the works of Marx, Kalecki and Keynes. Then we will deal with heterodox short-run macroeconomics and it will provide a simple short-run model which is built on the principle of effective demand, as well as on distribution conflict between different social groups (or classes): rentiers, managers and workers. Finally, we will move to the long run and we will review the integration of the principle of effective demand into heterodox/post-Keynesian approaches towards distribution and growth.
2016
Level: advanced
In spite of the manifold critique about the state of economics in the aftermath of the financial crisis, an even increasing presence of economists and economic experts can be observed in the public sphere during the last years. On the one hand this reflects the still dominant position of economics in the social sciences as well as the sometimes ignorant attitude of economists towards findings of other social sciences. On the other hand this paper shows that the public debate on politico-economic issues among economists is dominated by a specific subgroup of economists, tightly connected to an institutional network of “German neoliberalism”. This group of “public economists” (i) is dominant in public debates even after the financial crisis, (ii) reproduces the formative German economic imaginary of the Social Market Economy in a German neoliberal interpretation and (iii) has a good access to German economic policymaking, rooted in a long history of economic policy advice.
2020
Level: beginner
Pluralism includes mainstream economics. Our campaign for pluralism, including this series, have generally focused on ideas outside the mainstream on the basis that it gets plenty of attention already so we want to spend our time exposing people to alternatives. Nevertheless, mainstream ideas deserve some attention. On top of this, a curious feature of modern economics education is that some of the best ideas from mainstream economics are not even taught to undergraduates! During this series I will explore such ideas, starting today with the market construction technique known as ‘matching’.
2012
Level: advanced
In this paper the main developments in post-Keynesian macroeconomics since the mid- 1990s will be reviewed. For this purpose the main differences between heterodox economics in general, including post-Keynesian economics, and orthodox economics will be reiterated and an overview over the strands of post-Keynesian economics, their commonalities and developments since the 1930s will be outlined. This will provide the grounds for touching upon three important areas of development and progress of post-Keynesian macroeconomics since the mid-1990s: first, the integration of distribution issues and distributional conflict into short- and long-run macroeconomics, both in theoretical and in empirical/applied works; second, the integrated analysis of money, finance and macroeconomics and its application to changing institutional and historical circumstances, like the process of financialisation; and third, the development of full-blown macroeconomic models, providing alternatives to the mainstream 'New Consensus Model' (NCM), and allowing to derive a full macroeconomic policy mix as a more convincing alternative to the one implied and proposed by the mainstream NCM, which has desperately failed in the face of the recent crises.
2018
Level: beginner
In this one-on-one interview, co-host Gerardo Serra talks with Felwine Sarr, author of Afrotopia (2016) and professor of economics at Gaston Berger University in Senegal. Topics include the relevance (or lack thereof) of development economics to conditions in African economies, the significance of African philosophy for thinking about the economic problems of the continent, and the status of the field of history of economic thought in Africa.
2020
Level: advanced
An essay of the writing workshop on Nigeria’s Readiness for and the Effect of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
2020
Level: beginner
If there’s one method economists have neglected the most, it’s qualitative research. Whereas economists favour mathematical models and statistics, qualitative research seeks to understand the world through intensive investigation of particular circumstances, which usually entails interviewing people directly about their experiences. While this may sound simple to quantitative types the style, purpose, context, and interpretation of an interview can vary widely. Because of this variety, I have written a longer post than usual on this topic rather than doing it a disservice. Having said that, examples of qualitative research in economics are sadly scant enough that it doesn’t warrant multiple posts. In this post I will introduce qualitative research in general with nods to several applications including the study of firm behaviour, race, Austrian economics, and health economics. More than usual I will utilise block quotes, which I feel is in the spirit of the topic.
2021
Level: beginner
This paper is a product of an online workshop held in Nigeria on the topic Unemployment: Policy Review and Recommendations. It explores the various unemployment policies introduced by the Nigerian Government and analysis how effective they are and suggests some practicable solutions to solving unemployment problems in the country. The workshop was organized by Rethinking Economics The Uploaders (RETU) as part of the project Solving the Major Economic Problem in Nigeria (SMEPN), an output of the Global Pluralist Economics Training (GPET). More details here: https://www.retheuploaders.org/programs/SMEPN
2020
Level: beginner
The mandate of central banks has seemed clear for decades : keep inflation low. Nevertheless borders between monetary, financial and economic policy have been blurry even before the pandemic.. Faced with the challenges of the climate crisis, slow growth, unemployment and inequality, does the financial and monetary system need a new constitutional purpose.
2019
Level: advanced
Modern authors have identified a variety of striking economic patterns, most importantly those involving the distribution of incomes and profit rates. In recent times, the econophysics literature has demonstrated that bottom incomes follow an exponential distribution, top incomes follow a Pareto, profit rates display a tent-shaped distribution. This paper is concerned with the theory underlying various explanations of these phenomena. Traditional econophysics relies on energy-conserving “particle collision” models in which simulation is often used to derive a stationary distribution. Those in the Jaynesian tradition rely on entropy maximization, subject to certain constraints, to infer the final distribution. This paper argues that economic phenomena should be derived as results of explicit economic processes. For instance, the entry and exit process motivated by supply decisions of firms underlies the drift-diffusion form of wage, interest and profit rates arbitrage. These processes give rise to stationary distributions that turn out to be also entropy maximizing. In arbitrage approach, entropy maximization is a result. In the Jaynesian approaches, entropy maximization is the means.
2019
Level: advanced
Exploring Economics, an open-access e-learning platform, giving you the opportunity to discover & study a variety of economic theories, topics, and methods.
2019
Level: beginner
This course introduces students to the relevance of gender relations in economics as a discipline and in economic processes and outcomes. The course covers three main components of gender in economics and the economy: (1) the gendered nature of the construction and reproduction of economic theory and thought; (2) the relevance and role of gender in economic decision-making; and (3) differences in economic outcomes based on gender. We will touch on the relevance of gender and gender relations in at least each of the following topics: economic theory; the history of economic thought; human capital accumulation; labor market discrimination; macroeconomic policy, including gender budgeting; household economics; basic econometrics; economic history; and economic crises.
2016
Level: advanced
This brief note explores the possibility of working towards an enlarged self-definition of economics through economists’ study and appreciation of economic sociology. Common ground between economic sociology and heterodox economics is explored, and some of Richard Sennett’s ideas are used as prompts to raise some pertinent and hopefully interesting questions about economics. In particular, the note revisits the question of whether there is a possibility of changing our understanding of what kind of social scientific work falls within the domain of economics proper once we start critically engaging with work conventionally considered to be outside of that domain. In part, the note is intended to offer undergraduate students in economics – and possibly even those further down the road in their education – food for thought about what constitutes economics.

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