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.
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.
This paper surveys the development of the concept of socialism from the French Revolution to the socialist calculation debate. Karl Marx’s politics of revolutionary socialism led by an empowered proletariat nurtured by capital accumulation envisions socialism as a “top-down” system resting on political institutions, despite Marx’s keen appreciation of the long-period analysis of the organization of social production in the classical political economists. Collectivist thinking in the work of Enrico Barone and Wilfredo Pareto paved the way for the discussion of socialism purely in terms of the allocation of resources. The Soviet experiment abandoned the mixed economy model of the New Economic Policy for a political-bureaucratic administration of production only loosely connected to theoretical concepts of socialism. The socialist calculation debate reductively recast the problem of socialism as a problem of allocation of resources, leading to general equilibrium theory. Friedrich Hayek responded to the socialist calculation debate by shifting the ground of discussion from class relations to information revelation
"Alexander Kravchuk is an economist and editor at Commons: Journal for Social Criticims, who has previously written about IMF conditions on loans to Ukraine. Jacobin’s David Broder asked him about the country’s economic situation and why debt cancellation is important if Ukrainians are to be able to shape their future." (quote from the interview)
This course teaches basic concepts relevant in political economy. Topics include the contractual nature of the state, public versus private goods, property rights and economic externalities, the logic of collective action and social choice theory. It also refers to the fundamentals of political philosophy, bringing two ideas of liberty into the picture. The relevance and limitations of the economic approach to the study of law and politics are then discussed.
Rethinking Business is a volume of thought-provoking researches that sets out to challenge the paradigm of business along the areas of governance, finance, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability.
Despite the Doha declaration of November 2001, the failure to start a new round of global trade negotiations at Seattle in December 1999 and the hostility of protesters to the trade liberalization process and growing global economic and social disparities was a wake-up call for the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Ecological economics addresses one of the fundamental flaws in conventional economics--its failure to consider biophysical and social reality in its analyses and equations. Ecological Economics: Principles and Applications is an introductory-level textbook that offers a pedagogically complete examination of this dynamic new field.
Free, Fair & Alive is a foundational re-thinking of the commons, the self-organized social systems that human beings have used for millennia to meet their needs.
There are three things one can do in this website - 1. Learn 2. Help Teach 3. Sign up MOOC. This is a semester-long graduate course in Econometrics. This course is intended for graduate students in economics-related fields and more generally in social sciences. The course includes an overview of the models and theory and applications using Stata, R, or SAS programs. This econometrics class covers about 15 of the most commonly used econometric models in economics, such as linear regression, panel data models, probit and logit models, limited dependent variable models, count data models, time series models, and many more.
Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century is the most widely discussed work of economics in recent history, selling millions of copies in dozens of languages. But are its analyses of inequality and economic growth on target? Where should researchers go from here in exploring the ideas Piketty pushed to the forefront of global conversation? A cast of economists and other social scientists tackle these questions in dialogue with Piketty, in what is sure to be a much-debated book in its own right.
This is a recording of an introductory course held at the 4th International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Leipzig in 2014. Federico Demaria from the French-Spanish organisation Research and Degrowth gives an introduction to degrowth. The presentation is based on the introduction to the book “Degrowth. A vocabulary for a new era.” and discusses definitions of degrowth, degrowth literature, debates, history and further research to be done.
In this interview, Daron Acemoğlu provides a definition of institutions as rules that govern how individuals interact and speaks about social, political and economic institutions. He furthermore presents his view on bad or good institutions and the importance of the latter. The video is part of a larger interview, where he elaborates his perspective on differing prosperities of states and the relation between growth and democracy.
Silvia Federici illustrates the potential of the concept of the commons as way of resistance and reorganization of the society in times of social injustice and ecological crisis. Amongst others, she outlines the role of women in the commons movement. Federici explains why she regards the theory of the tragedy of the commons as unfounded and why she considers Marx's concept of primitive accumulation as still appropriate to describe current events of deprivation, such as land grabbing.
Stiglitz answers the question why globalization and world trade has not delivered on its promise of increased well being as much as classical economists thought, by pointing to the power asymmetries: firstly, between industrialized nations and developing nations and secondly, between special corporate interest and social interests. In his analysis, developed countries and MNCs were able to extract the benefits, while shifting the costs (i.e. pollution) to states and communities with lesser power. Amongst many other historical examples the pharmaceutical and the mining industry are discussed to some length.
Galbraith first explores the social darwinism of Herbert Spencer and others that served as apology for the highly unequal distribution of wealth in the US at the end of the 19th century and naturalized differences in wealth by appealing to the concept of natural selection of the fittest. Then some instances of the unscrupulous business practices (i.e. robberies) of the American railroad tycoons and other business magnates are recounted. Lastly, Galbraith lines out some of the arguments of Thorstein Veblen, who delegitimized and ridiculed the business and leisure activities of the rich by putting them in the same category as predatory and ritualized practices of primitive or ancient societies.
The documentary proceeds along the lines of Karl Marx' biography, inquiring into his workings as a journalist, social scientist, revolutionary and historian and his travels through Europe. In chronological order historical events, such as the 1848 revolution or the Paris Commune as well as concepts such as dialectics, the labour theory of value or the reform-revolution debate are revisited. The documentary is narrated by John Kenneth Galbraith and by an actor, who plays Marx and recites quotes from his writings.
Irene van Staveren, professor of pluralist development economics, presents her pluralist teaching method for the introductory level. Based on her textbook “Economics After the Crisis: An Introduction to Economics from a Pluralist and Global Perspective” she suggests to focus on real-world problems and pari passu apply economic theories such as Social economics, Institutional economics, Post-Keynesian economics as well as Neoclassical economics without wasting time to single out the latter. Besides pointing out advantages of such a pluralist method Irene illustrates her approach based on interesting topics such as growth or feminist economics.
In this short Video Silke Helfrich discusses the basics of commons. It’s an introduction into the essence of commons from a perspective stemming from outside the economic discipline that focuses on social practice. Her perception challenges the economic mainstream’s perception of common goods and goes beyond a purely materialistic conceptualisation of commons.
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.
This paper investigates how the concept of public purpose is used in Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). As a common denominator among political scientists, the idea of public purpose is that economic actions should aim at benefiting the majority of the society. However, the concept is to be considered as an ideal of a vague nature, which is highly dependent on societal context and, hence, subject to change over time. MMT stresses that government spending plans should be designed to pursue a certain socio-economic mandate and not to meet any particular financial outcome. The concept of public purpose is heavily used in this theoretical body of thought and often referred to in the context of policy proposals as the ideas of universal job guarantee and banking reform proposals show. MMT scholars use the concept as a pragmatic benchmark against which policies can be assessed. With regards to the definition of public propose, MMT scholars agree that it is dependent on the social-cultural context. Nevertheless, MMT scholars view universal access to material means of survival as universally applicable and in that sense as the lowest possible common denominator.
Global Value Chains (GVCs) started to play an increasing and key role in the global economy from the 1990s on. The market mechanism in GVCs supports industrialisation in the Global South and under certain conditions product and process upgrading. But GVCs do not lead to the catching-up of countries in the sense of them approaching real GDP per capita levels comparable with developed countries. These arguments are supported by a critical interpretation of the traditional trade theory, the New Trade Theory and specific approaches to explain GVCs, especially different governance structures and power relationships. Several case studies support these arguments. For catching-up, countries need comprehensive horizontal and vertical industrial policy and policies for social coherence. The small number of countries which managed to catch up did this in different variations.
Since the 1980s, the financial sector and its role have increased significantly. This development is often referred to as financialization. Authors working in the heterodox tradition have raised the question whether the changing role of finance manifests a new era in the history of capitalism. The present article first provides some general discussion on the term financialization and presents some stylized facts which highlight the rise of finance. Then, it proceeds by briefly reviewing the main arguments in the Marxian framework that proposedly lead to crisis. Next, two schools of thought in the Marxian tradition are reviewed which consider financialization as the latest stage of capitalism. They highlight the contradictions imposed by financialization that disrupt the growth process and also stress the fragilities imposed by the new growth regime. The two approaches introduced here are the Social Structure of Accumulation Theory and Monthly Review School. The subsequent part proceeds with the Post-Keynesian theory, first introducing potential destabilizing factors before discussing financialization and the finance-led growth regime. The last section provides a comparative summary. While the basic narrative in all approaches considered here is quite similar, major differences stem from the relationship between neoliberalism and financialization and, moreover, from the question of whether financialization can be considered cause or effect.
Right-wing populism and market-fundamentalism: Two mutually reinforcing threats to democracy in the 21st century
The article compares market fundamentalism and right-wing populism on the basis of its core patterns of thinking and reasoning. Based on an analysis of important texts in both fields we find many similarities of these two concepts in their "inner images". Thus, we develop a scheme of the similar dual social worlds of right-wing-populism and market fundamentalism and offer some recent examples of market fundamentalism and right-wing populism mutually reinforcing each other or serving as a gateway for each other. We then apply our scheme for the analysis of the recent political developments and its ideological roots in the US under Donald Trump.
This paper presents an overview of different models which explain financial crises, with the aim of understanding economic developments during and possibly after the Great Recession. In the first part approaches based on efficient markets and rational expectations hypotheses are analyzed, which however do not give any explanation for the occurrence of financial crises and thus cannot suggest any remedies for the present situation. A broad range of theoretical approaches analyzing financial crises from a medium term perspective is then discussed. Within this group we focused on the insights of Marx, Schumpeter, Wicksell, Hayek, Fisher, Keynes, Minsky, and Kindleberger. Subsequently the contributions of the Regulation School, the approach of Social Structures of Accumulation and Post-Keynesian approach, which focus on long-term developments and regime shifts in capitalist development, are presented. International approaches to finance and financial crises are integrated into the analyses. We address the issue of relevance of all these theories for the present crisis and draw some policy implications. The paper has the aim to find out to which extent the different approaches are able to explain the Great Recession, what visions they develop about future development of capitalism and to which extent these different approaches can be synthesized.
How did the coronavirus almost bring down the Global Financial System? What effects does monetary policy have on inequality? What role do Central Banks have in the social-ecological transformation? How could Central Banks tackle climate change? What is Central Bank Digital Currency?
The Money View Symposium was hosted by YSI on 5-7 February, 2021. The Symposium showcased the work of scholars and practitioners that make use of the so-called Money View, ranging from economists to lawyers, politicians and social scientists at large. The symposium aims to illuminate the main tenets of the Money View and to demonstrate its juxtaposition to the mainstream.
This article provides a contextual framework for understanding the gendered dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic and its health, social, and economic outcomes. The pandemic has generated massive losses in lives, impacted people’s health, disrupted markets and livelihoods, and created profound reverberations in the home. In 112 countries that reported sex-disaggregated data on COVID-19 cases, men showed an overall higher infection rate than women, and an even higher mortality rate. However, women’s relatively high representation in sectors hardest hit by lockdown orders has translated into larger declines in employment for women than men in numerous countries. Evidence also indicates that stay-at-home orders have increased unpaid care workloads, which have fallen disproportionately to women. Further, domestic violence has increased in frequency and severity across countries. The article concludes that policy response strategies to the crisis by women leaders have contributed to more favorable outcomes compared to outcomes in countries led by men.
In this podcast, Nalia Kabeer talks about her work, criticising the way in which Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) is adopted as a sole form of impact assessment. At the beginning of the talk, she briefly describes The Ultra Poor Project (the context of her study), RCTs and its critiques (such as lack of acknowledgement of human agency, heterogeneity, and social context); also, the problem that most RCTs practitioners do not allow for qualitative research conducted in an integrated way as it might cause their studies “being contaminated.”
In this interview Ilya Matveev discusses the social, political, economic, and ideological foundations of the Russian regime, to provide additional context about Russia’s geopolitical goals.
Understanding the financial crisis from four very different economic theories: Social Economics, Institutional Economics, Post Keynesian economics.
Aim of this intensive workshop is 1.) to introduce the participants to the macroeconomic workings of the climate crisis as the background of sustainable finance; 2.) to introduce financial assets with ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria attached to them and their markets and important institutional players; 3.) to provide a critical perspective on the current setup of sustainable finance; 4.) and to work on in-depth case studies illustrating the workings on ESG-finance markets, its emitters and traders as well as their macroeconomic implications.