Who are the greatest economists of, say, the last fifty years? I suggest the shortlist for many academic economists would include Kenneth Arrow, Milton Friedman, and Paul A. Samuelson. Imagine1 a world in which the typical academic economist would be inclined to name the following as exemplars:
- Fernand Braudel
- John Kenneth Galbraith
- Albert Hirschman
- Gunnar Myrdal
- Karl Polanyi.
These economists did not insist on using closed, formal, mathematical models2 everywhere3. They tended to present their findings in detailed historical and qualitative accounts4.Footnotes
- Maybe the history of political economy is overdetermined, in some sense. So I am not sure what this counterfactual would entail.
- They did use or, at least, comment on small mathematical models, where appropriate. For example, both Hirshman and Myrdal had cautions about the Harrod-Domar model.
- I have been reading a little of Tony Lawson.
- As far as I am concerned, these are accounts of empirical research.