Saturday, October 26, 2013

An Alternative Economics

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.

  1. Maybe the history of political economy is overdetermined, in some sense. So I am not sure what this counterfactual would entail.
  2. 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.
  3. I have been reading a little of Tony Lawson.
  4. As far as I am concerned, these are accounts of empirical research.

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