Saturday, March 19, 2016

Post Keynesianism From The Outside

Post Keynesian economics has been under development for about three quarters of a century now. Academics in countries around the world have made contributions to the theory and to its application. And they have participated in many common practices of academics, including economists1.

Post Keynesians have written and published papers in peer-reviewed journals. Over this time-span, such journals include widely referenced mainstream journals, such as the American Economic Review, the Economic Journal, the Journal of Economic Literature, the Journal of Political Economy, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics2. Lately, certain specialized journals have proven more sympathetic to publishing Post Keynesians. Such journals include, for example, the Cambridge Journal of Economics, the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Kyklos, and the Review of Political Economy. The list suggests two other activities: the founding and editing of journals. As I understand it, Joan Robinson, among other economists now thought of as Post Keynesian, participated in the founding of the Review of Economic Studies, while the Review of Keynesian Economics is a more recent academic journal with an analogous start. The Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, the Canadian Journal of Economics, and Metroeconomica are some journals, while not being specifically heterodox, I guess, had Post Keynesians as editors for some time3, 4.

Participation in professional societies, as officers, as organizers of conferences and conference sessions, and as presenters at conferences, provides another typical venue for academic activities. Naturally, Post Keynesians have performed such activities. For example, John Kenneth Galbraith was president of the American Economic Society, and the annual meeting of the Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA), held in conjunction with the American Economics Association, regularly holds sessions dedicated to Post Keynesian topics. Recently, heterodox economics have become interested in pluralism and how their concerns overlap. These concerns have been reflected in much work in many professional societies relating to heterodox economics.

I began this article with journal publications because economics has become less focused on books and more focused on journal publications during the period in which Post Keynesianism grew. But during this period, Post Keynesians have also made original contributions in books published by prestige university and academic presses. I think, for example, of presses associated with Cambridge, Columbia, and Harvard, to pick some examples at random5.

After decades of work, a need will arise to introduce others to it. And Post Keynesians have addressed this need with anthologies of classic papers, introductory works for other economists, and textbooks. One can also find Post Keynesians editing, or participating in the development, of standard reference works6.

On a more local level, Post Keynesian economists have participated in the governance of economic departments around the world7. And they have provided governments with advice many a time, from within and without8.

I have deliberately not written about substantial Post Keynesian ideas in this post. If one is aware of the history mentioned in this post, even if one had never been exposed to Post Keynesian ideas, one must conclude Post Keynesian theory is much like any other set of academic ideas. One would have difficulty in seeing how academics could justify dismissing these ideas without engaging with them Likewise, one might wonder how, perhaps, those aspiring to be professional economists might not even be exposed to Post Keynesianism in gaining a post graduate degree. Yet, apparently, such a happenstance seems to be not at all rare among mainstream economists.

  1. I recognize my post is biased towards the English language. It is also quite impressionistic and selective. I am taking Sraffians as Post Keynesians for the purposes of this post.
  2. Major contributions to the Cambridge Capital Controversy are to be found in these journals.
  3. For example, Paolo Sylos Labini for the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Athanasios Asimakopulos for the Canadian Journal of Economics, and Neri Salvadori for Metroeconomica.
  4. For what it is worth, I am published in the Manchester School.
  5. How would one characterize Edward Elgar and Routledge, for example?
  6. The first edition of the New Palgrave is an obvious example.
  7. Economics at Cambridge University is an obvious case. Albert Eichner chairing the Rutgers economics department is another case.
  8. Examples include Nicholas Kaldor's work with the Radcliffe Committee, John Kenneth Galbraith giving advice to John F. Kennedy, the advocacy of Tax-based Income Policies (TIPs) in the 1970s to fight stagflation, and policy suggestions associated with Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).


Matias Vernengo said...

It's not that the journals you cite (I would add Contributions to Political Economy, Metroeconomica, that are edited by Sraffians, and Intervention) are more open, which they are, to post-Keynesians. But that mainstream journals closed the doors. The CJE was created because with the move of the Economic Journal to Oxford the younger generation in Cambridge knew that they would be unable to publish. The closing of minds in the mainstream was central

Robert Vienneau said...

Thanks for the additions to the list of journals.