Friday, November 01, 2019

Keen's Debunking Economics Most Popular Among Popular Critiques

Table 1: Selected Critiques
Moshe AdlerEconomics for the Rest of Us214
Rod Hill & Tony MyattThe Economics Anti-Textbook134
Steve KeenDebunking Economics, 1st edition253 to 4
Debunking Economics, 2nd edition564 to 5
Paul OrmerodThe Death of Economics103 to 4
John QuigginEconomics in Two Lessons24
John WeeksEconomics of the 1%134 to 5

Steve Keen seems to be the most popular of those writing internal critiques of economics directed towards the common reader. I selected the above books and looked at rankings on Amazon's United States website. You can spend lots of time reading the comments.

I am not sure about how to characterize this genre. I am more focused on theory than offering political programs. Would Robert Reich's Saving Capitalism be excluded? But what about memoirs, such as John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Stiglitz' Globalism and its Discontents, Thaler's Misbehaving, or Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow? These books seem to have much more ratings than the ones I list in the above table.

Why is Keen's book more popular than the other ones in the table? Keen often overstates his case. One reviewer said he confuses necessary conditions with sufficient ones. I'm covered here; I suggested to him, before publication of the first edition, that well-behaved aggregate excess demand curves might exist in special, numeric, cases even if all consumers did not have identical and homothetic preferences. But those who know of Alan Kirman's work, with others, in the 1970s know Keen has a point. You cannot find any other condition than Gorman form that is sufficient to have well-behaved aggregate excess demand curves. And this is true of many other of Keen's points. I had not realized before reading Keen that the standard textbook presentation of perfect competition assumes managers of firms are systematically mistaken in their understanding of the demand curves they face.

Anyways, neoclassical economics is mostly wrong or useless for internal, logical reasons.

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