Monday, January 28, 2013

James K. Galbraith — How the Economists Got It Wrong

An oldie but goodie from Jamie Galbraith, hat tip to Philip Pilkington.
The deeper problem is the nearly complete collapse of the prevailing economic theory--of the structure of thought that supports their policy ideas. It is a collapse so complete, so pervasive, that the profession can only deny it by refusing to discuss theoretical questions in the first place.

The prevailing theory is the idea that price and quantity are set in free competitive markets through the interaction of supply and demand. It is this idea, and no other, that lies at the core of the economist's way of thinking. And it is also the source of the profession's problem in getting almost anything important right.

The notion of supply and demand as the organizing principle for everything is a few decades more than a century old. (It was not so for Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, Marx, or Mill.) The key player in the Anglo-Saxon tradition is Alfred Marshall; in the continental tradition, no doubt, Leon Walras. In the twentieth century, great economists including Keynes, Joseph Schumpeter, and John Kenneth Galbraith have tried to break the grip of this notion on the professional imagination. But they have not succeeded.
The American Prospect (December 19, 2001)
How the Economists Got It Wrong
James K. Galbraith | Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in government-business relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, a senior scholar of the Levy Economics Institute, and chair of the Board of Economists for Peace and Security.


Market Research Reports said...

The economist should be written economists, because they all do it again each other. Industry Analysis

Academic Textbook said...

Galbraith makes an interesting point, but it's easy to blame economists. ISBN number search