1822. Economics on the defensive, not offensive.

Dani Rodrik has a fairly new book.( 2015) I decided to read while looking for who is trying new economic thinking.

Gets a good review for example from Dian Coyle.

“But I hope open-minded critics of economics will read Economics Rules to learn how the best of economists approach the subject, and how important their work is.

Rodrik starts the book with

This book has its origins in a course I taught with Roberto Mangabeira Unger on political economy for several years at Harvard. In his inimitable fashion, Roberto pushed me to think hard about the strengths and weaknesses of economics and to articulate what I found useful in the economic method. The discipline had become sterile and stale, Roberto argued, because economics had given up on grand social theorizing in the style of Adam Smith and Karl Marx. I pointed out, in turn, that the strength of economics lay precisely in small-scale theorizing, the kind of contextual thinking that claries cause and eect and sheds light—even if partial—on social reality. A modest science practiced with humility, I argued, is more likely to be useful than a search for universal theories about how capitalist systems function or what determines wealth and poverty around the world.”

“A modest science..more useful than .. about how capitalism functions or what determines wealth or poverty.”

More useful? To whom? I like Unger so the idea that they did a course together got my curiosity up and discovered that Unger and Cornel West are doing a course together now and on it is on line. But first, Rodrik gives a few example of “good economics.”

This is one is central.

” He [the economist] recommended that fares be increased at peak times and in sections with high traffic, and be lowered at other times and in other sections. This system of “congestion pricing” was nothing other than the application of economic supply-demand principles to public transport. It reduced car-bon emissions, and generated considerable revenue for the Singaporean authorities to boot.”

So we know that working people are stuck wih a fixed time frame so they will pay the highest rates. Very regressive. Why doesn’t Rodrik see this? Then “more revenue” for the state which means taxes can be lower. To me Rodrik’s thinking is just not dealing with the obvious. How can he get his mind in such a warp in a book that is saying it is reevaluating the god and bad f economics practice?

Must see Roberto Unger and Cornell West at Harvard Law.

American Democracy course – February 2
Rodrik continues t be an interesting thinker but too defensive of standard economics and not seeing to the needs of a population that could reject Clinton and reluctantly (for many) vote in Trump.. Here he is better for example in his review of Karl Polanyi on his website. http://rodrik.typepad.com/ for march 8.




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