Heterodox Economics Newsletter
While books on economics do regularly become bestsellers, it is a rare occastion to see such a bestseller cover relevant terrain in heterodox economics. And although a series of successful books with heterodox content reached a broader audience in recent years – just think of Mariana Mazzucato's Entrepreunerial State, Kate Raworth's Doughnut Economics or David Graeber's Debt: The first 5.000 years –, the frequency of such occasions is not very high. Hence, it is all the more reason to applaud the efforts of Stephanie Kelton, who seems to have landed such a bestseller with her recent book The Deficit Myth. The book deals with budgets, deficits and the potentials of central banking in the US from an MMT perspective and has found huge resonance in recent weeks. Although some of the more specific claims of MMT are controversially discussed also within heterodox circles, I think that a large majority of heterodox economists would agree that the dominant perception of public deficits in academic economics, political decision-making and public debate is somewhere between 'blurred' and 'distorted' and, hence, that any effort devoted to rectifying this is highly welcome.
While a change in perception on public deficits in the US and beyond seems to be also fuelled by the impact of the Corona-crisis, another important shift in perception is currently taking place in the US, where long-standing racist practices of social segregation and discrimination are now openly challenged on a large scale (see also these statements of solidarity from some heterodox economic associations). In this context, one should remember that the economic discipline has a long tradition, showing not only lack of (respect for) diversity, but also openly questioning the actual relevance of 'discrimination' at all. Just think of Gary Becker's models of discrimination (where discrimination is supposed to vanish because of the beneficial impact of market competition), Thomas Schelling's checkerboard model (which explains spatial segregation of blacks and whites solely in terms of individual preferences) or, most infamously, George Stigler's comments on the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s published under the title "The Negro problem".
The latter explains the subordinated position of people of color solely in terms of their individual capabilities & characteristics. In doing so, it is a quite cruel example of one of the normative subtleties of mainstream economics, namely the occasional transgression from methodological individualism ('solely individuals matter for analysis') to a crude version of a normative individualism, which allocates the responsibility for any plights fully to individuals and the decisions they make ('solely individual decisions determine well-being'). This routine explains away any structural features causing inequalities and allocates all the burden to the individuals, who obviously make poor choices – otherwise they would not experience any plight at all! The routine is visible when it comes to inequalities in the context of gender (as women are supposed to be too risk-averse to achieve high pay), development (as people in the global south are simply assumed to make poor choices, when not being guided by appropriate incentives or prescriptions), race (see Schelling or Stigler) or unemployment (which is not conceived as a structural feature of capitalism, but as an individual consequence of a lack of education, effort and training). This transgression from the ontological to the normative is still coining mainstream economics, although 'nudging' sounds admittedly less threatening than Stigler's openly racist application of the same underlying principle. But still, the principle is alive and well.
All the best,
PS: See also this nice list of suggestions for reforming economics to improve both, diversity in economics as well as the appreciation of structural sources of inequalites in economic analysis.
© public domain
Table of contents
- Call for Papers
- Journal of International Business Policy: Special Issue on "Managing, Theorizing and Policy Making in an Age of Social and Political Uncertainty"
- Call for book proposals: Elements on Global Development Studies
- ESHET 2020 Conference Rescheduled (Sofia, Sept. 2021)
- Forum for Social Economics: Special Issue on "The Rise of the Illiberal Right in Central and Eastern Europe. A Countermovement to Neoliberal Capitalism?"
- ILR Review: Conference and Special Issue on "Transnational Employment Relations in the European Union"
- International Conference "The Positive and the Normative in Economic Thought" (Paris, Dec. 2020)
- International Review of Sociology: Special Issue on "What does the Covid-19 crisis reveal about interdisciplinarity in social sciences?"
- New journal announcement: Work in the Global Economy
- Review of Social Economy: Special Issue on "Political Economies of Deprivation"
- Call for Participants
- 2nd Winter Institute for the History of Economic Thought (online, January 2021)
- Call for Speakers and Participants: International Webinar Series on "Postcolonial Institutions, Cognition and Behavoir"
- EAEPE 2020: Pre-Conference (online, Sept. 2020)
- Series of Webinars: Exploring Economic Challenges of our Time (Greenwich PERC and PEGFA)
- The Online Summer Academy 2020 - Global Pluralist Economics Training (online, August 2020)
- Job Postings
- Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), Netherlands
- KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm
- Leiden University, Netherlands
- Technical University Vienna, Austria
- University College London, UK
- University of Montpellier, France
- University of Oxford, UK (1/2)
- University of Oxford, UK (2/2)
- University of Trento, Italy
- Garegnani Thesis Prize 2020: Deadline postponement
- Winner Announcement: Distinguished Fellow Award
- Winner Announcement: The 2020 Joseph J. Spengler Best Book Prize
- Winner Announcement: The Craufurd Goodwin Best Article Prize
- Accounting, Organizations and Society 83
- Capital & Class 44 (2)
- Ecological Economics 175
- History of Economics Review 75 (1)
- Journal of Australian Political Economy 85
- Journal of Economic Issues 54 (2)
- Metroeconomica 71 (3)
- Problemas del Desarrollo. Revista Latinoamericana de Economía 51 (201)
- Review of Radical Political Economics 52 (2)
- The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought 27 (3)
- Books and Book Series
- African Economic Development
- Bankrupt in America: A History of Debtors, Their Creditors and the Law in the Twentieth Century
- Dimensions of Poverty: Measurement, Epistemic Injustices, Activism
- Europe’s Growth Champion: Insights from the Economic Rise of Poland
- Inequalities and the Progressive Era: Breakthroughs and Legacies
- Korean Skilled Workers: Toward a Labor Aristocracy
- Risk, Choice, and Uncertainty Three Centuries of Economic Decision-Making
- Social Class in Europe
- The Deficit Myth
- Heterodox Graduate Programs, Scholarships and Grants
- Master of Arts in Political Economy of Money and Development (Franklin University, Switzerland)
- Undergraduate Heterodox Economics Education (University of Rhode Island, US)
- Calls for Support
- Open Letter: "The Responsibility of the SA Reserve Bank"
- Petition on racial justice in UK Higher education
- For Your Information
- IAFFE: Statement of Solidarity
- National Economic Association: Statement of Solidarity
- The Association for Social Economics (ASE): Announcement
- URPE: Statement of Solidarity