The Future of Economics

The Great Recession created questions about mainstream economic policies and the theories they are based on. Some economists have stood their ground, affirming that the market has not failed, while others cite how the profession was blindsided as a sign that change is necessary. This blog shares the discourse among professionals, journalists and academics on the future of economic study. 

VIDEO: Interview with Thomas Piketty

On October 3, 2014, SCEPA hosted a discussion with Thomas Piketty, leading economist and best-selling author of "Capital in the Twenty-First Century." This is a brief interview prior to the discussion in which Piketty shares his unique view on economic science and what it means to be an economist.

Rethinking Economics Conference

Rethinking Economics Conference LogoThe 2014 Rethinking Economics NYC conference was an entirely student-run conference in New York City from September 12-14, 2014 at The New School, NYU and Columbia University.

Rethinking Economics is a global movement to create fresh economic narratives that challenge and enrich the predominant narratives in economics. The movement unites all who support new ways of thinking. The Rethinking Economics conference asked students to consider economic schools of thought beyond the mainstream neo-classical approach. The conference focused on the concept of economic pluralism: the belief that economics should be a more interdisciplinary subject that embraces useful ideas from various schools of thought and subject fields. The New York conference brought together students and thinkers from North America in order to engage in student-led workshops and a series of interesting speakers including Deirdre McCloskey, Philip Mirowski, Michael Sandel, Dean Baker, Richard Wolff, Julie Nelson, Paul Krugman, Neva Goodwin, James Galbraith and many more.

New School Economists and Policy Debates: Balancing Theory and Practice

Rick McGaheyby Rick McGahey, SCEPA Faculty Fellow
March 11, 2014

Today I attended a meeting at Georgetown University, on "Making A Living on a Living Planet: Toward a More Just and Sustainable Economy." This important session brought together representatives from two progressive movements who don't often cooperate or communicate effectively—the labor and environmental movements. (For more on the organizers, see this link www.labor4sustainability.org, I'll blog about the meeting in a separate post.) There were about 40 people in the room—activists from both the labor and environmental movements, policy advocates, and progressive economists. And, in a tribute to The New School's economics program, five of those economists studied graduate economics at The New School.

They included: Ron Blackwell, former Chief Economist at the AFL-CIO, one of the principal organizers of the meeting; Bob Pollin of U-Mass Amherst, who co-authored the key paper outlining an economic program for jobs and sustainability (he recently presented this work as part of SCEPA's Robert Heilbroner lecture); Mark Levinson, Chief Economist for the Service Employees International Union; Ken Peres, Chief Economist for the Communications Workers of America; and yours truly.

All of us were in the program some time ago, and it was gratifying to see how everyone remained focused on linking economic analysis with the critical progressive policy issues of our time. But what accounts for the remarkable concentration of New School economists at this event?

I believe it's The New School's combination of heterodox theory and critical economics, coupled with a desire to engage with and support policy and social movements, something we were able to learn and do in our graduate education at NSSR. Although there sometimes can be a tension between theoretical and applied policy work, when it is done right—as I believe it was during our time at The New School—the two domains reinforce each other. The theorists keep the policy analysts honest and self-critical, focused on the big picture, while the policy work grounds the theory and keeps it from becoming sterile and academic.

Today reminded me of the recent, excellent session organized by current graduate economics students, "The State of Wordly Philosophy at NSSR." That event continued the department's long and honorable history combining theory and practice, and the program's health and vitality depend on keeping those two elements in balance.

Today's event was just one example—others include the prominence of New School graduates in international policy debates (such as Nelson Barbosa's tenure as Brasil's Deputy Finance Minister), the appointment of Heather Boushey to lead the new Washington Center on Equitable Growth, David Howell's major study on inequality and growth in the United States, and the recent edition of Social Research on austerity economics and policy featuring several faculty and alumni of the economics program.

By keeping theory and policy in creative tension and balance, The New School can continue to produce critical and useful economic thought and analysis for decades to come. As the economics profession offers fewer and fewer heterodox opportunities for graduate education, The New School's role in both theory and policy becomes even more important.

VIDEO: The State of Worldly Philosophy

Sixty years after the publication of Robert Heilbroner's "The Worldly Philosophers", the economics department at The New School for Social Research extends a warm welcome to an Economics Student Union-organized colloquium.

WHEN: February 22, 2014
10:00am to 6:00pm
WHERE: The New School
6 East 16th Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY

Program
Since its founding in 1919 as a refuge from political repression within the academy, the New School has had a reputation of being a fount and record of Worldly Philosophy within the social sciences. In the wake of the ongoing economic crisis as well as the crisis of the economic discipline, we will introspectively continue that tradition by discussing our department's vision in light of its illustrious history.

The day consisted of lectures and panel-moderated discussions assessing the past, present and potential future of the economics department in academia and policy making.

New School Economists: Vision in Heterodox Economics

On May 4, 2012, SCEPA joined the Economics Student Union of the The New School for Social Research Economics Department to host a panel discussion with the economics faculty, "Vision in Heterodox Economics." The panel included faculty members Ed Nell, Anwar Shaikh, Duncan Foley, Teresa Ghilarducci, Sanjay Reddy and Christian Proaño and was moderated by economics student and SCEPA Assistant Lisa Selca.

Facts and Values are Entangled: Deal With it

Sanjay Reddy, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the New School for Social Research and SCEPA Faculty Fellow, joins INET, The Institute for New Economic Thinking, to discuss his research on world poverty measurement and normative reasoning in economics.

INET's mission is to nurture a global community of next-generation economic leaders, to provoke new economic thinking, and to inspire the economics profession to engage the challenges of the 21st century. Sanjay Reddy's work supports this mission by arguing that normative criteria is essential to answering technical economic problems.

See what others are saying about Sanjay Reddy's research:

Read more: Facts and Values are Entangled: Deal With it

Lord John Eatwell, The Theoretical Foundations of Current Distress

In celebration of the 80th anniversary of John Maynard Keynes' lectures at The New School, SCEPA's Robert L. Heilbroner Memorial Lecture hosted a speech by Lord John Eatwell, president of Queens' College and professor of Financial Policy at the University of Cambridge.

As Eatwell states, "Advocating sensible policies on 'pragmatic' grounds has never been enough to overcome primitive views on deficits, debt, and the role of the state."

The paralysis in policy-making that is exacerbating the economic crisis has its roots in the failure of economic theory. It fails to explain the causes of the breakdown or provide an unambiguous path of action to mitigate its consequences. Today's challenge is the same as that faced by Keynes in the 1930s: how to change the theoretical foundations of economic policy?

John Eatwell

Click 'read more' for pictures of the event.

Read more: Lord John Eatwell, The Theoretical Foundations of Current Distress

Academic Freedom? Conservative Billionaire Charles Koch's Donation to FSU Buys Veto Over Economics Faculty Hires


St. Petersburg TimesAn article by Kris Hundley at the St. Petersburg Times describes how conservative billionaire Charles G. Koch bought himself a veto over the faculty hired to teach at Florida State University's economics department. David W. Rasmussen, dean of the College of Social Sciences, says it would be "irresponsible" not to accept a large donation. Jennifer Washburn, author of University Inc., a book on industry's ties to academia: "This is an egregious example of a public university being willing to sell itself for next to nothing. In addition to FSU, Koch has made similar arrangements at two other state schools, Clemson University in South Carolina and West Virginia University.

Ha-Joon Chang: What They Don't Tell You About Capitalism

23 ThingsOn March 22, 2011, economist and author Ha-Joon Chang gave a lecture at The New School as part of the SCEPA / Economics Spring Lecture Series on Economic Recovery. Chang is an economist and an author of numerous books on topics including capitalism, develpoment, and free trade. His presentation related to his latest book, "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalsim."

"23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism" assaults economic orthodoxy. A guide to the follies of economics, Chang explains that free market policies rarely make poor countries richer; global companies without national roots belong in the realm of myth; the US does not have the highest living standards in the world; the washing machine changed the world more than the internet; more education does not of itself make countries richer; financial markets need to become less, not more efficient; and – perhaps most shocking to Chang's colleagues – good economic policy does not require good economists.

View Ha-Joon Chang's presentation.

Silent Partners

The nation’s top academic economists — who advise policy makers, testify before Congress, and publish influential papers and articles — are also much sought after by the financial industry as speakers, consultants, and corporate board members. Though typically portrayed as independent experts, they can reap huge fees from financial firms, including those that profited during the housing and the credit bubbles.

In a new paper, "Silent Partners," Gerald Epstein, chairman of the UMass Amherst economics department, and Jessica Carrick-Hagenbarth, a graduate student, examined a group of influential economists, scoured publicly available resumes, biographies, articles, and interviews, and found that the majority had made money from financial institutions — but very few had disclosed these connections when writing, speaking, or giving interviews on public policy.