The Hard Years: A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions

By Eugene J. McCarthy | Go to book overview
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Trouble in the Economics Community

The liberal and the conservative schools of economics are challenging each other's theories, interpretations, and projections. Within the separate schools, especially within the liberal one, there is disagreement that falls somewhere between anarchy and civil war.

More serious than the disagreements is the fact that economists are questioning their own discipline. The width and depth of this questioning was reflected in six articles in the January 22, 1972, issue of Saturday Review under the title, "Does Economics Ignore You?"

The first of the six articles was by Leonard Silk, economics writer for The New York Times. He opened his article with a convenient quotation from Edmund Burke: "The age of chivalry is gone. That of the sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever." Seeming to approve Burke's judgment, Silk then asked in his own name, "But is the age of the economists already come to an end?" He did not give a clear answer to the question but went on to say that the methodology of "conventional economics," which he defined as the science of choice, was inadequate. He suggested that economists needed a deeper understanding of many matters that lie beyond the boundaries of conventional economics. Yet he also suggested that economics might disappear before it had proved itself even within the limits of its own defined competence.

Mr. Silk was followed by Daniel Fusfeld, of the University of Michigan, who did not see economics as disappearing but as in serious trouble. He started his analysis at least two stages beyond the stage at which President Nixon said he had arrived. Economics, Fusfeld said, was post-post-Keynesian. The thrust of Fusfeld's article was that the synthesis of the macroeconomics of John Maynard Keynes

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The Hard Years: A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions
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