Why Aren't Economists as Important as Garbagemen? Essays on the State of Economics

By David Colander | Go to book overview

If New Keynesian economics is to have staying power, it must develop some method to modify the simple textbook model to demonstrate and contrast its arguments and alternatives. To date it has not done so, and thus on internal criteria New Keynesian economics has a limited future.

The neo-Keynesian model is in a stronger position in regard to teaching, but it does not meet the article criterion. Unless the model evolves further and incorporates dynamic considerations, it, too, has a limited future. The historical approach has similar problems on the article criterion, but the confusion will likely allow more historical articles to be published than otherwise, especially if the articles can relate to modern developments.

My conclusion, then, is that even though Keynesian economics is in current disarray, its future, although uncertain as to the direction it will go, looks relatively strong in the short term, and somewhat less certain in the longer term. Because of its deep penetration into the textbooks, Keynesian economics will likely dominate the theoretical work of the 1980s and 1990s, but its domination will be nothing like the blissful days of the 1930s and 1940s.


Notes
1.
Elsewhere (see Colander 1986) I have described these theories in more detail.
2.
Obviously the issues are much more complicated than I can discuss in a short paper. External and internal criteria interact in complicated ways that I do not have space to capture.
3.
There is a third set of criteria somewhere between internal and external criteria, and it consists of the "political" (how well does the theory fit political needs?) and "funding" (can economists get paid for working on their theory?) criteria. While these are interesting and relevant, because of shortage of space I do not deal with them here.
4.
The importance of teachability depends upon the nature of the profession and the type of job researchers earn their money from. In the United States, most theoretical economists are teachers, hence teachability is extremely important. Moreover, the nature of the teaching method determines how that simple model must be reduced. As teaching methods change, a theory that was teachable may become unteachable.

-100-

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Why Aren't Economists as Important as Garbagemen? Essays on the State of Economics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 3
  • 1- Economists And Policy 17
  • 1- Why Aren't Economists As Important as Garbagemen? 19
  • Notes 28
  • 2- Economics, Institutions, And Methodology 39
  • 3- The Making Of An Economist 41
  • 4: Workmanship, Incentives, And Cynicism 63
  • 5- The Invisible Hand of Truth 81
  • 3- Applications To Macroeconomics 89
  • 6- The Evolution Of Keynesian Economics: From Keynesian to New Classical To New Keynesian 91
  • Notes 100
  • 4- Critics of Economics 113
  • 8- Galbraith and the Theory Of Price Control 115
  • 10- Form and Content In Appraising Recent Economic Developments 139
  • Notes 152
  • Works Cited And Related References 165
  • Index 169
  • About the Author *
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