Fundamental Thought for the Crisis Series

I’ve recently been listening to a series of talks hosted by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), many on economic issues. When you compare the range of opinion entertained by the over 250-year-old RSA to that of the US media or academy, the narrowness of our debates is painfully apparent. To give just two examples: extreme trends toward inequality and youth unemployment are largely ignored by the powerful, from Washington to Davos. Mainstream academics have barely been better, lulled by specialization into picking at the edges of extreme phenomena.

To help remedy that in some small way, I’m starting an occasional series called “Fundamental Thought for the Crisis.” I’m trying to highlight thinkers who realize we’re not seeing some small “blip” in the American or global economy now. Equilibrium-based or Gaussian thinking is bound to be misleading in several ways. In alphabetical order, here are some of the thinkers to be highlighted:

Dean Baker on Debt.
Amar Bhide on Hayekian Finance.
Peter Boettke on Economic Formalism.
Mike Konczal on the Kochtopus.
Michael Mandel on Modern Mercantilism.
Harold Meyerson on the Mittelstand
Dambisa Moyo on Industrial Policy
Ha-Joon Chang on Wages
Russell Roberts on Wall Street.
Yves Smith on Commodities
Yves Smith on GSEs
David Zweig on Corporate Boards.

I highlight these figures because they are asking the deep questions left untouched by much conventional economic thought. Policymakers are still enchanted by zombie ideas. These thinkers offer glimpses of a vibrant and humane future for economic ideas, and hopefully for the laws & policies these ideas animate.

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