UCD MA in Economics

I figure that some of you reading this blog may be interested in undertaking further study in economics. So this seems like a good place to provide some information about UCD’s MA programme in economics. Information about the course is available here, including an electronic version of our glossy brochure.

I suspect some of the economists from other universities may also wish to use the site to promote their programmes, so let me briefly indicate what I see as the strengths of our programme. According to RePEc, UCD is Ireland’s leading university for research in economics, so the modules are taught by highly qualified research-oriented staff. The programme has a strong research element to it, with students doing a research thesis, for which we offer significant supports in the form of personal supervision by a staff member and classes on research methods. Finally, the programme offers a range of module options in the second term, allowing students to take advanced core modules (effectively tracking those taken in the first year of international graduate programmes) or to take a range of more applied and policy-focused modules or a mix of both. This means that students can decide at the end of their first term which track they want to go down.

Anyone who has questions about the programme should feel free to contact me at karl.whelan@ucd.ie.

Update: Hugh Sheehy points out in the (surprisingly entertaining) comments that our MA site isn’t clear about fees. I’ll try to get that fixed but I can tell you from this that they are €5,400 for EU students and €10,800 for non-EU students. Hefty, I know, but less than other comparable programmes.

101 thoughts on “UCD MA in Economics”

  1. @KW

    Fair scewed towards Das local Kapital in those RePEc lists Karl …. !

    Think I’ll stick with the blog and the everyday …. & may I humbly suggest John TheOptimist for an Hon. MA Econ. (UCD) as public reward for his contributions to ‘confidence’ and empirical testing at times of the patience of all. QUB would appreciate the reputational ‘burden-sharing’.

  2. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the course.

    Sad not to see an international trade option for the second semester though.

  3. That brings to mind a question though. Will any of these students be—or have they ever been—exposed to Das Kapital or Marx, or more generally any literature which stands in contradiction to the free-market/deregulation ideology which is so pervasive nowadays.

    I ask this question very seriously because it would be a very serious failing for any university to produce graduates with homogeneous academic opinions.

  4. The UCD MA is an excellent program. I did a year of postgrad coursework in a top UK institution and the UCD MA and the overall standard of teaching in UCD is at least as good, if not better.

  5. I did that course way back in the days when the required readings were Bruno & Sachs for Macro and Krugman & Helpman for International Trade. That prompts me to ask: what’s on offer for upgrading people like me so that we can cope with all that DSGE stuff, if we feel we need to?

  6. OMF,

    These days you can get a pretty good idea of what students are exposed to by looking at their teachers’ web pages. See Karl Whelan’s page for example. If you really are obsessed with maths you’ll be happy as a clam in inky-black mud.

  7. @OMF

    How a Gepgraphy course putting forward the alternative view that the world is flat?

    You know, for balance.

  8. Karl, could you recommend a good book that gives the layman who has interest in Economics but can’t go back to study a good overview of the subject. Thanks

  9. @OMF

    “Will any of these students be—or have they ever been—exposed to Das Kapital or Marx, or more generally any literature which stands in contradiction to the free-market/deregulation ideology which is so pervasive nowadays.”

    I don’t notice much free-market stuff going on – in financial markets anyway, it could hardly get any more interventionist. Much like “efficient markets”, “free-market” is very much a theory these days – perhaps useful mainly to understand the likely effects of the interventional policies.

  10. @ ObsessiveMathsFreak

    You should read “The Economics Anti-Textbook”. Its not against mainstream methodology, but against mainstream textbooks.

    @tull mcadoo, Rob S

    You should read “The Economics Anti-Textbook” also. Few things more annoying than someone with a Master’s who then thinks they know it all. There are plenty of mainstream economists like Stiglitz who are against “free-market/deregulation ideology”. Also Marx’s theory has similar predictions to Ricardo’s, plus he made some predictions that can be empirically tested. These predictions failed, but he still made some useful contributions, and you will be surprised how much vocabulary is taken from Marx.

    Comparing those who are against “free-market/deregulation ideology” (who include many Nobel prize winners) as flat-earthers or astrologers is just displaying your ignorance of economics.

  11. @OMF

    I did that course and I’m afraid to say I was not exposed to any Karl Marx there. You will be glad to hear that I wasn’t exposed to Any Rand there either… or Hayek, nor do I recall anybody utter the word Friedman or spread ‘free-market/deregulation ideology’.

    I did study Marx and Hayek and their ilk in the politics modules of my undergraduate, as did friends of mine in the philosophy department… which makes a bit more sense because those classes were more akin to arguing about religion than actual economics.

    So to answer your snide question, at least one of these students has been exposed to Karl Marx and has read Das Kapital (and Rawls and Stiglitz and many others). My question to you is whether you’ve taken the time to sit down and read Atlas Shrugged, The Road to Serfdom or Free to Choose or one of those contradicting views? I’m not saying their outlook on the world is right or wrong (and I most certainly don’t believe the bulk of what I learned in my economics degrees) but I’d hate to think you’re going around with a one-sided / homogenous opinion on the matter.

  12. You idiots who think Marx is somehow on the level of creationism and flat earth theories haven’t been paying attention these last few years. If any theory has been refuted by events in recent times (“swept into the dustbin of history” is, I believe, the preferred way of expressing the idea) it is the laissez-faire free-market low tax, minimal government nonsense of Hayek, Mises and their epigone Milton Friedman.

    Pity many on this blog and in government haven’t heard the news.

    cf. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n03/benjamin-kunkel/how-much-is-too-much

    for a primer.

  13. I would have thought Das Kapital should be there in a course on contemporary economics, in a similar way that if I went to study “Paradise Lost”, I would read the Bible first.

    But rather than get snarky on it, how about offering an alternative supplementary reading list for the students? I’m currently half-way through Michael Lewis’s “The Big Short”, and would thoroughly recommend it.

    Paul Quigley keeps referencing a book on Ireland by Joe Lee, should that be on?

    What else is a must read to the modern economist?

    Perhaps JtO from his Guevarist days would recommend “Guerilla Warfare”, or is all that in the past? Che speaks beautifully about the necessity of good shoes, surely that wisdom hasn’t faded.

  14. @Gavin Kostick

    Start with that Kunkel review. Read some of the David Harvey stuff or you could follow the videos of his course on Capital, Vol. 1. Add in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine and Kieran Allen’s Ireland’s Economic Crisis.

    The fact that the Marxist or, indeed, any alternative economic perspective to the neoliberal one, is apparently not taught at UCD is part of the phenomenon that some Marxist theorists like Harvey attempt to analyse. This narrowing, based not on some sort of evidence or refutation of Marxism as the fatuous comments above seem to suggest, but entirely on ideology, speaks very poorly of the programme in question.

    “Step right up, kids! Learn the techniques that allowed almost all mainstream economists to be entirely blindsided by the crisis (oh, sure, go ahead: cite Morgan Kelly who, not coincidentally, is hardly mainstream)! Learn how, by means of epicycles upon epicycles, we can use the destructive power of capitalism to avoid our own destruction by capitalism! And pay no attention to that bearded man over there in the corner! He believes preposterous things: that markets are not always right, that capitalism cannot continue infinitely, that greed isn’t good and even more absurd claims besides! No, stick with us. We’ll teach you how austerity leads to prosperity!”

  15. @OMF
    At this stage the free market is merely a perturbation of the taxation system. It has been for a while.

    We’ve been living in Marx’s Socialist Paradise, we’ve just not realized it or admitted to it.

    With rare exceptions (particularly in countries like Ireland), wealth and power today come not from business or honest wealth creation, but from being able to change the rules in your favour. Even subtle use of the rules will transfer wealth in whatever quantity you like from whoever you like to anyone else you like. Blatant use of the rules to steal money simply requires more persistent messaging, but governments can still manipulate almost anything to ensure that favoured ones get all the money.

    Marx would probably have been horrified to discover that Friedman’s angels don’t exist. Friedman always knew they didn’t.

  16. Funny how I didn’t see that a thread on the UCD MA programme in economics would quickly develop into a discussion on the merits of Karl Marx .. the wonders of tinternet.

  17. … cite Morgan Kelly who, not coincidentally, is hardly mainstream ….

    Yet oddly enough, his name appears in the MA brochure linked by Karl Whelan. Even oddlier, his Macro course is listed as a Core Requirement.

    This is what I love about blogospheric criticism of economics. Heretics are suppressed! Sure they are. Poor dissenting bastards like Stiglitz get stuck with shit like the John Bates Clark Medal and the Nobel and such.

  18. Ah Karl…you should have known!

    BTW – unless I’m missing it somewhere obvious, the UCD economics course is an example of non-transparent pricing. I had to wander around the website to eventually find the price lists for postgraduate courses. Nothing on the course page or brochure.

  19. Karl, it’s not that surprising. People don’t know what economics is and regularly assume you and everyone else teach the youngens some form of neoliberal political thought. Given these assumptions of theirs, who’s to blame them for suggesting you teach some political thought closer to their own views as well.

    (Personally, I feel a little left out. Google says Your search – “free market” site:karlwhelan.com – did not match any documents. A little bit of Marx vs Hayek among matrix decomposition could have mixed it up nicely!)

    Readers: this thread indicates pretty well that people don’t really know what is taught on economics courses, or indeed what exactly the discipline does. If you want to debate political theory, I suggest politics.ie. If you want to learn about economics, you could do a lot worse than investigating the UCD MA.

  20. @Enda H

    Actually, I have a pretty good idea of what is taught in economics courses and what the discipline does. The point I was making is that economics at UCD rather than being immune or above politics and ideology, is actually infected by it and the absence of any economists from alternative traditions like Marxism is indicative of that. Not coincidentally, none of them (except the guy who works on medieval economics) had an inkling that the great crisis of 2008 was coming and none of them (still!) give any sense that this crisis just might have been systemic in its origins, a crisis of capitalism itself. No, no, capitalism is fine: indeed, that is the sole object (and ideological framework!) for our “discipline.” So it’s not that I think they are actively teaching neoliberal thought: rather, it’s that neoliberalism is the very water they swim in and therefore equally invisible as what it is, namely, an ideology. One need not have spent very much time on this board to get a sense of it, provided one is paying attention.

    That the media in this country and the politicians also swim in that water and can’t imagine anything else still doesn’t excuse the academics.

  21. @Ernie,

    You’re welcome to your opinion that the faculty are blindly swimming in neo-liberalism and that none of them have realised it yet. Overlooking the fact that an awful lot of modern macro uses the outcome of a perfect social planner as an ideal benchmark for analysis, I still take the approach that, say, Paul Devereux’s research on the effects that birth-weight have had on educational attainment, or Jim Bergin’s research on mechanism design, or Mike Harrison’s research on heteroskedasticity, or Cormac O’Grada’s research on the history the famines, will hold true (or false) regardless of the system of government.

  22. @ KW,

    Thanks for advertising the information. If I ever fall into the money I would certainly consider the option of UCD MA. It sounds like a formidable challenge for guys like myself, but it is no harm to have goals and targets in life. BOH.

  23. @ Ernie

    I don’t figure there’s any point in this but I’ll give it one go.

    I know very few economists generally, and particularly at UCD economics, who simply preach “capitalism is fine” or somehow view our discipline as reliant on this viewpoint.

    Here’s a short list of things that students will learn in graduate economics that explain why free markets don’t always deliver good outcomes:

    1. Monopoly\Oligopoly — sometimes the sellers can exploit the fact that they’ve cornered the market.

    2. Externalities — people can do things that impact negatively on others.

    3. Fairness — a perfectly free market will generate a highly unequal distribution of income.

    4. Co-ordination failures — when everyone’s decisions depend on everyone else’s decisions, you can get seriously sub-optimal outcomes e.g. prisoner’s dilemma type problems.

    5. Imperfect\asymmetric information — people often have to make decisions without access to full information. Imperfect and asymmetric information can lead to markets for things like healthcare breaking down or working very imperfectly — we all want to have health insurance but private health insurers would like to only insure the patently healthy. This can lead such markets to break down altogether.

    6. Psychology: A huge amount of research tells us that people are not the rational calculating machines of economic theory. Now sometimes the predictions of the theory can still be useful even when not everyone corresponds to the idealised “rational agent” (models are intended as rough descriptions that help you simplify and understand things, not as a literal description of the world). But sometimes non-rational behaviour is extremely important and one could argue that asset price booms and busts are an example of this.

    I could go on but I’m guessing you get my drift. The truth is that people emerge from grad economics programmes with a laundry list of ways in which free markets don’t work. Often there are fairly clear government intervention works to fix things. Sometimes there aren’t and sometimes government intervention can bring it’s own problems.

    A good grounding in graduate economics should teach you that the world is complex and sloganeering is rarely the best way to figure out how the things should be organised.

    Anyway that’s how I view it. Given what you’ve written already, I’m guessing you prefer anonymous spear-throwing to a realistic assessment of the merits and de-merits of academic economics. In which case, I’ll leave you be.

  24. “the UCD economics course is an example of non-transparent pricing.”

    UCD administration refers non transparency. Old habits die hard and obfuscation extends even to course promotion, when any logical person would try and provide information to prospective students.

  25. @Karl

    “Funny how I didn’t see that a thread on the UCD MA programme in economics would quickly develop into a discussion on the merits of Karl Marx .. the wonders of tinternet.”

    In the States the discussion would more likely be about Karl Marks -how many of them required to get the cert at the end of the course.

  26. “To qualify for a place on the MA in Economics a student should normally hold a primary degree with at least Second Class Honours Grade 1 (2H1) in Economics or in another degree that has strong theoretical and quantitative content such as Maths, Physics, Engineering or Computer Science. Alternatively, applicants may hold a Second Class Honours Grade 1 Higher Diploma in Economic Science, or an equivalent qualification noting that a 2H1 corresponds to a 60% average, or a B minus or 3.08 GPA equivalent. ”

    That’s me out then. No room for arts students at the inn?

    PS Since when was a 2.1 a B- average? In my day it was a B/B+!

  27. @hogan

    This “should normally” business crops up a lot. I wonder it means in practice that all the other applications go in the bin?

  28. @hoganmahew,

    But what did you study?

    Did you go to one of the NUI colleges/universities?

    I think the graduates & students of NUI Arts faculties are about the only ones in the world who when asked ‘what did you study?’, reply with ‘arts’, or (worse still) ‘I just did arts’.
    Everywhere else they answer the question they are asked with at least the minimum information expected, i.e. the name of the subjects, and there is a very very wide variation, e.g. ‘English’, ‘Mathematics’, ‘Philosophy’ – all serious heavy duty intellectual subjects if undertaken to a high level in a decent department. Most people would be more impressed with someone with a first class hons in one of those subjects from a good university dept rather than yet another BComm graduate who regurgitated “Porter’s five forces” etc. (in much the same way as Inter Cert Commerce students years earlier they listed off “The advantages and disadvantages of advertising”).

    On a related note about academic standards it was good and interesting to see on the 6th April that “Trinity’s School of Engineering has been ranked in the top 100 internationally by the just published 2011 QS World University Rankings. The rankings place TCD as the only Irish institution to make it into the top 100 for Elec Engineering.”

    http://www.tcd.ie/Communications/news/news.php?headerID=1742&vs_date=2011-4-1

  29. well that can be a serious heavy duty subject…

    as long as it wasn’t in UCD’s old “Combined Departments of History” (both blueshirts AND brownshirts).

    just kidding 🙂

  30. Karl, you forgot a module:

    ECON41851: Adanced Celebrity economics

    Including lectures on, a half assed approach to economics, long drawn out analogies, inciting/tapping in to mass hysteria and of course, influencing gullible politicans.

  31. Anyone who would merit the degree should be able to make up their own minds on what ism is their cup of tea or none.

    There can be no perfectly human operated system and it’s always dangerous when an ideology becomes a religion.

    In some areas, deregulation has been positive; in other areas, not.

    The brutal system of communism has been comprehensively discredited and ‘Ernie Ball’ raises the question of ‘a crisis of capitalism itself.’

    The model of American capitalism where the affluent monopolise most of the economic gains, is not one to be admired and several prominent American economists have published research on this trend

    Irish farmers gain from Europe’s biggest protectionist program while the cuts in industrial tariffs have boosted trade and incomes enormously, while it’s mainly developing countries who charge tariffs on each others’ manufacturing exports.

    Contrary to the mindset of those who view the word ‘multinational’ as synonymous with the infamous United Fruit Company, US MNCs have mainly been a force for good (both in economic terms and in the way workers are treated) in the world as tariffs fell, even though as John Kenneth Galbraith argues in his 1967 book, ‘The New Industrial State’ that the United States was no longer a free-enterprise society but a structured state controlled by the largest companies.

    In the same year, Jean Jacques Servan Schreiber in Le Défi américain (The American Challenge), wrote that: “What threatens us is not a torrent of riches. The war is being fought against us not with dollars, oil, tons of steel or even modern machines, but with creative imagination and a talent for organization.

    “What America has done is to change the entire concept of culture, the values of civilization. The new American culture is not Chartres or Versailles, but the organization of talent. The Americans organize intelligence so that it creates. They have an industrial and scientific strategy. That’s real culture.”

    There is no perfect world but sustained high growth in developing economies is a recent post-World War II phenomenon and there are common reasons for it.

  32. @ Michael.

    Good morning.

    “There can be no perfectly human operated system.” I remember the thrill of Kurt Godel doing even for maths, the last great Platonic hold-out.

    As a matter of interest, do you think this in a similar line to “Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.”, or more from the world not being amenable to perfect systems?

    Hmm, now I look carefully at your comment I may have taken you the wrong way.

    Do you mean:
    (a) No perfect systems suit humans. or:
    (b) Humans cannot make perfect systems?

    Or some other version?

  33. @ Michael H

    I suppose one of the things which distinguished the US from older nations is the extent to which business considerations have undermined most other forms of authority. This tendency was, of course, sometimes for the better, but overall it went too far. As the Mexican writer Octavio Paz put it, the US is a battleground between democracy and plutocracy.

    Other People’s Money is a 1914 classic by Louis Brandeis, subsequently a Supreme Court judge. The Pujo Committe established that corrupt and unlawful activities were the norm among the nations most respected bankers. They did it, and still do it, because they get away with it.

    The necessary reforms have been subverted on many occasions, with the unfortunate result that the US has lost most of its moral standing worldwide. I believe most thoughtful Americans recognise that. It’s a pity, because there is as you say, enormous talent and creativity there.

    The reasons for high growth post WW2 could be debated at length, but we are a long way off thread.

  34. @ Gavin Kostick

    Gavin,

    I would say humans cannot make perfect systems.

    Finding the right balance between self and common interest is difficult and the individual pursuing his self interest can be sometimes positive, while the individual that perceives his/her action motivated by common interest, can be a danger to the public good.

    Adam Smith criticised regulation in his day which favored employers in keeping wages down and he noted that: “In civilized society he [man] stands at all times in need of the cooperation and assistance of great multitudes, while his whole life is scarce sufficient to gain the friendship of a few persons.

    http://www.finfacts.ie/irishfinancenews/article_10004429.shtml

    @ All

    On trade…

    The Commission on Growth and Development under the chairmanship of Nobel laureate, Michael Spence, reported that since 1950, 13 economies (Botswana; Brazil; China; Hong Kong; Indonesia; Japan; Korea, Malaysia; Malta; Oman; Singapore; Taiwan; and Thailand) have grown at an average rate of 7% a year or more for 25 years or longer. At that pace of expansion, an economy almost doubles in size every decade.

    Growth of 7% a year, sustained over 25 years, was unheard of before the latter half of the 20th century. It is possible only because the world economy is now more open and integrated.

  35. @all

    The other Karl has noted a mention or two on this blog at times …

    http://www.irisheconomy.ie/index.php/2009/09/07/lucey-the-immorality-and-unfairness-of-nama/#comment-15015

    Here with Blind Biddy for the rugby – and borrowing her copy of Capital Vol1, Part VII, section f on Ireland. …. facinating stuff …. on the Famine he notes:

    “… it killed poor devils only. To the wealth of the country it did not the slightest damage.’

    Hey, he wrote this stuff in 1867 ….. the economics of an acre and a PIG …. wow! And Ireland now THE PIG (-; ….. gotta go …

    @KW
    Must be The Aesthetic Turn!

  36. @Hogan

    There’s probably a bit more maths and stats in graduate econ than many people realise, hence the requirement for a quants background. You really would miss a lot of the economics if you had to spend all your time getting to grips with the various tools used to express and manipulate the economic models.

    Don’t despair, though – there’s always the MA Qualifier to get the feeble-minded Arts student up to speed! 😉

  37. Had the pleasure of doing the MA Econ at UCD, wrapping up last year with Karl as my thesis advisor. It was an excellent programme, debate and discussion were encouraged throughout and none of the lecturers were lacking in suggestions regarding literature that explained or supported the theories discussed in class. There was no “house view” being pushed and my classmates and I are still debating topics via email to this day. I’m happy to recommend it and I feel I got my money’s worth.

  38. @ MH-ff: “Growth of 7% a year, sustained over 25 years, was unheard of before the latter half of the 20th century. It is possible only because the world economy is now more open and integrated.”

    And ‘we’ emitted sh*tloads of fiat credit and burnt almost half of our finite supply of fossil fuel. The outcomes? Greater (in population terms) inequality; crushing debts; deteriorating environment. Wonderful achievements! 😉 Next 25 might be the first era of ‘die-back’.

    @ FOH: “… to express and manipulate the economic models.”

    You ARE referring to econ, not to some course in math theory? Econ models are theoretical human constructs – axioms and logical arguments with a faint connection to the real world of folk. What’s the point of manipulating something that has little relevance to reality as we experience it? Look at the bad press climate models are getting. And they do have relevance to a significant bunch of folk who live close to the beachs!

    Economics is actually Political Econony. The Quants hijacked it back in the 30s. Dragged it off to Cloudland. Need to get it back on the surface amongst the living.

    BpW

    BpW

  39. @ Brian Woods

    Unless this dispatch is from some remote cave, I guess you have benefited from the conventional system.

    When I used to see members of the muttawa religious police (Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice) in Jeddah, getting out of American air conditioned SUVs to enforce the custom of 1,400 years before, I used to think that I would have respect for you people if you had arrived on camels.

  40. @ MM-ff:

    Leafy Co. Dublin, Michael. Very def a beneficiary of system. Not unmindful of the multitudes that have not. Dunno what I can do on a personal level to help, apart from the occasional donation to whatever charity. Empathy is one thing. Resolute action being another!

    1,456 AH – clearly still Medieval in character! We (us of the western tribe) were actively using the rack, public barbecues and other jolly sorts of spectator sports in 1,456 AC – apparently witch waterboarding was all the rage!. Come on a bit since then we have? Well maybe, but only in some respects. So them desert types have their own bit of catching up to do?

    Now I seem to recall that there was this university, in Bagdad of all places, round about 200 AH or so. Apparently it was THE PC place to study: algebra, alchemie, physic, astronomy, you name it, they had it. Somebody evidently lost the plot. And those pesky guys are still sitting on OUR oil!

    BpW

  41. @BpW

    That’s sort of the point, Brian. If you have to learn all the maths from scratch, then that’s probably _all_ you’ll learn and you won’t have the time to consider the relevance or applicability of a model. Models are just a way to start to think about how things work – reality is a wee bit too complex for most people to hold it in their head in totality at any one time. Not your good self, of course, but regular folk. Economists, and the like.

    I’d wager a lot of the current global trouble came from people too caught up in the maths and not stopping to think whether their models were fallible. But a lot of the Irish problems came from another group of people without the faintest whiff of a model for how the economy works.

    If both had ended up somewhere in the middle of the spread, things would probably be a darn sight better now. As the Zen Buddhists – and the econometricians – might answer: Mu.

  42. The mu remark reminds me of a bad old Eng joke.

    Two cats on an inclined plane. Which one slips first?

    Anyway, Maths isn’t reality, but the shorthand it gives you is vital if you want to describe things accurately and – above all – briefly.

  43. @ Michael H

    ‘I used to think that I would have respect for you people if you had arrived on camels’

    Your BS detector is woking. As Solzhenitsyn said, a communist plumber could always get along with a capitalist one, it was the party apparatchiks who were full of crap. Every totalitiarian regime has its ideological police.

    There is a global struggle over resources. Many so called developing countries are the creation of western business interests. One way to keep down nationalism or communism is to promote religious fundamentalism.
    Try Octavio Paz ‘One earth: four or five worlds’ for a nice analysis of how the oil business helpd to create the Iranian religious regime. We reap what we sow.

    Like Sadam, the jihadis were backed to the hilt by western interests, until they started to become a problem for the west. Now they are the axis of evil, but the last time I looked, it was the communists who were the enemy. Of course they were, but they had no monoply on evil.

    As the American general is reputed to have said, ‘I have seen the enemy, gentlemen, and it is us’.

  44. @ FOH

    ‘I’d wager a lot of the current global trouble came from people too caught up in the maths and not stopping to think whether their models were fallible’

    That’s one part of the story. An equally, or more important part is that many economic departments and institutes, especially in the US, were bought and sold by business interests. All kinds of profitable snake oil were peddled under the banner of ‘scientific objectivity’.

    Steve Keen has a lot to say about the failings of orthodox economics, and it’s certainly not because he is shy of the math involved. Yves Smith’s Econned Palgrave 2010 is a good read, as is her blog ‘Naked Capitalism’

    You are right about Ireland. We ceased to bow the knee before priests, but retained a blind faith in ‘the system’. As Nicholas Taleb says, ‘Mediocristan’. We are certainly getting the old wake-up call now.

  45. Anything on Hyman Minsky or Kondratiev(?) never mind Marx? What about Irving Fischer? We are in the middle of debt deflation and we allow/justify banks to steal an unprecedented proportion of our future production, where’s the work on this?

    And on Marx, he did say that the major input in all products was labour (even a commodity like copper in the ground has zero value, until labour transforms it into something useful), so oligopolies/monopolies/competitive markets tend to have no effect on capital, instead structures that introduce competition, only introduce more pressure on the price of labour, but less downward pressure on returns to capital

    This was an excellent discussion. Thank you all.

  46. @Bklyn_rntr

    If you into Minsky, u find plenty at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College ….

    http://www.levyinstitute.org/

    & if you can explain Minsky in a paragraph, we might appreciate it.

    IN about a thousand years we can figure out if Kondratiev had a point: Marx will certainly be paired with A. Smith for far longer.

  47. I am an illiterate too, and I have no formal training in economics…so take what’s follows as an amateurish stab at it. At least minsky tries to incorporate credit cycles and interest costs into an economic framework. Neo classical economics seems to assume away financial intermediation, interest, costs and refuses to acknowledge that these are important to any analysis of the economy.

    The theory categorizes debt according to where we are in the credit cycle. Early on, lending happens in a de-levered system so every unit of new debt feeds new production. Debt in this phase is hedged debt…productive cash flows can repay both the principal and interest…as time passes the debt stock increases and the drag from interest rates means that new debt accumulation grow, but the units of new debt exceed the new units of production. This is speculative debt because although cash flow can repay interest, the value of the assets acquired with the debt has to remain stable or the principal can’t be repaid. In the final phase, ponzi debt, is extremely inefficient because neither interest nor principal can be repaid from cash flow, instead collateral values have to rise or debtors will default.

    What can we do with this? Well minsky says that when we are in the ponzi phase, there is nothing we can do to stop the collapse. We can only a) seek to prevent the economy from entering a ponzi phase or b) if having failed in a) move through the collapse as fast as possible. I think we failed in stage a) and we are failing in b) too because instead of allowing the private sector actors to fail, bankrupt, but holding government aloof, we are pawning off ponzi units of debt to public balance sheets to prolong the misery. Government should enter the economy with infrastructure investment and employment maximizing public sector investment once the bust has happened. It shoudl not try to prevent the collapse because that is impossible.

  48. To have ‘no formal training in economics’ is, imho, a distinct advantage in these times – I commenced me “economics” ‘learning’ in late 2008, much of it on this blog and the rest in the everyday – and as we both may appear to have open minds …….. progress may be possible. Of course, having lived, I will have tacit if vulgar understanding of ‘political economy’ – my preferred name for what may be a discipline, or even a social science if one could place ‘power’ somehow into all those eloquent equations …

    So how we doin on the selves-learnin …?

    When bust – go bust quick – then get on with recovery.

    Must say I agree with your interpretation of Minsky’s (b) …… bit late but it still needs doin! And then a few Minskite local banks under pragmatic citizen boards … and a good bit of leuderamadan fat that can be cut from we know where to get them started ………. (-;

    Now where do we find another good one-pager …. ?

  49. Don’t suppose I’d get away with That one pager by Marx & Engels on this blog – without drawing an encyclicial from Paul Hunt and a belt of the FinFacts Crozier from Michael Hennigan …

    Tempting? (-;

  50. @ Bklyn_rntr: “Government should enter the economy with infrastructure investment and employment maximizing public sector investment once the bust has happened. It should not try to prevent the collapse because that is impossible.”

    Gov is just a bunch of transient politicians. Who do be there ALL the time?

    Most econs have an economic Model-in-Use in their heads (DO’D gave out to me about this, and I think he may have a point) and this is what guides their behaviours (what they say). Gov actually means the taxpayer (Govs have no money of their own). So in effect you are indulging in social welfare transfer payments to whichever sector. These transfers create nothing. What might happen, is that one sector uses the transfers as collateral to get credit. Credit is an essential ingredient for the aggregate expansion of economic activity (fossil fuel energy is the other).

    Our current predicament is that both these ingredients are sort of on the short side. The other issue is debt repayment – for those who can afford it. When debt and money collide, money is destroyed => deflation. That’s why we have those QE binges: keep the money (credit supply) afloat. Its a mad scramble to keep the Ponzi scheme airborne. Works fine until the citizen taxpayer figures out that if they spend less, and work less, Ponzi deflates real fast. We might just be getting to this transition phase. First Q of 2012?

    BpW

  51. @D o’D and BW
    Nice to read replies…I find much of what economists say to be extremely frustrating because the tin opener is often conveniently assumed to exist. BW is, of course, right that government is people and, as such, the minsky solution is for people to default and then form people, to find ways to subsidize employment maximizing activity to support demand recovery.

    I suppose the times determine the economic model, but that is not what we hear. The old model ( a bastardization of Keynes and Friedman cherry picked to suit the times) are serving only to justify the biggest heist in human history. In September 08, it was we mustn’t allow bank defaults because that would force a collapse. Admitedly, many economists opposed explicit bank guarantees, but not implicit ones…the explicit guarantees allowed the financial sector to get out from under the pile of ruble they created by passing on collateral to the ECB (and by implication onto our own central bank) ….that transfer has already happened ( the private sector is out and the crappy debt is likely already sitting on the ECB balance sheet with no hope of repo….

    Now that the financial interests have disentangles themselves from the losses, they need to reload the “mark” ( that’s us by the way) so they allow discussion of default, because that will be a sovereign default now and they need the suckers to get back to borrowing…..it’s so outrageous, it’s mind numbing….

    And our bought and paid for economists (who are financed by banks mostly) and our politicians (developers and banks) have a ready set of ideologies that justify this, oh and a handy line in know nothingness to refute anything that contradicts their worldview…..except that when you point out the dynamics of debt, they go quiet…..

  52. Bw…I don’t know about destroyed…it is destroyed in the sense of purchasing power, but that can happen through inflation (less good for same money) or through massive deflation (same price for goods but less money in circulation) …it seems clear that inflation is the preferred route but this can never be openly acknowledged. that would represent a peek behind the wizard’s curtain and is too dangerous to contemplate.

    We do have an energy problem and we have a money problem and maybe we are in the last phase of a western hegemony problem. for centuries, a stable financial system depended upon a system that was operated and administered by the creditor (Italian republics, holland UK). today, we are in a system operated by the debtor, with all of the moral hazard that this implies. In 50 years will we still have a system operated by debtors? And if so what possible ideology can be created to justify the irresponsibility that such as system invites. Also, can the West ( that’s us) even contemplate the possibility that the world’s financial center of gravity would shift east and south? I can’t see it. We have to either become creditors again (extremely painful) or we resist the natural shift of power that accompanies a shift in financial flows (a real disaster on par with the 1914 to 1945 period in Europe)…anyway I need alcohol now

  53. @Bklyn_rntr & Brian Woods

    Yes – useful exchanges of views – I much prefer the dialogical to the monological from all-knowing beings on high ….

    Must say – I’m taken with Minsky’s (b) – and, in fact, acting on it as far as is ‘reasonable’!

    @bpw
    I don’t ‘give out’ – but I do critically challenge when I deem it possibly worthwhile or when I smell a spinner or an ideological idiot – most of time I simply ignore …… this is a blog, after all, but a very useful addition to the Irish Public Sphere which is particulary weak …. may be part of why the leuder_amadan’s in power get away with so much and why ‘spinning’ and ‘ decoys’ tend to dominate much of the meedja which generally spins whatever the ‘dominant narrative’ of the time happens to be ….. in this case, socialization of all private bank debt on the bleed1n serfs….. time to get the citizen_serfs tuned to Minsky’s (b) ……. (-;

  54. @ DO’D: Your right! You didn’t ‘give out’ to me. Scolded? No, matter. However, you did pose me a question. Havn’t forgotton. No meaningful answer yet.

    I have this mindset that sez, “You MUST have some reason – mad or otherwise, for your behaviours”

    But does one actually recognize or even tap into that mindset to ascertain what one is doing is congruent with one’s embedded belief system? Sadly, the answer to that would appear to be, on the whole, No! Yours truly also. Really need to watch that. Hard to digest some of the awful pap that I encounter.

    Thanks for comment, and Bklyn_rntr too. I’ll give Minsky a shot when I get some ‘free time’.

    BpW

  55. I can’t believe it took fifty posts to mention the labour theory of value in relation to Marx. A pretty, pretty good reason why he’s not taught in your typical Economic Analysis core module.

  56. @all

    Justin O’Brien in Today’s IT

    Economics requires the injection of new thinking from disciplines as varied as political science, law and ethics. The elevation of behavioural economics, a rag-tag of concepts drawn from these disciplines but not integrated within a coherent and cohesive program, demonstrates the enormity of the challenge. …. There is a pressing need for new economic thinking. It cannot take place in a vacuum. For economics to save itself it must accept reintegration with the other social sciences and the humanities. It necessitates not only a return to the political economy of JM Keynes. It necessitates a return to the agenda advanced by Adam Smith, himself a professor of jurisprudence at Glasgow, which measures progress not only on efficiency but on the strength of moral communities. Contemporary economics has much to relearn.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2011/0411/1224294394466.html

    The World is Inter-Disciplinary ….. (-;

  57. @Edward (2)

    Prob think it has something to do with the retail trade and the minimum wage negotiations in Marx & Spencer, or the exploitation of apprentice hair stylists in Peter Marx ….. with labour process theory referring to the efficiency of increasing the throughput at the labour exchange windows in the dole offices …..

    imho capital-labour relation, whatever one’s take on it, remains fundamental …. power, as we now know too well, is another fundamental …

  58. @Rory O’Farrell

    “Thinks they know it all” would be an exaggeration on your part for the sake of sensationalism.

    I apologise if the joke sounded dismissive but we all have our own opinions. I just feel that the what is currently taught is not as one-dimensional as implied.

  59. Mises got a mention above, not from the academics but from uber-socialist Ernie Ball, who clearly hates him. Why? Well, Mises wrote in 1923 that a socialist economy is impossible (because of the information problem).
    Why do the academics ignore Mises? Embarrassment, possibly – Samuelson wrote in 1989(!) that “The Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function and even thrive”.
    As for Marx, when a man’s followers murder at least 100 million people in less than a century, maybe he really should be c to the d of h.

  60. @Rob S

    I agree that at Master’s level its not so one dimensional (using matrices it is R-dimensional :D). One thing people can take from The Economics Anti-Textbook is the broad range of opinions within mainstream research (though omitted from mainstream undergrad textbooks).

    I did a business undergrad, not economics. But looking at many courses I think they would benefit from some sort of history of economic thought. Its entirely possible that economic theory goes down some dead ends from time to time, and needs to back-up a bit. For example, 30/40 years ago the Cambridge Capital controversy basically showed we can’t measure capital. This is relevant to lots of empirical literature. However I didn’t find it mentioned in textbooks and I had to read it from economic history books in my own time.

  61. @Rothbard

    One can distinguish Marx the thinker and economist – from what others made of his work in totalitarianism – certainly not communism …….

    Mises and other ‘Austrians’ made usefuf contributions – and again I wont’ make the error of linking in the neo-cons to the trillions in military spending and the wiping out of the christian community in Iraq ………… or the millions who died in all those unnecessary wars …..

    On Hayek, I in many respects find his work on ‘knowledge in society’ very useful … and would like time to figure it out more … while simultaneously abhorring his flawed, ontological and political, ideology …………..

    Adam Smith was essentially a moral philosopher ……. how easy to forget such minor details …………. and in this respect, for closer to Marx, than to Mises. Ever heard of Hegel? To be plausibly one-dimensional one expects at least some modicum of understanding of other dimensions: those who do not are potentially dangerous ideological idiots ………… and if in power, eejits like the Irish citizen-serfs end up paying the price …..

    You got a One-Pager on Mises?

    Fundamentalism is a dangerous ism – whatever its particular bent ……….

  62. Upthread, paulr posed a question which deserves an answer but I don’t think it got one: “could you recommend a good book that gives the layman who has interest in Economics but can’t go back to study a good overview of the subject.” Since Karl Whelan hasn’t responded here’s my suggestion (well worth what it’s costing you).

    No single book does the job. Better to tackle micro, macro and applied separately. Varian’s Intermediate Microeconomics, despite the title, can be read without any prior knowledge. For applied economics, Krugman’s books are excellent, especially The Age of Diminished Expectations, The Accidental Theorist and The Return of Depression Economics.

    Once you’ve read those, with a bit of help from Google to flesh out anything that’s puzzling you, tackle Keynes, the master of macro. Skidelsky’s biography is terrific, and much of Essays in Persuasion is beautifully written – worth it for the prose alone.

  63. An afterthought for anyone who can’t stomach Keynes’s prose: (i) shame on you; (ii) Minsky’s book on Keynes covers a lot of ground.

  64. @ David, Kevin and others.

    On the suggestions here I went off and looked a bit a Minsky. I note with, slightly guilty, interest that on his wikipedia page it states: “Minsky stated his theories verbally, and did not build mathematical models based on them. Consequently, his theories have not been incorporated into mainstream economic models.”

    This reminded me a bit of a book I read once on 19th century bridge building. Essentially, there were two schools of thought, the British and the French. The British tended to be arch pragmatists and build according to what had not fallen down the last time. Consequently, like the Romans and Normans before them, they tended towards massively over-engineering to be safe, and therefore – like the lovely bridges over the Menai straights – many of them stood the test of time. (With notable exceptions!)

    The French, however, were more mathematical in their approach. On paper, this meant that they made better use of materials, but frequently ‘real world’ issues did not play out as predicted and/or the models were too simplistic, and consequently far more of them fell down.

  65. … and I used to think that a ‘Minsky Moment’ was one of those cocktails served up at the HorseShoe Bar (-;

    For the duration of the unacknowledged ‘Emergency’ – I’m off ALL Text-books – don’t trust them ….. [but ta for the leads …. might cheat and peak …..]
    and staying very inter-disciplinary …. simply brushing up on the weak economic dimension ….

    @Gavin Kostock
    Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol over the river Avon is the classic. (he was also very poor at finance & economics) The oldest ale-house in Bristol is also worth a visit …… (-;

    I won’t mention the Maginot Line – bridge too far at the mo …. vichy_banks an all dat

  66. @ Gavin Kostick

    I reckon you could have a fairly successful academic career by taking heterodox ideas, formalising them mathematically, and then publishing them in mainstream journals (giving appropriate credit of course).

  67. @Rory O’Farrell

    Can you name three ‘heterodox’ academic economists with successful careers in Ireland?

  68. Gavin,

    That French-English contrast shows up in some other areas, notably maths and economics. Newton didn’t supply much of a logical foundation for calculus, leaving it to Cauchy and his compatriots to pave the way for the epsilontics now inflicted on students. Similarly, the economics of Smith and Ricardo was rather vague. Walras started the process of turning economics into a branch of maths and a high proportion of the big names in mathematical economics are French: Debreu, Malinvaud, Allais etc.

    Minsky’s book on Keynes uses elementary calculus, as does Varian’s Intermediate Micro, but I assume that anyone seriously interested in economics won’t be put off by that.

  69. @ D O’D
    The neocons are not the neoliberals, although perhaps Friedman, painfully, is a link.
    Question remains, why is Mises hated AND ignored? It’s weird.
    Anyway, the freedom juggernaut is rolling. Matt Ridley’s “The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves” presents evidence that trade is central to human evolution. Trade may even have been the driver of the evolution of theory of mind, something even chimpanzees don’t have. Jared Diamond in “The Third Chimpanzee” gives evidence that modern humans seem to be descended from harem-based societies where the dominant male was much bigger than the females, and very violent. When we try to enforce socialism, or indeed wage war to try to spread democracy, imo, we are creating the environment for alpha males to dominate.
    Evolutionary biology is forcing “bottom-up” thinking in everything: see Dennett’s “decentralized” theory of consciousness, atheists’ and feminists’ growing interest in libertarianism and Hayek’s work on spontaneous order.
    Marx, remember, dedicated Das Kapital to Darwin, but of course, we now know that the unit of evolution is the gene, not the organism, and certainly not the species or race or class.
    The title “The Origin of Species” reflects the title “The Wealth of Nations”. Both contain the seeds of the disastrous habit of thinking about people as collectives of one sort or another.
    Re one-pagers, there’s this link to the text of Keynes’ disgraceful 1936 preface to the German edition of his “General Theory”.
    http://tmh.floonet.net/articles/foregt.html
    “The theory of aggregated production, which is the point of the following book, nevertheless can be much easier adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state [eines totalen Staates] than the theory of production and distribution of a given production put forth under conditions of free competition and a large degree of laissez-faire. “

  70. @ David

    The biggest thrill I ever felt at the sight of a bridge was the castiron one at mighty coalbrookdale.

    @ Rory
    Thanks for the kind suggestion. I shall stick to my own job for now.

    @ Kevin

    thanks for the further observations.

  71. @Karl – greatly improved course on the 1991 vintage. I’d have been quite proud to have spent a year doing your one.

  72. @David O’Donnell

    Well within economics departments Moore McDowell to the best of my knowledge is from the Austrian school (please correct me if I’m wrong) and I had a lecturer with a similar view who was involved in the competition authority. I consider both fairly successful.

    From a left-wing heterodox academic in Ireland no-one comes to mind from within economic depts, but there are plenty in other departments (you can look at TASC’s network of economists which includes some outside of economic depts).

    I shouldn’t have used the term heterodox. I don’t like orthodox/heterodox. I went to a self-described heterodox conference once and I felt that much of the methodology was very similar to orthodox.
    The econometric work in particular could have been at an ‘orthodox’ conference. It was just because the research focused on issues of inequality that it was included in the ‘heterodox’ conference.

    Personally I consider my background neo-classical, but some people consider my work heterodox because I’m interested in things like trade unions, inequality, bargaining power etc. I suppose its possible to be both. I think terms like mainstream should only apply to theoretical methodology. But its hard to define ‘mainstream’ for any subject. What is a ‘mainstream’ shirt? Is it just white? Buttoned down? Stripes? Is a microfibre shirt heterodox?

    Kalecky is something of a darling of heterodox economists, but he published in Econometrica, which is mainstream.

  73. @Rothbard

    If Mises is hated – he cannot be ignored!

    How do I put this gently? Let’s say you requested a consultation with Freud – and he suggested that you might be better off seeing Jung. Then you requested a consultation with Jung – and he suggested that you might be better off seeing Freud.

    Then you requested a consultation with Decartes and he replies: ‘I can’t help you – I’m as mortally afflicted with the illusions of the abstract individualist philosophy of consciousness as you are – we are both neanderthals, and doomed to lonely extinction.’

    That said, if it helps with your ontological sense of insecurity, and if it does no damage to the Other whom you are incapable of recognising, then do continue with those individualist illusions in company with all the free_dumb lovin aliens in the fox_newz dominated world. Throw an odd tea-party, whatever turn you on …

    btw the local chimps take exception to your reference to the non-state of their minds – nuff said!

  74. @Rory O’Farrell

    Moore_een McDowell, Someone, & NO-ONE!

    Wow! WOW! WOW_CUBED!

    Got a list of PD-reviewed publications from Moore_enn please. Looks like I gotta lot o brushing up to do.

    Heterodox is OK – useful term.

  75. … actually found a few! And a book … and UCD students probably reading it …(hard to know which frightens me more – reading a book by Moore McDowell or a Tome by Lorenzo Bini-Smaghi) & fairly roight-roight-roight-wing tink-tanks (no thanks!). but if you have an academic journal list I’d appreciate it …….. but then this is Richard Tol’s usual area ……….

    But, yes, looks like we may have different interpretations of ‘heterodoxy’ … more the merrier ……… certain levels of heterodoxy are healthy in any system – and based on recent empirical events, looks like political economy (here and everywhere) was somewhat lacking in such a doxy ….

    Got a one-pager on Kalecki?

  76. @ David O’Donnell

    Here is his wiki page
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micha%C5%82_Kalecki

    I’m no expert on him but basically he came up with similar stuff to Keynes, but from a Marxist perspective. I once went to a left-wing self-described heterodox conference and they all seemed to like him a lot.

    The reason I’m reluctant to use orthodox/neo-classical etc is that all good research should be at the cutting edge. If its an original idea then it can’t really be orthodox. Mainstream economics (I prefer that term as it is deliberately vague) has no central board (I suppose the closest thing is the editors of the top journals) to decide what is ‘orthodox’. This is in contrast to religions where you can have a Nicene Council decide what is orthodox, or for Marxism where the Comintern decided what was ‘orthodox’ Marxism. So mainstream economics can absorb outside ideas, like behavioural economics taking ideas from psychology.

    The only ‘belief’ I can think of that is important for mainstream economics is the need for micro-foundations in theoretical research. But this still leave econometrics. As econometrics is just a branch of statistics I think its easier to give it scientific validity. There is really no such thing as heterodox econometrics. Non-parametric econometrics might be avante garde, but it will probably become the ‘mainstream’ way of doing econometrics over the next 20 years as computer power improves.

  77. @Rory O’Farrell

    Ta for the link. As noted above, I’m simply brushing up on one of my weaker dimensions – but an all-round appreciation of divergent views is good in any branch of human or social science. The so-called maximising rational individual in supreme isolated abstract space is one of the most dangerous constructions to be encounted in social or human science. It does not exist anywhere in human space – it’s a flawed, if useful, abstraction – but, in certain ideological hands, as dangerous as the bubonic plague.

    Before being let loose on econometrics, a grounding in Heidegger’s world, Wittgenstein’s Language Games, and Habermas’ take on the one-sidedness of ‘instrumental rationality’ would not go astray, imho. Economists might then think about fitting equations to the people in the world, as distinct from trying to fit people to abstract equations whose beauty is purely mathematical – the latter being some of the most fundmentalist. There is also the minor issue of the incapability of mathematics to address meaning, and the neglect of hermeneutics in favour of pristine mathematical explanatics. Real life needs a pragmatic bit of both.

    Now, if you think selecting Moore McDowell as your No 1 HeteroDox Pick will enhance your UCD career prospects ……… well, what can I say … your selection just blew me away ………. (-; If Moore_een is the No 1 HeteroDox …….. the end is definitely roight nigh … or maybe you are winding me up with a little irony due to The Aesthtetic Turn …. even Colm McCarthy is dabbling at the mo ….

  78. Angela might have read Kalecki ……… lots of ‘political business cycles’ around ……

    John Maynard Keynes had said years before that knowledge of the laws governing the capitalist economy would make people more prosperous, happy and more responsible respect the economic decisions taken. However, Kalecki contested this view, arguing that in fact the idea of political business cycle (governments can force situations to their advantages) seems to point in the opposite direction. As he grew older, Kalecki was ever more convinced of this, showing an increasingly pessimistic view of humanity.’

    Certainly an interesting life …….. wonder is Moor_een a fan?

    @all
    C’mon – any more one pagers? Me ignorance is bliss!

  79. @David

    You wrote: “As noted above, I’m simply brushing up on one of my weaker dimensions – but an all-round appreciation of divergent views is good in any branch of human or social science.”

    Couldn’t agree more. But the fact that it’s impossible to come up with the name of even one left-wing Irish academic economist says all you need to know about the balance of perspectives in Irish Economics Departments. All of the economists in them are working under the assumption that capitalism is the system to be understood, the only (possible) system. Even if, pace Karl Whelan, some of them are interested in some of the “problems” or “inequities” of capitalism, none of them are investigating the possibility that capitalism itself might be the problem, that it is predicated on an obvious impossibility (limitless growth in a finite world) that is also an immorality.

  80. The only worry that I have about this course is that will the Students after attending the one year course become manic depressives based on their teacher’s predisposition.

  81. @ Ernie

    “it’s impossible to come up with the name of even one left-wing Irish academic economist says all you need to know about the balance of perspectives in Irish Economics Departments”

    Who says it’s impossible? Who did you ask? What’s your definition of left-wing? Does it have to involve thinking Karl Marx is very important rather than pointing to all the failures of capitalism that we teach every day as part of the syllabus?

    For what it’s worth, it’s generally considered that in the US, academic economists are predominantly left-leaning
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/w4q363786573275h/

  82. @Ernie Ball

    Yes – most most most surprising that one could not find ‘even ONE’ – I only sought three ‘heterodox’ – did not even specify ‘left’ – I’m sort of viewing the entire field as a potentially devious abstraction at a distance at the mo until I get a better, if rough enough, handle on it. Absence of critique to such a one-sided extent is really … amazingly …. mind-blowing! … but worrying that an intellectual vacuum exists, as it apparently does, to such an extent. John Charles McQuaid must have morphed into Ekonomics when passing to the other side …… in his heyday, he did not wield such doctrinaire, authoritarian, and totalitarian control …. one wonder’s how relevant this is to mess we are in now?

    C’mon – someone somewhere must know a career successful left/heterodox economist in the Irish University System …..

  83. @Karl Whelan

    Whom would you recommend? And we are discussing Ireland here – and picking up a bit of economics on the blog on the side ……..

    Name one: refute the proposition.

  84. @Ernie Ball

    Though not Irish, I would consider Stiglitz left wing and within the mainstream.

    @David O’Donnell

    If I were to recommend two books it would be The Economics Anti-Textbook (I don’t get commission despite constantly promoting this excellent book) and Capitalism and Its Economics: A Critical History. The latter is by Pluto Press which has Troskyist origins, but the book itself isn’t so in-your-face ideological. Anyway all books are ideological, its always good to know the ideology before reading them.

    Here is a list of left-wing/progressive economists. http://www.tascnet.ie/upload/file/Copy%20of%20Economists%20network.pdf
    Some, though not all, are academics.

  85. All of the economists [in Irish Economics Departments] them are working under the assumption that capitalism is the system to be understood, the only (possible) system.

    That’s a very sweeping claim. Presumably you have done a search and found nobody making any other assumption. Was the search very thorough? Did it include Kevin O’Rourke’s work? I haven’t read Power and Plenty, but it’s hard to believe that a history of the last thousand years of world trade was written under the assumption that capitalism is the system to be understood, the only (possible) system.

  86. @ Ernie, Karl & others

    Kieran Allen, whom you cited and with whom I have a passing acquaintance, is in UCD School of Sociology – does that count? He’s a proper revolutionary. You can tell that because he gets sneered at.

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