Orthodox economists have failed their own market test

“Any other profession that had proved so spectacularly wrong and caused such devastation would surely be in disgrace. You might even imagine the free-market economists who dominate our universities and advise governments and banks would be rethinking their theories and considering alternatives. …

Most mainstream economists have carried on as if nothing had happened.

Many of their students, though, have had enough. A revolt against the orthodoxy has been smouldering for years and now seems to have gone critical. Fed up with parallel universe theories that have little to say about the world they’re interested in, students at Manchester University have set up a post-crash economics society with 800 members, demanding an end to monolithic neoclassical courses and the introduction of a pluralist curriculum. …

Its supporters have an “almost religious mentality”, as Ha-Joon Chang – one of the last surviving independent economists at Keynes’s Cambridge – puts it. Although claiming to favour competition, the neoclassicals won’t tolerate any themselves. Forty years ago, most economics departments were Keynesian and neoclassical economics was derided. That all changed with the Thatcher and Reagan ascendancy.

In institutions supposed to foster debate, non-neoclassical economists have been systematically purged from economics faculties. Some have found refuge in business schools, development studies and geography departments. In the US, corporate funding has been key. In Britain, peer review through the “research excellence framework” – which allocates public research funding – has been the main mechanism for the ideological cleansing of economics.”


About angelajoya

Assistant Professor, Middle East Political Economy, at the University of Oregon. Currently writing on the Egyptian revolution and the Syrian crisis.
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4 Responses to Orthodox economists have failed their own market test

  1. Hey I find your post quite interesting. This type of news are proof that a new epistemological conception on the Economics science is building up. The movement against the neoclassical dogmatism in Economics sylabus has had a long history since 2008. For example the disertion in Greg Mankiw’s economic principles class in 2011, and the French Post-autistic economics movement arguing complete dissatisfaction with the teaching done in economics program. And now this movement in Manchester University. I am an economics student myself and I also consider a whole review and complete reform on the teaching must be done in order to rethink the actual position of the science as well as the main goals and objectives of the economists. Which, among of them, I think the most important is to improve the welfare of the people. Thus the people should no longer be at serve of the economy and economists, but the economy and economist should be at serve of the people. That’s when the debate starts. Cheers!

  2. angelajoya says:

    Thank you for your comment. Yes, indeed, given the financial crisis that rocked the global economy and affected millions of workers around the world, it is time to demand changes in the economics curriculum and a serious revision of economics theories. Looking forward to more of these developments in other university departments around the world.

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