Monday, July 15, 2013

Pretty much complete syllabus - thoughts welcome and appreciated.


I'm going to take some time to noodle over how I want to structure the Keynes lectures, but everything else is done.

Thanks for the thoughts on the last one - some specific points were very helpful. I got a couple general comments about the value of focusing on the answer, through time, to a specific question. This would be a lot of fun and in a seminar it would be great but I'm expected to do (what Gene tells me Oakeshott called) a "museum tour" of the discipline. I also think there's value in making sure they know the sweep of the history before thinking more specifically. However - the point is very well taken. I've noticed in planning the syllabus that when I try to whittle each author down to the major points that need to be covered (and that I want to cover) in the time I have, there are some recurring themes. The two big ones are price/value theory and "crisis theory" or what you could also think of as the running debate on Say's Law. There are lots of smaller issues around these two, but I'm hoping if I really highlight those issues it can at least replicate in part this suggestion for a more focused course. The last two classes are on post-war micro (Dec. 2nd) and post-war macro (Dec. 6th), so the focus on price/value theory and Say's Law throughout the course get tied up nicely in that sense.

The "Modern Smithian" lecture is going to be the only one where the whole lecture and readings will be structured around modern versions of old ideas, but that's going to be a running theme throughout the course... for almost every figure on the syllabus there's going to be a slide to talk briefly about modern versions of their ideas.


  1. Although I doubt my suggestions will be incorporated anymore, it looks like a fun class, and I wish you and the students well, Daniel.

    A few questions...

    1.) Who was going to be the guest lecturer for Kalecki?

    2.) You really seemed to be focused on Adam Smith's contribution to international trade. Have you considered actually giving any readings by any Adam Smith scholars (like Ian S. Ross, or Andrew S. Skinner, or Gavin Kennedy) that deal with the connection between The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations?

    1. :) your suggestions are always welcome I'm just not going to have a lot of secondary reading on more detailed topics (no matter who it comes from!).

      1. Prof. Blecker (my history of thought and macro political economy professor) may come in... he's not sure what his schedule is like but he's willing. Also may depend on where they seem to be with their essay and how many are even around that week - I may just give them the day.

      2. In the Modern Smithians lecture the Vernon Smith reading is all about the Moral Sentiments/Wealth of Nations connection. I will take a look at these authors to mention during the lecture. One of the things I like about having them read Vernon Smith is that he's a Nobel laureate - so a good one to be familiar with. these are also good to keep in mind if someone does an essay on the topic.

    2. I'll be glad to hear if you take the time to skim the writings of the Adam Smith scholars on the connection between The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations. Deirdre McCloskey had an article published in History of Political Economy a few years ago that might be of interest to you, BTW.

      As for the guest lecturer on Michal Kalecki...I see. Are you aware whether the Economics Department has considered any other alternatives besides him?

    3. What do you mean has the department considered any alternatives? It's my class.

    4. "As for the guest lecturer on Michal Kalecki...I see. Are you aware whether the Economics Department has considered any other alternatives besides him?"

      I should have been clearer. Is there anyone else who might come in to lecture on Michal Kalecki in case Professor Robert Blecker isn't available?

  2. Are you going to just teach the GT? Stick to chapter 1-3, 12 and 22(? whichever euthanizes the rentier). I honestly don't think those chapters really get to the core of what the GT is right about, but 1-3 are close enough and 12 and 22 are fun to read.

    Also, not sure its fair to give Lucas the last word. I talked a lot about the Phillips curve debate and my students watched some of "Free to Choose" (and also read Rodgers "Age of Fracture") which I felt gave them the essential flavor of what was happening in the 70s/80s. The way your syllabus reads you give heterodox stuff more coverage than the "Keynsian consensus", which was an actual dominant paradigm that had a direct influence on policy.

    *You should read chapter two of this book, if just for your own benefit as background.

    1. Thanks for the book.

      Keynes will probably be just GT, ya. I need to think about those last two days. I was thinking about one on macro and one on micro but there's more engaging stuff in the macro (and we kind of tie up micro with the marginal revolution... of course there's more but that starts to get into the weeds quickly). So maybe I should do consensus then rational expectations/Lucas critique/microfoundations.

      That was really the point of Lucas. First, the paper is fairly readable (I dropped the sections that were more technical and addressed things we don't talk about much like taxes). When I think of "what has changed about macro between now and the 50s two things stand out: rational expectations and microfoundations. So that's why Lucas is in there. That's the microfoundations point and rational expectations comes in in the discussion of the Phillips Curve in that article. Since New Keynesianism comes from all that too I don't see it as some kind of New Classical finale.

      But those days were just put together the quickest - I'll think about it some more. Their paper is due that week so I figured I wanted to do less reading that week too.

      Thanks - this is very helpful.

      (on the heterodox point... we're a heterodox department - gotta give them that dimension!). There's actually less than under the last professor. He had four days on Marx, two days on institutionalists, and a day on Austrians.

    2. No Book V of The General Theory, Daniel Kuehn? :-P

      Seriously though, if you can't cover Book V, I would actually suggest that you cover Chapters 15 and 17 of The General Theory. They give a good idea of how liquidity preference works.

  3. For the day on Hayek and the Austrians, I would suggest switching the reading to something in _Individualism and Economic Order_ rather than _Prices and Production_. Your class seems to be focused heavily on the macro-side of things, so a reading from _Prices and Production_ makes sense within that context. Still, I think the themes within _Individualism and Economic Order_ would be a better introduction to the thought of Hayek and the Austrians.

    Either "The Use of Knowledge in Society" or "The Meaning of Competition" would better serve that purpose than lecture ii of _Prices and Production_. Plus, they would make for better subjects of a one-shot lecture whereas I think the themes of _Prices and Production_'s second lecture would require more time to adequately elucidate.


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