Friday, December 30, 2011


Commenter Prateek Sanjay writes:

"While Steve Keen may say that mainstream economics is an emperor without clothes, it would seem to me that much of heterodox economics is the peasant that everyone knew was always naked."

I agree with the broad sentiment and caution about heterodox economics, but I'm reluctant to say it quite so forcefully myself. Commenter Blue Aurora was once surprised at a statement I made once that seemed to embrace some heterodox position, and then proceeded to ask my why it is I consider myself "orthodox" and "neoliberal". My response to him was that "mine is a promiscuous orthodoxy".

Look, most people that spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff are thoughtful people and they have good ideas. If you spend a lot of time thinking and talking about what other people think, and if you're not a complete jackass, you're going to find lots of things to appreciate in the insights of others. The reason why I appreciate a lot of heterodox economics is precisely the same reason why I agree with Prateek about the absurdity of a lot of heterodox swipes at orthodox economics: people that spend time thinking about this sort of stuff usually aren't as slow as you think they are.


  1. I guess I wrote it in a too snarky way. I was just searching for a comparison.

    I think a similar sentiment can be expressed towards those who talk about opportunity costs or "unseen costs". Some pro-marketers mention that government spending crowds out private investment, and that economics orthodoxy is foolish not to acknowledge it.

    The truth is that the orthodoxy does acknowledge it, in some specific situations. In times of recession or deflation, it is obvious that government debts do not crowd out private investment, if they wouldn't have been made.

    Paul Krugman once said something to the effect of: "People always ask me: 'As a Nobel Prize winning economist, did you ever consider...' The truth is that I most likely have considered your point, but there were other pressing concerns as well."

    The truth is that the heterodoxy often represents what is really one of the many diverse ways of thinking in the orthodoxy.

  2. Are you guys mostly talking about/thinking about right wing heterodoxy?

    Relatedly, I skimmed that economist article and I don't really see any mention of the kind of heterodox econ at Umass Amherst or the New School (or once upon a time Cambridge) mentioned.

  3. To an outsider the last few years have been very bad ones for the field of economics and should have really called into question all manner of assumptions; yet you've got these little internal squabbles going on that are pointless. To double down is human.

  4. I don't believe I asked you the neoliberal part, but I do remember asking you about the orthodox Keynesian part.


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