This is a cross-post with some modifications from Naked Capitalism. It is a truth universally acknowledged by all good citizens that markets are the only way to organize a society. The implication is that the role of government is to support and protect the operations of markets, and little else. I’ve been looking at this […]
Author Archive for: masaccio
About Ed Walker
Notre Dame undergrad (math); JD, Indiana University at Bloomington; 1st Lieutenant, US Army.; private practice in corporate and securities law; Assistant AG in Tennessee for consumer protection and securities; Blue Sky Securities Commissioner, Tennessee; private practice, bankruptcy and corporate law.
I have had a lifelong interest in economics. For most of my career, that interest was practical, focused on the problems in front of me. Lately I have been more interested in economics as a theory, especially its impact on the lives of people like those I met in my bankruptcy practice, and on the politics of money in the US. I also enjoy reading philosophers, starting in college and steadily expanding my reading ever since. I wrote at FireDogLake for a number of years.
Generally, I think the problem facing the US is the dominance of neoliberal discourse. I think it clouds the vision, and limits the kinds of problems that can be identified and solved. For example, the existence and danger of climate change can easily be identified in a scientific discussion. However, the problem does not fit the neoliberal discourse because science insists that the pursuit of individual and corporate self-interest will lead to devastation. In neoliberal discourse, the pursuit of self-interest always leads to Eden.
The neoliberal project has two prongs. One is the police function of crushing dissent and alternative views. The police function is provided by government agencies and private and institutional actors. The counterpart is the economic system , which is operated by government and by private and institutional actors. Some of these actors operate in both spheres. I focus on the second prong.
Entries by Ed Walker
The neoliberal project offers a vision of two classes, the rich, and homo economicus, the consuming human. Homo economicus is a new creature in the world, one of a long string of visions offered to the great mass of humans by the elites. It has sunk in so quickly that we are often unable to […]
Several commenters have pointed out definitional problems with the term “utility” as used in neoclassical economics, including Tarheel Dem, rg and Alan. As I noted in the linked post, Samuelson and Nordhaus are careful to call utility a “ scientific construct”, and not a measurable thing. Philip Mirowski is very helpful in clarifying what this […]
I’ve written about definitions and uses of “market” in several posts. The term “utility” is equally important in the development of mainstream economics. Here’s what Samuelson and Nordhaus say in Economics, 2005 ed.: In a word, utility denotes satisfaction. More precisely, it refers to how consumers rank different goods and services. If basket A has […]
I’m not a fan of the former Bush economics adviser and Harvard economics professor N. Gregory Mankiw, so I was delighted to see Thomas Piketty make a joke about him at the recent meeting of the American Economics Association. Chuck Collins of the Institute for Policy Studies was there, attending one of the panels on […]
I’ve put up several weedy posts explaining my view of the terms Market and Market Economy. In this post I pull back to see how this all fits in with neoliberalism. The basic idea of 19th Century liberalism was stated by Milton Friedman in this essay: This development, which was a reaction against the authoritarian […]
In this post, I give a proposed definition of the term “market”: A market is the set of social arrangements under which people buy and sell specific goods and services at a specific point in time. Social arrangements means all of the things that constrain and organize human action, including laws, regulations, social expectations, conventions, […]
Over several posts, I have criticized standard economic textbook definitions of market, here and here. I neglected to mention one, the idea that markets are an emergent phenomenon; here’s a discussion of that lunatic definition. Here’s my proposed definition: A market is the set of social arrangements under which people buy and sell specific goods […]
It is an article of faith in the US that the free market system is the best possible system for allocating scarce resources. Samuelson and Nordhaus have a long explanation of the glories of this kind of allocation. Economics 2005 ed. P. 26. One source for this idea is the early neoclassical economist William Stanley […]
The US economic system is based on what we’ve all agreed to call free markets. The entire system is often called the free market system instead of the capitalist system. I’ve been looking for a definition of the term market. 1. Textbook Definition. Samuelson and Nordhaus define markets early in their textbook Economics (2005 ed.): […]