Entries by Ed Walker

Neoliberal Markets Deliver for the Rich

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 […]

Homo Economicus and the Absurd Human

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 […]

Deconstructing Neoclassical Utility

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 […]

Neoliberal Utility and the Paradox of Taxation

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 […]

Piketty Gets A Laugh At Mankiw’s Expense

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 […]

A Proposed Definition of Market Economy

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, […]

A Proposed Definition of Market

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 […]

The Problem With Market Definitions

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 […]

What is the Definition of a Market?

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.): […]