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The Assumptions Economists Make
     

The Assumptions Economists Make

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by Jonathan Schlefer
 

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ISBN-10: 0674052269

ISBN-13: 9780674052260

Pub. Date: 03/20/2012

Publisher: Harvard

Economists make confident assertions in op-ed columns and on cable news—so why are their explanations often at odds with equally confident assertions from other economists? And why are all economic predictions so rarely borne out? Harnessing his frustration with these contradictions, Jonathan Schlefer set out to investigate how economists arrive at

Overview

Economists make confident assertions in op-ed columns and on cable news—so why are their explanations often at odds with equally confident assertions from other economists? And why are all economic predictions so rarely borne out? Harnessing his frustration with these contradictions, Jonathan Schlefer set out to investigate how economists arrive at their opinions.

While economists cloak their views in the aura of science, what they actually do is make assumptions about the world, use those assumptions to build imaginary economies (known as models), and from those models generate conclusions. Their models can be useful or dangerous, and it is surprisingly difficult to tell which is which. Schlefer arms us with an understanding of rival assumptions and models reaching back to Adam Smith and forward to cutting-edge theorists today. Although abstract, mathematical thinking characterizes economists’ work, Schlefer reminds us that economists are unavoidably human. They fall prey to fads and enthusiasms and subscribe to ideologies that shape their assumptions, sometimes in problematic ways.

Schlefer takes up current controversies such as income inequality and the financial crisis, for which he holds economists in large part accountable. Although theorists won international acclaim for creating models that demonstrated the inherent instability of markets, ostensibly practical economists ignored those accepted theories and instead relied on their blind faith in the invisible hand of unregulated enterprise. Schlefer explains how the politics of economics allowed them to do so. The Assumptions Economists Make renders the behavior of economists much more comprehensible, if not less irrational.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674052260
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
03/20/2012
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

A Personal Note ix

1 The Metaphor of the Invisible Hand 1

2 What Do Economists Do? 24

3 In Search of a Model 32

4 Economics When Society Matters 46

5 Chasing a Chimera 66

6 Utopia 72

7 This Imperfect World 93

8 Entering the Realm of Production 99

9 What Caused Income Inequality? 121

10 Understanding an Uncertain World 137

11 In the Long Run 165

12 In the Short Run 189

13 The Puzzle of the Golden Age of Capitalism 215

14 Economies in Crisis 238

15 Thinking about Economies 263

Notes 283

References 317

Index 331

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The Assumptions Economists Make 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
TedMorgan More than 1 year ago
This book is going to require some work from me. It is well written and deals with matters that very much intrigue me. I do read economics but not was fast as I read from other disciplines. This work deals with matters that I have to research to understand the critique Professor Schlefer makes. \I have to commend Harvard University Press for the physical quality of their books. Not all university publishers are as careful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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