Category Archives: Economics (Critiques of)

The Macroeconomics Anti-Textbook by Tony Myatt

Cover of the Macroeconomics Anti-Textbook

Mainstream textbooks present economics as an objective science, free from value judgements. This book demonstrates this to be a myth – one which serves to make such textbooks not only off-puttingly bland, but also dangerously misleading in their justification of the status quo and neglect of alternatives.

In this much-needed companion volume to the popular Microeconomics Anti-Textbook, Tony Myatt reveals how the blind spots and methodological problems present in microeconomics continue to exert their influence in mainstream macroeconomics. From a flawed conception of the labour market, to a Pollyana view of the financial sector, macroeconomic principles as they are set out in conventional undergraduate textbooks consistently fail to set out a realistic, useful, or equitable framework for understanding the world.

By summarising and then critically evaluating the major topics found in a typical macroeconomics textbook, the Anti-Textbook lays bare their sins of omission and commission, showing where hidden value judgements are made and when contrary evidence and alternative theories are ignored. The Macroeconomics Anti-Textbook is the student’s essential guide to decoding mainstream macroeconomic textbooks, and demonstrating how real-world economics are much more interesting than most economists are willing to let on.

See book webpage.

The Tragic Science by George F. DeMartino

The Tragic Science: How Economists Cause Harm (Even as They Aspire to Do Good) by George F. DeMartino University of Chicago Press 2022

The practice of economics, as economists will tell you, is a powerful force for good. Economists are the guardians of the world’s economies and financial systems. The applications of economic theory can alleviate poverty, reduce disease, and promote sustainability. 

While this narrative has been successfully propagated by economists, it belies a more challenging truth: economic interventions, including those economists deem successful, also cause harm. Sometimes the harm is manageable and short-lived. But just as often the harm is deep, enduring, and even irreparable. And too often the harm falls on those least able to survive it. 

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Alligators in the Arctic and How to Avoid Them: Science, Economics and the Challenge of Catastrophic Climate Change by Peter Dorman

Alligators in the Arctic and How to Avoid Them: Science, Economics and the Challenge of Catastrophic Climate Change by Peter Dorman Cambridge University Press

Climate change is a matter of extreme urgency. Integrating science and economics, this book demonstrates the need for measures to put a strict lid on cumulative carbon emissions and shows how to implement them. Using the carbon budget framework, it reveals the shortcomings of current policies and the debates around them, such as the popular enthusiasm for individual solutions and the fruitless search for ‘optimal’ regulation by economists and other specialists. On the political front, it explains why business opposition to the policies we need goes well beyond the fossil fuel industry, requiring a more radical rebalancing of power. This wide-ranging study goes against the most prevalent approaches in mainstream economics, which argue that we can tackle climate change while causing minimal disruption to the global economy. The author argues that this view is not only impossible, but also dangerously complacent.

Heterodox Economics and the Economics of Harm

Heterodox Economics and the Economics of Harm Lane Vanderslice Journal of Economic Issues June 2022 (15 page PDF download) Much of heterodox economics, such as institutional, feminist, and conflict economics, has focused on major areas of harm, developing and strengthening the analysis of harm. The two costs have been terminologies which differ among the various approaches and the (unmet) need to bring the approaches together in an overall view of harm. Heterodox economics (and the relatively few orthodox authors) are on the right track in understanding productive + harmful economic systems while orthodox economics, as shown by its textbooks, is not. Yet the wrong approach is the dominant one. Will the truth win out?

Link to the article in the JEI