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Home / Amol Agrawal: Mostly Economics / 2008-18: A decade where mainstream academic world and mainstream policy world went own ways..

2008-18: A decade where mainstream academic world and mainstream policy world went own ways..

Summary:
JW Mason gives a nice overview of macroeconomic research in the decade: He says the macro research may not have changed in academic world but in policy world there are sure changes. Has economics changed since the crisis? As usual, the answer is: It depends. If we look at the macroeconomic theory of PhD programs and top journals, the answer is clearly, no. Macroeconomic theory remains the same self-contained, abstract art form that it has been for the past twenty-five years. But despite its hegemony over the peak institutions of academic economics, this mainstream is not the only mainstream. The economics of the mainstream policy world (central bankers, Treasury staffers, Financial Times editorialists), only intermittently attentive to the journals in the best times, has gone its own

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JW Mason gives a nice overview of macroeconomic research in the decade:

He says the macro research may not have changed in academic world but in policy world there are sure changes.

Has economics changed since the crisis? As usual, the answer is: It depends. If we look at the macroeconomic theory of PhD programs and top journals, the answer is clearly, no. Macroeconomic theory remains the same self-contained, abstract art form that it has been for the past twenty-five years. But despite its hegemony over the peak institutions of academic economics, this mainstream is not the only mainstream. The economics of the mainstream policy world (central bankers, Treasury staffers, Financial Times editorialists), only intermittently attentive to the journals in the best times, has gone its own way; the pieties of a decade ago have much less of a hold today. And within the elite academic world, there’s plenty of empirical work that responds to the developments of the past ten years, even if it doesn’t — yet — add up to any alternative vision.

For a socialist, it’s probably a mistake to see economists primarily as either carriers of valuable technical expertise or systematic expositors of capitalist ideology. They are participants in public debates just like anyone else. The profession as the whole is more often found trailing after political developments than advancing them.

……

Many critics were disappointed the crisis of a 2008 did not lead to an intellectual revolution on the scale of the 1930s. It’s true that it didn’t. But the image of stasis you’d get from looking at the top journals and textbooks isn’t the whole picture — the most interesting conversations are happening somewhere else. For a generation, leftists in economics have struggled to change the profession, some by launching attacks (often well aimed, but ignored) from the outside, others by trying to make radical ideas parsable in the orthodox language. One lesson of the past decade is that both groups got it backward.

Keynes famously wrote that “Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” It’s a good line. But in recent years the relationship seems to have been more the other way round. If we want to change the economics profession, we need to start changing the world. Economics will follow.

Hmm..

This line-  the image of stasis you’d get from looking at the top journals and textbooks isn’t the whole picture, the most interesting conversations are happening somewhere else – is quite true. You get far more ideas reading newspapers and blogs (most of which ironically are written by top academicians) than reading journals and textbooks..

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Amol Agrawal
I am currently pursuing my PhD in economics. I have work-ex of nearly 10 years with most of those years spent figuring economic research in Mumbai’s financial sector.

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