Search Results

Those whose mission in life is to recover Adam Smith’s supposedly lost legacy just can’t get enough of bashing the work of Karl Polanyi. Like the Energizer bunny, they keep going and going and going. The latest is by Mark Pennington, who claims that Polanyi’s “insights are either historically inaccurate or based on a crude […]

   As I tell my students, nothing gets a mainstream economist frothing at the mouth quite like mentioning Karl Polanyi. Or at least it used to, when mainstream economists actually knew who Polanyi was and grasped—however dismissively—what he wrote about the history of capitalism. To his credit, Eric Hilt (pdf) appears to know something about […]

Right now, lots of people—especially young people—don’t believe in capitalism. And so Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan takes it upon himself to make the counter-argument, that capitalism is actually good: because the “free market” fights poverty. But it doesn’t. And it can’t. What Mullainathan describes, when food banks bid on donations (pasta vs. fresh vegetables, for example), is not really a market. As I […]

Both Dani Rodrick and Brad DeLong understand that capitalism can’t be let off the hook. Its failures—which take the form of obscene levels of inequality, growing economic insecurity, and so on—are responsible for what they refer to as the “populist backlash” in the United States and Europe. But, instead of exploring alternatives to capitalism, both Rodrick and DeLong […]

Adam Morton and some of his new colleagues at the University of Sydney are organizing a workshop, Questioning the Utopian Springs of Market Economy, in August of this year. The initiative for the workshop stems from the seventieth anniversary, falling in 2014, of the publication of two seminal political economy texts written respectively by Karl […]

Once again, this coming fall, I’ll be teaching Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation in my Topics in Political Economy course. It’s a course based entirely on books (plus a few political economy films, starting with Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times). I teach four classic texts of political economy, starting with Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and […]

In the midst of continuing massive unemployment (while ending supplementary unemployment insurance benefits) and poverty (while cutting the food-stamps program), there seems to be a new consensus emerging: that higher minimum wages and Earned Income Tax Credits are complementary programs to help the working poor.* But wait: isn’t it the case that the EITC program—in […]

source Zachary Karabell [ht: gh] is right on two counts: First, the “laws of economics” are often invoked to rule out policies and strategies, including alternative institutions, to solve pressing economic and social problems. And second, “laws of economics” don’t actually exist. Referencing “the laws of economics” as a way to refute arguments or criticize […]

I just received my copy of Meme Wars: The Creative Destruction of Neoclassical Economics, by Kalle Lasn and Adbusters, which I’m finding to be a disconcerting critique of economics. On one hand, Meme Wars is clearly an attempt to question and point in the direction of a radical alternative to neoclassical economics. But, on the […]

Occupy Our Homes is the latest extension of the Occupy movement. Karl Polanyi argued, in The Great Transformation, that capitalism, as a self-regulating market system, was based on three fictitious commodities: labor, land, and money. Occupy Wall Street has successfully contested the commodification of money, in the form of large banks and the stock market. […]