2 Economics but not as you know it Ha-Joon Chang Faculty of Economics & Centre of Development Studies University of Cambridge Website:
4 So, what is different about this book? I Nothing that cannot be understood by someone with a secondary education (Hopefully, a lot easier to read than the first ever Pelican paperback, George Bernard Shaw s The Intelligent Woman s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism)
6 Table of Contents PROLOGUE. Why Bother?: Why do you need to learn economics? INTERLUDE I: How to read this book PART I. Getting used to it Chapter 1. Life, The Universe, and Everything: What is economics? Chapter 2. From Pin to PIN: Capitalism 1776 and 2014 Chapter 3. How have we got here?: A brief history of capitalism Chapter 4. Let a hundred flowers bloom: How to do economics Chapter 5. Dramatis Personae: Who are the economic actors? INTERLUDE II: Moving on PART II. Using it Chapter 6. How many do you want it to be?: Output, income, and happiness Chapter 7. How does your garden grow?: The world of production Chapter 8. Trouble at the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank: Finance Chapter 9. Boris s goat should drop dead: Inequality and poverty Chapter 10. I ve known a few people who ve worked: Work and unemployment Chapter 11. Leviathan or the Philosopher King?: The role of the state Chapter 12. All things in prolific abundance : The international dimension EPILOGUE. What now?: How can we use economics to make our economy better?
7 So, what is different about this book? II Neglected topics: What is economics? History of capitalism Different schools of economics Production Work Emphasis on real life numbers But with due scepticism Everything factual is already a theory. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
8 What is economics? I Economics is supposed to be about.
10 What is economics? II Really, it is supposed to explain Life, the Universe (or at least the World), and (almost) Everything.
12 What is economics? III The standard definition: Economics is the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses (Lionel Robbins, An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science. 1932) So, there is only one way to do economics that is, rational choice theory But, economics should be defined not in terms of its methodology, or theoretical approach, but in terms of its subject matter, that is, the economy (money, jobs, transfers, consumption, production). If you follow this definition, there are many different ways of studying economics (biology vs. economics).
13 Many Different Schools of Economics At least nine major schools of economics Classical Neoclassical Marxist Keynesian Schumpeterian (neo-schumpeterian) Austrian Institutionalist (Old and New) Behaviouralist Developmentalist Several smaller schools Neo-Ricardian, Latin American Structuralist, Evolutionary, Feminist, Ecological
14 We need diverse approaches to economics. - The Singapore Problem or Life is Stranger than Fiction.
15 Let a hundred flowers bloom There isn t just one right way of doing economics but there are many schools of economics, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. No theory, in economics or elsewhere, can explain everything, so we need to let a hundred flowers bloom. However, recognising that there are different approaches is not enough. The diversity needs to be preserved, or even encouraged. Especially in the longer run, a discipline that contains a variety of approaches can cope with a changing world better than one with a single approach.
16 Let a hundred flowers cross-fertilise I would go one step further and argue that we shouldn t just let a hundred flowers bloom but need to have them cross-fertilised. Different approaches to economics can actually benefit a lot from learning from each other, making our understanding of the economic world richer. Even between schools that we think and, more importantly, most of the members of the schools think are incompatible with each other (e.g., Austrians-Marxists on technology, Keynesians-Austrians on uncertainty). Don t be a man (or a woman) with a hammer Get a Swiss army knife! (and the sense to judge which one to use)
18 What to do? Never trust an economist (and that includes me!) The willingness to challenge professional economists and other experts should be a foundation of democracy. Audite et alteram partem (Listen even to the other side) The need for humility and an open mind Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will Changes are difficult to make, but even big ones are possible, if you try hard enough and long enough. It always seems impossible until it is done. (Nelson Mandela)
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