Eric J. Weiner: Economics' Big Shakeup





Eric J. Weiner is the senior editor and director of communications at the Institute for New Economic Thinking in New York.

There is a growing student protest movement against orthodox economics that could change the field as we know it.

If it is sustained, historians likely will cite Nov. 2, 2011, as the start of the revolution. On that day at Harvard University, roughly 70 students organized a walkout of an introductory economics class taught by N. Gregory Mankiw.

The students who walked out of Mankiw's class explained their reasoning in an open letter printed in the Harvard Political Review. It began with this declaration: "Today, we are walking out of your class, Economics 10, in order to express our discontent with the bias inherent in this introductory economics course. We are deeply concerned about the way that this bias affects students, the University [sic], and our greater society."...

Their argument struck a chord with the wider economics community. Suddenly, many more economists started to acknowledge, at least in private, that something is terribly wrong with the field....

Why is this happening, and why now? Obviously, the global financial crisis brought the failures of the economics profession into stark relief. But there still hasn't been a significant public movement of established professional economists away from orthodox theories. However, as the pernicious effects of instability and inequality become part of daily life, frustration with stale economic ideas is starting to turn into action — at least on the part of some....




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