Revealing the mystery of persistent economic failure, this book explains how the distorted view of economics has protected vested interests and prevented a more efficient economy, more equitable distribution of wealth and greater protection for the environment.
This book is for those who know there is something wrong with our current system and want to discover more about what this is and what can be done to put it right.
Some years ago, The Economist carried a lead editorial, ‘The puzzling failure of economics’. The frank admission was provoked by the publication of a new edition of Paul Samuelson’s Economist. The editorial concluded that it ‘is not a failure of economics, in fact, but of modern [neo-classical] economics’.
In the second edition of The Corruption of Economics, the authors argue there is nothing puzzling about this failure. They document how the integrity of economics as a discipline was deliberately compromised towards the end of the 19th century. The tool for this strategy became new-classical economics. Classical economists like Adam Smith had described wealth as the product of three factors – land, labour and capital, whereas the new theorists reduced these to two, labour and capital, treating land as capital.
The effect, the authors reveal, was to deprive professional economists of the ability to diagnose problems, forecast important trends and prescribe solutions. Neo-classical economics condemns the post-industrial economy to protracted periods of economic failure.
The contributors are … in tune with the increasing realization by economists of the importance of the property market to the macroeconomy.
Mason Gaffney was a professor of economics at the University of California (Riverside) and a leading authority on the economics of natural resources. He published extensively on urban economics and public finance.
Fred Harrison is the executive director of the Land Research Trust and author of the best-selling book, Power in the Land.