In this episode we present a book panel on the book Jan Tinbergen (1903-1994) and the Rise of Economic Expertise (CUP, 2021) by our regular host Erwin Dekker. Reinhard Schumacher provides a brief introduction to the panel which is chaired by Arjo Klamer, Professor of Cultural Economics at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. The panel opens with reflections on the book and the legacy of Jan Tinbergen, the first Nobel Prize winner in Economics and famous econometrician, by another Nobel Laureate James Heckman, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. The other panelists offer their reflections on the econometric and economic contributions of Tinbergen, and in particular his role as broker between academia and policy circles, a main argument of the book is that Tinbergen secured a permanent place for economic experts and models in policy circles. They also explore Tinbergen’s socialist convictions, his internationalism and dedication to peace, as well as his and their personal motivations to be an economist.
Guest hosts: Wilhelm Aminoff, Wyatt DeLong, Farrah Aridou, Jonathan Noulowe II and Paul Harding, students of a history of economics course at the American University of Paris.
Inspired by Radiolab’s episode on the cataclysm sentence, this episode explores whether we could find a cataclysm sentence for economics. Radiolab had found out about the famous and award winning physicist, Richard Feynman, who in the 60s wanted to revamp the physics undergraduate degree to get more researchers into physics. He started his course at Caltech with what he called the cataclysm sentence, which is:
“If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence was passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words?”
We changed it a bit to apply only to economics:
“The one piece of economic knowledge that you would pass on to a future society if ours were to perish in a cataclysm.”
Along with students at the American University of Paris, we interviewed four people, an economic historian, an ecological economist, a feminist political economist and an historian of economics. Here is the list of their cataclysm sentences:
“Although not reducible to biophysics, the human economy is nevertheless ecologically constrained, especially in its primary macroeconomic goal of aggregate growth, by the fact that it is a physical subsystem of a finite ecosphere that lives from a non growing entropic flow of solar energy captured by scarce and depleting terrestrial materials.”
“Economics was a temporary science Necessary in times of perceived scarcity To understand the ways In which human needs Translated In various ways of organising human activities” (pictured above)
While everyone had slightly different takes on the task and took us down different avenues of knowledge, there were several common themes. So fasten your seat belts, as we take you on a journey of discovery and at times a rather philosophical, utopic and radical discussion about what really matters.
In this episode, Erwin talks with Alain Marciano and Pete Boettke about The Soul of Classical Political Economy a book they co-edited with archival material from the James Buchanan archives located at George Mason University. James Buchanan, Nobel Laureate in 1986 was an American economist who started as public finance scholar, who established the field of public choice and pioneered the constitutional political economy approach. They discuss the formation of the archives since Buchanan’s death in 2013, his role in the development of the Virginia School of Political Economy, his academic entrepreneurship and attempts to develop intellectual centres in sometimes hostile academic environments as well the evolution of his research program. Pete Boettke details the way in which Buchanan attempted to create a vibrant intellectual environment at the various universities in which he worked. Alain Marciano, who is working on an intellectual biography of Buchanan, explains the way in which the archives inform his project and how life and work became one for Buchanan.
Join Maria Bach for an interview with Kapil Raj about his approach in the history of science. Dr. Raj is Professor of the History of Science at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (The School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences) in Paris. In particular, they discuss Raj’s book Relocating Modern Science.
In this episode, Reinhard and Erwin talk with Stefan Kolev and Mark McAdam about the recent translation of eight classic articles in the tradition of German Socio-Economics including work by Georg Simmel, Joseph Schumpeter, Gustav Schmoller and Ferdinand Tönnies. These articles were picked from the rich archive of Schmollers Jahrbuch (currently Journal of Contextual Economics). They discuss the best way to understand the German tradition of Socio-Economics, the helpfulness of the Historical School label, how institutional change is best studied, and how relevant this tradition of thought is to under current socio-economic transformations around the world. The editors of these translations also discuss the process of translation both language wise and between different intellectual traditions.
The issue of the Journal of Contextual Economics with all translation and original articles is open-access for a limited amount of time.
In this episode, Maria interviews three scholars who study underrepresented or what she calls marginalised voices in the history of policy and economics. They discuss why they came to study such lesser known figures and how the research can give us new perspectives. They also share the difficulties and constraints that they face. Jaci Eisenberg studied American women who contributed to the League of Nations. Gerardo Serra studies the history of economics and statistics in 20th century Ghana. Sharmin Khodaiji researches the institutionalisation of political economy in India. Listen to find out more about their research!
In this episode, Till Düppe talks with Reinhard about the development of Economics in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), better known as East Germany – a state that existed from 1948 until 1990. We discuss Till’s general approach of historical epistemology of economics before discussing in detail the development of Marxist-Leninist economics in the GDR from its beginning to its abrupt end in 1990. Till also compares this system of knowledge with economics before and after the GDR. Additionally, we discuss some methodological approaches, such as Karl Mannheim’s concept of generations and institutional history.
Till is an associate professor at the Department of Economics Sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal.
In this episode, Maria shares a recent interview with Andrew Sartori, an intellectual historian at NYU. Andrew discusses his work in South Asian Intellectual History and how he ended up in this relatively small field when he started. He also talks about how he deals with the international diffusion of ideas. Finally, they debate the need to find a distinct Indian way of thinking and how this perceived need makes it hard to research in this area of study. Check out his publications here.