Dead Empires: How China May Overtake the U.S.

“The earth is the tomb of dead empires, no less than of dead men.” Thus wrote the American economist and journalist Henry George in his 1879 worldwide bestseller, Progress and Poverty. Adam Smith had identified cooperation and specialization—“the division of labor”—as the forces that generated economic growth and prosperity. George claimed that those same forces led eventually to collapse, as monopolization of land and other natural resources directed more and more wealth into ever fewer hands. Two astute observers have recently offered complementary predictions of the imminent demise of the American empire, and its replacement by China. . . . → Read More: Dead Empires: How China May Overtake the U.S.

Piketty’s Model of Inequality and Growth in Historical Context, Pt 1

In Thomas Piketty’s doomsday model, slowing of growth in the twenty-first century will cause an inexorable increase in inequality. Piketty is not the first to propose a grand model of inequality and growth. To get some perspective on his model, let’s see what the “classical” economists had to say (Part I), and how the “neoclassical” economists responded (Part II). . . . → Read More: Piketty’s Model of Inequality and Growth in Historical Context, Pt 1

It Takes Government to Create Markets: Alex Marshall’s The Surprising Design of Market Economies

Conventional economics wittingly or unwittingly provides cover for the One Percent, by professing that “the market” operates benevolently on its own. Alex Marshall gives us an entertaining, thoughtful, and well-written antidote to this dangerous abstraction. . . . → Read More: It Takes Government to Create Markets: Alex Marshall’s The Surprising Design of Market Economies

It Takes Government to Create Markets: Alex Marshall’s The Surprising Design of Market Economies

Conventional economics wittingly or unwittingly provides cover for the One Percent, by professing that “the market” operates benevolently on its own. Alex Marshall gives us an entertaining, thoughtful, and well-written antidote to this dangerous abstraction. . . . → Read More: It Takes Government to Create Markets: Alex Marshall’s The Surprising Design of Market Economies

Where Did The Wealth of Nations Come From?

Adam Smith (1723-1790) published The Wealth of Nations in 1776, also the year of the American Revolution. Both the Wealth of Nations and the Declaration of Independence sprang from a context, the so-called “Enlightenment.”

The Enlightenment in turn has a history, traced in the lectures of Alan Charles Kors, on “The Birth of the Modern . . . → Read More: Where Did The Wealth of Nations Come From?

Economan Captures the Knowledge Economy: David Warsh on Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations

David Warsh’s engaging new book Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations tells two stories. One story, beginning with Adam Smith, covers the history of thought about the relationship of economic growth and economies of scale. Warsh finds in Smith a contradiction between the huge technical economies of the pin factory, which should create monopolies, and . . . → Read More: Economan Captures the Knowledge Economy: David Warsh on Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations

Wealth of Nations, Wolf on Jacobs, Krugman on Warsh

Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, calls Jane Jacobs, who died last week, “a self-educated intellectual of astonishing originality.” He devotes most of his article, “National wealth on city life’s coat tails” (5/2/06) to a review of one of his and my favorite books, Jacob’s 1984 Cities and the Wealth of Nations — which he . . . → Read More: Wealth of Nations, Wolf on Jacobs, Krugman on Warsh