This essay provides introductions to five of the major topics to do with the history of the theory of production and the theory of the firm. The first chapter is an introduction. The second considers the change from a normative approach to the theory of production to a largely positive approach. Before, roughly, the 17th century the main approaches to the theory of production were normative. The third looks at the relationship (or the lack of a relationship) between the division of labour and the theory of the firm. Even today the mainstream of economics does not emphasise the division of labour in the theory of the firm. In the fourth chapter, the development of the proto-neoclassical approach to production is examined. The development of theories of monopoly, oligopoly and perfect competition as well as the theory of input utilisation are discussed. The fifth chapter looks at Marshall’s idea of the representative firm. This was the main early neoclassical approach to the theory of industry-level production. Marshal wished to be able to construct an industry supply curve without having to assume all firms were identical. The sixth examines the challenges to the neoclassical model in the period 1940-1970. The last chapter is a short conclusion.
Wednesday, 22 April 2020
Introductory essays on aspects of the history of the theory of production and the theory of the firm
Sunday, 19 April 2020
When The New York Times launched its 1619 Project last year, it sought to "reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative." What began as a series of articles in the Times magazine morphed into a collection of lesson plans for K-12 students and provoked an immediate controversy.
Five of the nation's most eminent academic historians co-signed a letter to the Times describing the project as "partly misleading" and containing "factual errors." And Northwestern University Professor Leslie M. Harris revealed that she had been a fact-checker on the series and that her warnings of a major error of interpretation had been ignored. But Harris also took "detractors of the 1619 Project" to task for "misrepresent[ing] both the historical record and the historical profession," writing that the "attacks from its critics are much more dangerous" than the Times' "avoidable mistakes."
Enter Phillip W. Magness, an economic historian, a research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, and the author of a new collection of essays on the project. Magness praises aspects of the series but he says that the project's editor, Nikole Hannah-Jones, is guilty of blurring lines between serious scholarship and partisan advocacy. And he has called for the retraction of an essay in the series by Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond, which was headlined, "In order to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation."
Nick Gillespie spoke with Magness from his office in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, about what the Times gets right and wrong about U.S. history, capitalism and slavery, Abraham Lincoln's contested legacy, and why our interpretation of American history matters to contemporary society.
Saturday, 18 April 2020
From NPR's Planet Money comes this podcast on Lives Vs. the Economy. Hosts Sarah Gonzalez and Kenny Malone interview Betsey Stevenson and W. Kip Viscusi on how we value a life.
A question we've been hearing lately: "Is it worth it to shut down the economy to save lives?" Or "Should we let people die to save the economy?" The only way to answer this question is to figure out what a human life is worth ... in dollars. This happens all the time. In fact, U.S. government federal agencies have a very specific answer. They say a human life is worth about $10 million.
Today on the show, how economists came up with that number, why that number needs to exist, and an answer to the question: Is it worth it to restart the economy right now? (No. The answer is No.)
Friday, 17 April 2020
This week on The #GSPodcast Stephen Knight talks to Kristian Niemietz (@k_niemietz). Kristian is Head of Political Economy at IEA London and the author of ‘Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies’. They talk about: Classical Liberalism, defining ‘socialism’, Communism v Socialism, the ‘Nordic model’, food banks and more.
Sunday, 12 April 2020
The second draft of a chapter which looks at attacks made on the neoclassical theory of production in the period 1940-1970
Tuesday, 7 April 2020
From the Capitalisn't podcast comes this episode on the cost-benefit analysis of the coronavirus crisis in which Luigi Zinglas and Kate Waldock interview Russ Roberts. Roberts comes in around the 15-minute mark.
One of the prominent economic debates to emerge during the coronavirus outbreak has been whether to continue with shelter in place measures that are hurting the economy but, hopefully, slowing the virus' spread. On this episode, Luigi does a cost-benefit analysis that shows why it could be better to keep the economy closed, and debates his proposal with Russ Roberts, host of the popular EconTalk podcast.
Saturday, 28 March 2020
Thanks to a comment from Michael Reddell my attention has been drawn to the discussion of Socal Credit that appears in the report of the New Zealand Royal Commission on Monetary, Banking, and Credit Systems. This report was published in 1956.