(OR fulfills US major requirement)
The expansion of the modern economy over the past 200 years is unprecedented and awesome. Liberals, socialists, Marxists, Keynesians, and supply-siders alike recognized this capacity, and together they overturned the Malthusian propositions of old. We began to think in terms of ‘growth’ rather than ‘wealth,’ and ‘income’ rather than ‘assets.’ They provided the toolkits into which we reach when we redress economic crisis and seek sustained improvement. We thought our way out of crisis after 1945 and 1973, after some spectacular failures in the 1930s. Arguably we are failing again today, with much of the industrialized world hovering between recession and tepid growth and enormous inequalities.
The course proposes that this same world of economic thought places limits on our actions, partly because new orthodoxies have made certain options unthinkable, however reasonable they me be; inequality for example is accepted as necessary and even good. Good ideas notwithstanding, we also operate in a world of politics and unequal power, and these must be accounted for in any history of economic thought. Sharp and sharper inequalities exist from household to household, country to country, and continent to continent, and zero-sum competitions between and within national economies are embedded in our policies.
The aim of the course is to make common names of economics familiar and understandable; basic economic concepts intelligible; and all participants critical in their approach to economics. We will study thinkers such as Smith, Mill, Malthus, Marx, Keynes, and Friedman, the ‘greats’ who offered us some foundational approaches to modern eco¬-nomics. We will consider how their thinking made for contrasting approaches to the crises of 1929, 1973, and 2008. We will continue with the context of the EU and the euro, considering how the country and continent have undergone a profound socio-political transformation, enabled and yet constricted by the architecture of the EU and the Eurozone. This part will include the current debate over growth and austerity in the treaties that created the euro. We will end with the latest US policies and the ongoing debate over deficits and government spending.