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- Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author
A - F
- Economists teach that the market is the fundamental social phenomenon, and its culmination is money. Anthropologists teach that culture is the fundamental social phenomenon, and its culmination is the sacred. Such is the confrontation—man the producer of consumption goods vs. man the producer of culture, the maximizing animal vs. the reverent one.
- Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: 1988), pp. 361-363
- Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.
- Kenneth Boulding, "The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth" (1966), in Victor D. Lippit, ed., Radical Political Economy, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. p 362.
- If economists wished to study the horse, they wouldn't go and look at horses. They'd sit in their studies and say to themselves, "What would I do if I were a horse?"
G - L
- I am a capitalist, and after a 30-year career in capitalism... I'm not just in the top one percent, I'm in the top .01 percent of all earners. Today, I have come to share the secrets of our success, because rich capitalists like me have never been richer... How do we manage to grab an ever-increasing share of the economic pie every year? ... here's the dirty secret. There was a time in which the economics profession worked in the public interest, but in the neoliberal era, today, they work only for big corporations and billionaires... We could choose to enact economic policies that raise taxes on the rich, regulate powerful corporations or raise wages for workers... But neoliberal economists would warn that all of these policies would be a terrible mistake, because raising taxes always kills economic growth, and any form of government regulation is inefficient, and raising wages always kills jobs.
Well, as a consequence of that thinking, over the last 30 years, in the USA alone, the top one percent has grown 21 trillion dollars richer while the bottom 50 percent have grown 900 billion dollars poorer, a pattern of widening inequality that has largely repeated itself across the world. And yet, as middle class families struggle to get by on wages that have not budged in about 40 years, neoliberal economists continue to warn that the only reasonable response to the painful dislocations of austerity and globalization is even more austerity and globalization.
- The old economics is correct, of course, that competition plays a crucial role in how markets work, but what it fails to see is that it is largely a competition between highly cooperative groups -- competition between firms, competition between networks of firms, competition between nations -- and anyone who has ever run a successful business knows that building a cooperative team by including the talents of everyone is almost always a better strategy than just a bunch of selfish jerks. So how do we leave neoliberalism behind and build a more sustainable, more prosperous and more equitable society?
The new economics suggests just five rules of thumb. First is that successful economies are not jungles, they're gardens, which is to say that markets, like gardens, must be tended, that the market is the greatest social technology ever invented for solving human problems, but unconstrained by social norms or democratic regulation, markets inevitably create more problems than they solve. Climate change, the great financial crisis of 2008 are two easy examples.
- Inclusion creates economic growth. So the neoliberal idea that inclusion is this fancy luxury to be afforded if and when we have growth is both wrong and backwards. The economy is people. Including more people in more ways is what causes economic growth in market economies...The third principle is the purpose of the corporation is not merely to enrich shareholders. The greatest grift in contemporary economic life is the neoliberal idea that the only purpose of the corporation and the only responsibility of executives is to enrich themselves and shareholders. The new economics must and can insist that the purpose of the corporation is to improve the welfare of all stakeholders: customers, workers, community and shareholders alike.
*Greed is not good. Being rapacious doesn't make you a capitalist, it makes you a sociopath. And in an economy as dependent upon cooperation at scale as ours, sociopathy is as bad for business as it is for society.... Neoliberal economic theory has sold itself to you as unchangeable natural law, when in fact it's social norms and constructed narratives based on pseudoscience. If we truly want a more equitable, more prosperous and more sustainable economy, if we want high-functioning democracies and civil society, we must have a new economics.
- You cannot successfully use your technical knowledge unless you are a fairly educated person, and, in particular, have some knowledge of the whole field of the social sciences as well as some knowledge of history and philosophy. Of course real competence in some particular field comes first. Unless you really know your economics or whatever your special field is, you will be simply a fraud. But if you know economics and nothing else, you will be a bane to mankind, good, perhaps, for writing articles for other economists to read, but for nothing else.
- Friedrich Hayek (1991). "On being an economist." In: W. W. Bartley and S. Kresge (eds.), The Trend of Economic Thinking; Essays on Political Economists and Economic History, Volume III, London. Routledge. p. 38
- It is often sadly remarked that the bad economists present their errors to the public better than the good economists present their truths. It is often complained that demagogues can be more plausible in putting forward economic nonsense from the platform than the honest men who try to show what is wrong with it. But the basic reason for this ought not to be mysterious. The reason is that the demagogues and bad economists are presenting half-truths. They are speaking only of the immediate effect of a proposed policy or its effect upon a single group. As far as they go they may often be right. In these cases the answer consists in showing that the proposed policy would also have longer and less desirable effects, or that it could benefit one group only at the expense of all other groups. The answer consists in supplementing and correcting the half-truth with the other half. But to consider all the chief effects of a proposed course on everybody often requires a long, complicated, and dull chain of reasoning. Most of the audience finds this chain of reasoning difficult to follow and soon becomes bored and inattentive. The bad economists rationalize this intellectual debility and laziness by assuring the audience that it need not even attempt to follow the reasoning or judge it on its merits because it is only “classicism” or “laissez-faire,” or “capitalist apologetics” or whatever other term of abuse may happen to strike them as effective.
- Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson (1946), Ch. 1. The Lesson
- The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.
- John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Ch. 24 "Concluding Notes" p. 383-
M - R
- Economics is the study of how society manages its scarce resources. In most societies, resources are allocated not by an all-powerful dictator but through the combined actions of millions of households and firms. Economists therefore study how people make decisions: how much they work, what they buy, how much they save, and how they invest their savings. Economists also study how people interact with one another. For instance, they examine how the multitude of buyers and sellers of a good together determine the price at which the good is sold and the quantity that is sold. Finally, economists analyze forces and trends that affect the economy as a whole, including the growth in average income, the fraction of the population that cannot find work, and the rate at which prices are rising.
- N. Gregory Mankiw, Principle of Economics (6th ed., 2012), Ch. 1. Ten Principles of Economics
- In bourgeois economics - and in the epoch of production to which it corresponds — this complete working-out of the human content appears as a complete emptying- out, this universal objectification as total alienation, and the tearing-down of all limited, one-sided aims as sacrifice of the human end-in-itself to an entirely external end.
- Karl Marx, Historical Materialism, in Karl Marx: A Reader, p. 200
- Economists are tellers of stories and makers of poems.
- Donald McClouskey, Storytelling in Economics (1990).
- The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.
- Joan Robinson, “Marx, Marshall And Keynes” (1955), Occasional Paper No. 9, The Delhi School of Economics, University Of Delhi, Delhi.
S - Z
- Economics is not simply a topic on which to express opinions or vent emotions. It is a systematic study of what happens when you do specific things in specific ways. In economic analysis, the methods used by a Marxist economist like Oskar Lange did not differ in any fundamental way from the methods used by a conservative economist like Milton Friedman.
- Thomas Sowell, Ch. 1 What is Economics? in Basic Economics
- This is really odd that economists are expected to predict the future, because no on expect other people in other disciplines to predict the future. Nobody says to the biologists: What is the next stage in evolution? If you can't expect the next stage in evolution... well I guess biology just isn't a science and, that no one should listen to you. Nobody says to the political scientist: Well... you know, who is going to win the next election? If you can't tell me now, then I guess, you know, political science does not mean anything. But somehow economics takes this burden, that people in economics are supposed to be able to forecast the future.
- Timothy Taylor, in Economics, 3rd Edition (The Great Courses) (2008), Chapter 1: "How Economists Think."
- Economists are being indoctrinated into a cardboard version of human nature, which they hold true to such a degree that their own behavior has begun to resemble it. Psychological tests have shown that economics majors are more egoistic than the average college student. Exposure in class after class to the capitalist self-interest model apparently kills off whatever prosocial tendencies these students have to begin with. They give up trusting others, and conversely others give up trusting them.
- Frans de Waal, Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are (2006), p. 243.
- Too many people have taken the incels’ explanation of their own virulent misogyny at face value, and repeated the comfortable line that these men stand apart from all others. Along with influential columnists, even economists have endorsed the idea of “sexual marketplace”, wherein women are figured as a commodity, and some men have inadequate buying power to procure. (Most have been too polite to mention many incels’ accompanying belief that the world, and women, are so corrupted that sex is beneath them.)
- Jason Wilson, "What do incels, fascists and terrorists have in common? Violent misogyny", The Guardian, (4, May 2018).
- Bernard: I don't think Sir Humphrey understands economics, Prime Minister; he did read Classics, you know.
Jim Hacker: What about Sir Frank? He's head of the Treasury!
Bernard: Well I'm afraid he's at an even greater disadvantage in understanding economics: he's an economist.
- Yes, Prime Minister series 1, "A Real Partnership".