Steven Medema explores what has been perhaps the central controversy in modern economics from Smith to today. He traces the theory of market failure from the 1840s through the 1950s and subsequent attacks on this view by the Chicago and Virginia schools. Medema follows the debate from John Stuart Mill through the Cambridge welfare tradition of Henry Sidgwick, Alfred Marshall, and A. C. Pigou, and looks at Ronald Coase's challenge to the Cambridge approach and the rise of critiques affirming Smith's doctrine anew. He shows how, following the marginal revolution, neoclassical economists, like the preclassical theorists before Smith, believed government can mitigate the adverse consequences of self-interested behavior, yet how the backlash against this view, led by the Chicago and Virginia schools, demonstrated that self-interest can also impact government, leaving society with a choice among imperfect alternatives.
The Hesitant Hand demonstrates how government's economic role continues to be bound up in questions about the effects of self-interest on the greater good.
Nobel laureate Richard H. Thaler has spent his career studying the radical notion that the central agents in the economy are humans—predictable, error-prone individuals. Misbehaving is his arresting, frequently hilarious account of the struggle to bring an academic discipline back down to earth—and change the way we think about economics, ourselves, and our world.
Traditional economics assumes rational actors. Early in his research, Thaler realized these Spock-like automatons were nothing like real people. Whether buying a clock radio, selling basketball tickets, or applying for a mortgage, we all succumb to biases and make decisions that deviate from the standards of rationality assumed by economists. In other words, we misbehave. More importantly, our misbehavior has serious consequences. Dismissed at first by economists as an amusing sideshow, the study of human miscalculations and their effects on markets now drives efforts to make better decisions in our lives, our businesses, and our governments.
Coupling recent discoveries in human psychology with a practical understanding of incentives and market behavior, Thaler enlightens readers about how to make smarter decisions in an increasingly mystifying world. He reveals how behavioral economic analysis opens up new ways to look at everything from household finance to assigning faculty offices in a new building, to TV game shows, the NFL draft, and businesses like Uber.
Laced with antic stories of Thaler’s spirited battles with the bastions of traditional economic thinking, Misbehaving is a singular look into profound human foibles. When economics meets psychology, the implications for individuals, managers, and policy makers are both profound and entertaining.
Shortlisted for the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award
This collection of readings covers the major themes that have preoccupied economic thinkers throughout the ages, including price determination and the underpinnings of the market system, monetary theory and policy, international trade and finance, income distribution, and the appropriate role for government within the economic system. These ideas unfold, develop, and change course over time at the hands of scholars such as Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, François Quesnay, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Robert Malthus, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, William Stanley Jevons, Alfred Marshall, Irving Fisher, Thorstein Veblen, John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, and Paul Samuelson. Each reading has been selected with a view to both enlightening the reader as to the major contributions of the author in question and to giving the reader a broad view of the development of economic thought and analysis over time.
This book will be useful for students, scholars, and lay people with an interest in the history of economic thought and the history of ideas generally.
This work is designed to give the reader a sense of the breadth and possibilities of economics. The essays, all published here for the first time, investigate issues such as:The institutional structures that shape economic activity and performance. The variety of approaches to economic analysis. The importance of the history of the discipline both inherently and for the study of economics in the modern age.
With essays from leading scholars, collected and introduced by some of the most eminent authorities in the field, the work is a formidable volume, and one fit to honor one of the most renowned economists of our age.