Economists and the Economy: The Evolution of Economic Ideas

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Transaction Publishers, 1994 - Business & Economics - 260 pages
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Economists and the Economy combines economic history and a history of economics. The work covers both major historical events, such as the English Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, and the Great Depression, and intellectual developments in economic thought. Among the theories examined are neoclassical growth theory, the Harrod-Domar model, the Cambridge capital controversy, and statistical research. Backhouse seeks to explain how economic theories are formed in response to specific incidents affecting economic events. Backhouse claims that although advances in economic theory have been very important in helping economists to understand the world better, excessive prestige has been attached to work on economic theory. By telling the story in terms of attempts to tackle real-world problems, such as inflation, privatization, and deregulation, this book presents a dramatic new perspective on the history of economic thought, showing that it is not necessary to give pride of place to theories of value and distribution. Economics and the Economy was originally published in 1988. For this second edition, the author has added a new introduction and has substantially revised and updated other chapters. While it will be especially helpful to students of economics, Economics and the Economy is written in such a way that it will be accessible to readers with only a limited background in economics. Historians, economists, and scholars interested in the history of ideas will all find this work to be an important resource. According to David Colander of Middlebury College, "Economics and the Economy is a nice blend of history of economic thought and economic history...Backhouse organizes the presentation by topic, tying the developments in economic ideas with the historical happenings in the economy." Adrian Darnell of the University of Durham, in praise of this book, notes that "this most readable, enjoyable and informative book is, perhaps, Roger Backhouse's most ambitious project to date."

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Economics and Its Past
Growth and Development
The Regulation of Trade and Industry
Money and Inflation
Employment and Economic Fluctuations
The Theory of a Market Economy
The Discipline of Economics
A Note on the Literature

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Page 13 - I had a growing feeling in the later years of my work at the subject that a good mathematical theorem dealing with economic hypotheses was very unlikely to be good economics: and I went more and more on the rules — (1) Use mathematics as a shorthand language, rather than as an engine of inquiry. (2) Keep to them till you have done. (3) Translate into English. (4) Then illustrate by examples that are important in real life. (5) Burn the mathematics. (6) If you can't succeed in 4, burn 3. This last...

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