Pluralism and Economics 10 Years after the Crisis and 200 Years after Marx’s Birth: An Introduction to the ICAPE Plenary Session

Geoffrey E. Schneider
Bucknell University

COPYRIGHT: American Review of Political Economy; Geoffrey E. Schneider

The 2018 conference of the International Confederation of Associations for Pluralism in Economics (ICAPE) convened at Drexel University in Philadelphia on January 4, 2018. Three eminent heterodox economists, each approaching the field from a different perspective, were invited to give plenary talks reflecting on the state of pluralism and economics 10 years after the crisis. Those economists were William Waller, Julie Nelson and Anwar Shaikh.

William Waller, a Professor of Economics at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, has produced path-breaking research in institutionalist political economy. He was awarded the Veblen-Commons Award in 2015 for outstanding contributions to Institutionalism, and he is the editor of the Journal of Economic Issues.

Julie Nelson, a Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston, is a founding member of the International Association For Feminist Economics and a former Associate Editor of the journal Feminist Economics. She has produced path-breaking work on feminist economics, including the important book Beyond Economic Man (with M. Ferber).

Anwar Shaikh, a Professor of Economics at the New School for Social Research, has produced path-breaking research in classical political economy. His 2016 magnum opus, Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crisis, is one of the most important books in political economy in recent years.

Occurring 10 years after the financial crisis, the timing of the conference allowed for an interesting assessment of the state of modern economics. Indeed, the fact that mainstream economists failed almost completely to predict the 2008 financial crisis but nonetheless made surprisingly few changes in their fundamental approaches to the discipline seems to prove Veblen’s argument that economics is (still) not an evolutionary science.

Meanwhile, pluralist economists have been developing sophisticated ideas aimed at addressing the major problems confronting contemporary society. It is also interesting that the 10 year anniversary of the financial crisis finds us at the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth. Marx, of course, railed against the flaws of the mainstream economics of his day, setting the stage for heterodox attempts to move beyond narrowly conceived mainstream approaches to a richer, historical approach to the discipline.

The charge to the panelists was as follows: Given that it has been 10 years since the Financial Crisis, what is your assessment of the state of mainstream economics and heterodox economics? What strategies do you think pluralistic economists should adopt going forward?

You can see in the following responses that they had much of interest to say on this topic.