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How Economics Should Be Done

Essays on the Art and Craft of Economics David C. Colander, Distinguished College Professor, Middlebury College, US and Huei-chun Su, Institute for New Economic Thinking, University of Oxford, UK
David Colander has been writing about economic methodology for over 30 years, but he goes out of his way to emphasize that he does not see himself as a methodologist. His pragmatic methodology is applicable to what economists are doing and attempts to answer questions that all economists face as they go about their work. The articles collected in this volume are divided, with the first part providing a framework underlying Colander’s methodology and introducing Colander’s methodology for economic policy within that framework. Part two presents Colander’s view on the methodology for microeconomics, while part three looks at Colander’s methodology for macroeconomics. The book closes with discussions of broader issues.
Extent: c 296 pp
Hardback Price: $135.00 Web: $121.50
Publication Date: January 2018
ISBN: 978 1 78643 589 7
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David Colander has been writing about economic methodology for over 30 years. His pragmatic approach sees applied policy methodology as rooted in what economists actually do, not in what methodologists say they should do. It sees applied policy methodology as constantly evolving as analytic and computational technology changes, evolving far too fast to be subject to any rigid scientific methodology.

That problem is that economists generally think of applied policy analysis as applied science. Colander argues that using a scientific methodology to guide applied policy undermines good policy analysis. Instead, he contends that economists should use a much looser engineering methodology that blends science, heuristics, inescapable moral judgments, and creativity into what he calls the art and craft of economics. Here, Huei-chun Su has selected seventeen of Colander’s articles that spell out and capture his arguments at various levels – some formal academic articles dealing with cutting edge methodology, and some more popular articles making the case for his approach. An original introduction and annotated bibliography serve as excellent resources for further exploring his arguments.

Clear, well-structured, and written in plain English with little jargon, the book is approachable and suitable for anyone interested in the current and future state of economics and the economics profession. This includes students at any level as well as methodologists, applied economists, historians and critics of modern economics.

Contents: Introduction Part I Methodological Framework and Methodology For Economic Policy As Art 1. Why Economists Aren’t as Important as Garbagemen 2. Vision, Judgment, and Disagreement among Economists 3. The Lost Art of Economics 4. The Systemic Failure of Economic Methodologists 5. The Death of Neoclassical Economics Part II Methodology for Microeconomics 6. Applied Policy, Welfare Economics and Mill’s Half-truths 7. A Failure to Communicate: The Fact-Value Divide and the Putnam-Dasgupta Debate 8. Framing the Economic Policy Debate 9. Complexity economics and workaday economic policy Part III Methodology For Macroeconomics 10. The Macrofoundations of Micro 11. Post Walrasian Macro Policy and the Economics of Muddling Through 12. How Economists Got It Wrong: A Nuanced Account 13. Economists, Incentives, Judgment, and the European CVAR Approach to Macroeconometrics 14. Beyond DSGE Models: Toward an Empirically Based Macroeconomics Part IV Pragmatic Methods For Doing Economics As A Profession 15. How Economists Failed Society 16. Moving Beyond the Rhetoric of Pluralism: Suggestions for an “Inside-the-Mainstream” Heterodoxy 17. Creating Humble Economists: A Code of Ethics for Economists Part V An Annotated Bibliography of Colander’s Methodological Work 1. Annotated Bibliography 2. List of Book Reviews Index