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The Lost Art of Economics

Essays on Economics and the Economics Profession David Colander, Christian A. Johnson Distinguished Professor of Economics, Middlebury College, Vermont, US
The essays explore the forces in academic institutions that have led economics to its current position, as well as the implications of the lost art for the economics profession and its future. In the end, the author is positive about the future of the profession, and predicts that in 2050 it will no longer be as Solow suggested it currently is – ‘the overeducated in pursuit of the unknowable’. Instead it will be the ‘appropriately educated in search of the knowable’.
Extent: 224 pp
Hardback Price: $134.00 Web: $120.60
Publication Date: 2001
ISBN: 978 1 84064 694 8
Availability: In Stock
Paperback Price: $51.00 Web: $40.80
Publication Date: 2003
ISBN: 978 1 84376 489 2
Availability: In Stock
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Methodology of Economics
Economics is the study of a complex system in which simple laws are not always forthcoming. That complexity mandates three branches of the profession: positive, normative and the art of economics. The economics profession has focused on one of these – positive economics, and in doing so has lost the art of economics. In a series of provocative essays the author argues that most of what economists do is applied policy, which belongs in the art of economics, not in normative or positive economics.

The essays explore the forces in academic institutions that have led economics to its current position, as well as the implications of the lost art for the economics profession and its future. In the end, the author is positive about the future of the profession, and predicts that in 2050 it will no longer be as Solow suggested it currently is – ‘the overeducated in pursuit of the unknowable’. Instead it will be the ‘appropriately educated in search of the knowable’.

The essays are written in a highly accessible style, and can be enjoyed by most non-economists, as well as by those economists who don't take themselves too seriously. It can be usefully read by all economists, even those who do take themselves too seriously.
‘Few students of economics have managed to avoid the question of whether their chosen field qualifies as a true science. In this thought-provoking collection of essays, David Colander addresses this question with well-written, and often entertaining prose.’
– Mary Kokoski, Monthly Labor Review

‘Colander is to be congratulated for persuading us to see things differently, and for linking together the sociology of our profession with a frank appraisal of the artifacts our discipline has produced. This book is a stimulating read. . .’
– Laurence S. Moss, Eastern Economic Journal

‘This book is a must read for serious students of economic thought.’
– Lall B. Ramrattan, EH.Net

‘David Colander is one of those rare economists who, while wholly familiar with the techniques employed by economists, finds them wanting in realism and imagination. At the same time, he does not rest content with dismissal, but suggests constructive alternatives. His kind of methodological concern with meta-economic problems is, I believe, necessary and healthy, particularly if done in the attractive style that is so characteristic of him. Colander's work displays not only a high level of technical skill but also imagination and creativeness, the contribution of the artist. His knowledge of history and economic thought further enriches his work. The book is a gem.’
– Paul Streeten, Boston University, US, Balliol College, Oxford and University of Sussex, UK

‘A set of lucid and thought-provoking essays on important but often neglected topics. It deserves a wide readership.’
– Thomas Mayer, University of California, Davis, US

‘David Colander is an economist watcher. He has much of wisdom to say about how graduate economist training in the top University departments has gone badly off the rails. They don’t teach their students how to apply economics sensibly, transforming them into model-driven, number-crunching individuals. This book contains a set of very serious essays, and is not just a jeremiad. Three cheers.’
– W.Max Corden, Johns Hopkins University, US
Contents: Preface Introduction Part I: How the Art of Economics was Lost 1. The Lost Art of Economics 2. Is Milton Friedman an Artist or a Scientist? Part II: Methodology of the Art of Economics 3. The Art of Economics by the Numbers 4. The Art of Monetary Policy Part III: Textbooks and the Art of Economics 5. Telling Better Stories in Introductory Macro 6. Teaching Keynes in the 21st Century Part IV: Doing Art in the Current Institutional Setting 7. Confessions of an Economic Gadfly 8. Surviving as a Slightly Out of Sync Economist Part V: Implications of the Lost Art of Economics for the Profession 9. Vision, Judgement, and Disagreement among Economics 10. The Sound of Silence: The Profession’s Response to the COGEE Report Part VI: The Future of the Economic Profession 11. The Death of NeoClassical Economics 12. New Millennium Economics in 2050: How Did It Get This Way, and What Way is It? Bibliography Index