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The Assumptions Economists Make

The Assumptions Economists Make

Jonathan Schlefer

ISBN 9780674975408

Publication date: 05/15/2017

Economists make confident assertions in op-ed columns and on cable news—so why are their explanations often at odds with equally confident assertions from other economists? And why are all economic predictions so rarely borne out? Harnessing his frustration with these contradictions, Jonathan Schlefer set out to investigate how economists arrive at their opinions.

“A lucid, plain-spoken account of the major economic models, which [Schlefer] introduces in chronological order, creating a kind of intellectual history of macroeconomics. He explains what the models assume, what they actually demonstrate—and where they fall short.”
—Binyamin Applebaum, New York Times blog

“Fascinating...[Schlefer’s] book is a tough critique of economics, but a deeply informed and sympathetic one.”
—Justin Fox, Harvard Business Review blog

“This book is an impressive and informative analysis of the economics literature—and it presents some useful insights about how a more eclectic, catholic approach might allow economics to progress more convincingly into the future.”
—Michelle Baddeley, Times Higher Education

The Assumptions Economists make [is] a knowledgeable...broadside against neoclassical economics...Schlefer’s gripes concern model-building run amok...His criticisms of these models are original and sophisticated.”
—Christopher Caldwell, Literary Review


  • Jonathan Schlefer holds a Ph.D. in political science from MIT and is the author of Palace Politics: How the Ruling Party Brought Crisis to Mexico, as well as articles for The Atlantic and other publications. He is currently a research associate at Harvard Business School.

Book Details

  • 384 pages
  • Belknap Press