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The Assumptions Economists Make

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$30.00 • £24.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674975408

Publication Date: 05/15/2017


384 pages

Belknap Press


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, The New York Times blog Economix

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

Schlefer’s lucid and witty account of the evolution of economic thought makes this book an easy and fun read for anyone interested in the subject.—Pramit Bhattacharya, Mint

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

The Assumptions Economists Make is a valuable book for readers who like to argue, reflect, and advance knowledge.—A. R. Sanderson, Choice

Not a history of economic thinkers, this is an examination of their prevailing assumptions, from Adam Smith to the present. Schlefer asserts that macroeconomic models failed to guide government policy before 2008 because economists got their neoclassical theory wrong, and he blames the economic troubles of 2008 and beyond on the instability of private financial markets. He disputes factors such as supply and demand, technology, and unionization as causes of the current recession, noting that many believed the ‘supply of better-educated workers increasing relative to lower-skilled workers would cause their pay premium to fall’ when just the opposite happened.—Joanna B. Conrad, Library Journal

A marvel of clarity and elegance, The Assumptions Economists Make is the best book I’ve read about the ideas and practices of economists. With great respect, curiosity, insight, and wit, Jonathan Schlefer has given readers a sense of how the models and metaphors of economics inform our most important public policy debates. He manages to connect the theories that economists produce—and the assumptions that go along with the theories—to economists’ varied, influential roles in public life as policy makers and public intellectuals.—Rawi Abdelal, Harvard Business School

The Assumptions Economists Make is a marvelous piece of political economy. Jonathan Schlefer ably contrasts the two main approaches to macroeconomics—neoclassical and classical/Keynesian—and on social, historical, and political grounds strongly endorses the latter.—Lance Taylor, author of Maynard’s Revenge: The Collapse of Free Market Macroeconomics

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