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Neo-classical economics: A trail of economic destruction since the 1970s


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  • Reinert, Erik S.


This paper argues that the international financial crisis is just the last in a series of economic calamities produced by a type of theory that converted the economics profession from a study of real world phenomena into what in the end became mathematized ideology. While the crises themselves started by halving real wages in many countries in the economic periphery, in Latin America in the late 1970s, their origins are found in economic theory in the 1950s when empirical reality became academically unfashionable. About half way in the destructive path of this theoretical tsunami – from its origins in the world periphery in the 1970s until today’s financial meltdowns – we find the destruction of the productive capacity of the Second World, the former Soviet Union. Now the chickens are coming home to roost: wealth and welfare destruction is increasingly hitting the First World itself: Europe and the United States. This paper argues that it is necessary to see these developments as one continuous process over more than three decades of applying neoclassical economics and neo-liberal economic policies that destroyed, rather than created, real wages and wealth. A reconstruction of widespread welfare will need to be based on the understanding that what unleashed the juggernaut of welfare destruction was not ‘market failure’; it was ‘theory failure’. Being a résumé of a larger research project, the paper includes references to more detailed studies of these processes of ‘destructive destruction’.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 47910.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:47910

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Keywords: Economic theory; neoclassical economics; neoliberal economics; empirical economics; global financial crisis.;

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  1. Reinert, Sophus A., 2011. "Translating Empire: Emulation and the Origins of Political Economy," Economics Books, Harvard University Press, number 9780674061514.
  2. Erik S. Reinert, 2012. "Mechanisms of Financial Crises in Growth and Collapse: Hammurabi, Schumpeter, Perez, and Minsky," The Other Canon Foundation and Tallinn University of Technology Working Papers in Technology Governance and Economic Dynamics 39, TUT Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance.
  3. Erik S. Reinert & Rainer Kattel, 2009. "The Economics of Failed, Failing, and Fragile States: Productive Structure as the Missing Link," The Other Canon Foundation and Tallinn University of Technology Working Papers in Technology Governance and Economic Dynamics 18, TUT Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance.
  4. Arthur F. Burns, 1954. "The Frontiers of Economic Knowledge," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number burn54-1, October.
  5. Arthur F. Burns, 1954. "Foreword to "The Frontiers of Economic Knowledge"," NBER Chapters, in: The Frontiers of Economic Knowledge, pages -2 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Ben Fine & Elisa Van Waeyenberge, 2013. "A Paradigm Shift that Never Will Be?: Justin Lin’s New Structural Economics," Working Papers 179, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK.


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