Who Needs the History of Thought?

Brad DeLong urges change:

We need fewer equilibrium business-cycle theorists and more old-fashioned Keynesians and monetarists. We need more monetary historians and historians of economic thought and fewer model-builders.

Stephen Williamson responds:

Seriously, DeLong and Summers need to use some basic economics to organize their thinking before attempting to instruct the world in what should be taught to Economics PhD students. Successful departments teach what the marketplace wants. It seems to me that the markets in Old Keynesians, Old Monetarists, monetary historians and, particularly, historians of economic thought, are pretty thin these days. A department filled with people like that would ultimately be unsuccessful, and be shut down like the old Economics Department at Notre Dame.

Of course, Brad DeLong didn’t say that we need departments full of people doing nothing but the history of thought. Nonetheless, I am puzzled at the ridicule that Williamson places on the history of thought and monetary history. For example, it could easily be argued that monetary economics benefited greatly from the contribution of Friedman and Schwartz. In addition, David Laidler has an excellent paper that documents the usefulness of the history of thought (and its absence from modern macro).

One response to “Who Needs the History of Thought?

  1. Pingback: Developing a era of savers might help protect your grandchildren against another economic crisis. Once the economy was growing fast, banks were prepared to give money and credit cards were simple to obtain. This led people to believe that they could get s

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