December 2, 2015

One entirely sufficient reason for the shutdown of economics

Comment on ‘Three symptoms of the sorry state of economics’


Terry Burnham resumes “Economics is a lost field. More than 200 years after Adam Smith wrote the Wealth of Nations, economics has no answer to the most important economic questions.” (See intro)

The conclusion is correct but drawn from weird symptoms. The fact that Merton/Scholes have bankrupted LTCM does not tell anything about the state of theoretical economics, just like a plane crash does not tell anything about the state of theoretical physics.

The real and ultimate reason why economics is indeed a lost field is that the profit theory is false since Adam Smith. After more than 200 years economists do not understand the pivotal phenomenon of their subject matter.* And this means that employment theory, distribution theory, growth theory, and all the rest is provable false. Because of this, the representative economist gives false answers to the most important economic questions. No Walrasian, Keynesian, Marxian, or Austrian economic policy advice has a sound theoretical foundation.

“As Joan Robinson said, our essential object in economics is ‘to understand how the economic system works’; ... we know little more now about ‘how the economy works,’ or about the modus operandi of the invisible hand than we knew in 1790, after Adam Smith completed the last revision of The Wealth of Nations.” (Clower, 1999, p. 401)

Economics is a failed science. And there is no hope that those economists who are responsible for the ‘sorry state of economics’ will ever get out of the self-made cul-de-sac (2013).

Economics is a lost field and both orthodox and heterodox economists are lost scientists. As Joan Robinson put it “Scrap the lot and start again.” And — most important — make sure that those Walrasian, Keynesian, Marxian, or Austrian diletantes and know-nothings are left behind the curve for good.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Clower, R. W. (1999). Post-Keynes Monetary and Financial Theory. Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, 21(3): 399–414. URL
Kakarot-Handtke, E. (2013). Confused Confusers: How to Stop Thinking Like an Economist and Start Thinking Like a Scientist. SSRN Working Paper Series, 2207598: 1–16. URL

* See ‘Profit and the collective failure of economists

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