Neoclassical economists have no clothes

October 22, 2010 | By | Reply More

According to Wikipedia, “Neoclassical economics dominates microeconomics, and together with Keynesian economics forms the neoclassical synthesis, which dominates mainstream economics today.”  At Scientific American, Robert Nadeau argues that neoclassical economists have no clothes.

[[Neoclassical economics] can no longer be regarded as useful even in pragmatic or utilitarian terms because it fails to meet what must now be viewed as a fundamental requirement of any economic theory—the extent to which this theory allows economic activities to be coordinated in environmentally responsible ways on a worldwide scale. Because neoclassical economics does not even acknowledge the costs of environmental problems and the limits to economic growth, it constitutes one of the greatest barriers to combating climate change and other threats to the planet.

What are the false assumptions of this still widely cherished model? Nadeau lists them:

* The market system is a closed circular flow between production and consumption, with no inlets or outlets.
* Natural resources exist in a domain that is separate and distinct from a closed market system, and the economic value of these resources can be determined only by the dynamics that operate within this system.
* The costs of damage to the external natural environment by economic activities must be treated as costs that lie outside the closed market system or as costs that cannot be included in the pricing mechanisms that operate within the system.
* The external resources of nature are largely inexhaustible, and those that are not can be replaced by other resources or by technologies that minimize the use of the exhaustible resources or that rely on other resources.
* There are no biophysical limits to the growth of market systems.

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Category: Economy, global warming, Sustainable Living

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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