Thinking Aloud: “Seven Bad Ideas”

June 10, 2015 by Darius 

The main principles in capitalist economics are all but settled.  Or are they?  I recently read Seven Bad Ideas: How Mainstream Economists Have Damaged America and the World by journalist and economic professor Jeff Madrick.  Madrick takes on so-called economic orthodoxy.

Not surprisingly, Seven Bad Ideas takes on seven conventions of economics, ranging from big concepts, such as the Invisible Hand of the marketplace and economics’s place as a science to more obscure concepts such as Say’s Law (supply automatically creates demand) and the “right” level of inflation in an economy.

Throughout the book, Madrick points to a particular flaw in economic thinking: there is simply little empirical data to back up many claims.  Madrick also does an impressive job of illustrating the human costs of misinformed economic policy and of using economics as a mask for a political agenda.  However, despite the importance of its message, the writing in Seven Bad Ideas comes across as muddled in many places.  Madrick also tends towards telling, rather than showing, the reader various points he wants to get across.

I’ve read many better books on economics, but Seven Bad Ideas nonetheless offers a unique perspective.


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