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The Prospect editorial: economics—a textbook problem

In this month's issue, Howard Reed says we need to rebuild economics from its very foundations. Plus: the great economic thinkers suggest the next big question for their field

By Tom Clark   May 2018

Is it time for a new approach to the discipline?

“Let those who will write the nation’s laws if I can write its textbooks.” So said the late great economist Paul Samuelson. Having sniffed the influence, he went on to sell over four million textbooks himself. The basic economic concepts that frame vast tracts of public policy—market equilibria, marginal costs and “externalities”—are all encountered in the very first term of an undergraduate course. But the breathtaking charge pressed by Howard Reed is that the textbook is irredeemably flawed,…

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