Books: Inside the Economist's Mind (I.T.E.M.) and Getting It Wrong

This Blog hosts discussion of issues relevant to the book, Inside the Economist's Mind, coedited by Nobel Laureate Paul A. Samuelson and William A. Barnett, published by Wiley/Blackwell, and the newer book by William A. Barnett, Getting It Wrong, published by MIT Press.

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William A. Barnett is Oswald Distinguished Professor of Macroeconomics at the University of Kansas and Director of the Center for Financial Stability in New York City. He was previously Research Economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, DC; Stuart Centennial Professor of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin; and Professor of Economics at Washington University in St. Louis. William Barnett has been a leading researcher in macroeconomics and econometrics. He is one of the pioneers in the study of chaos and nonlinearity in socioeconomic contexts, as well as a major figure in the study of the aggregation problem. He is Editor of the Emerald Press monograph series International Symposia in Economic Theory and Econometrics, and Editor of the journal Macroeconomic Dynamics, published by Cambridge University Press. He received his B.S. degree from M.I.T., his M.B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. He has published 20 books (as either author or editor) and over 140 articles in professional journals. His research has been published in 7 languages.


The book, Inside the Economist's Mind, is coedited by Paul A. Samuelson and William A. Barnett. Although this Blog is hosted solely by the latter coeditor, the following is the information in the book's front matter about Paul Samuelson:

Paul A. Samuelson was the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Economics. He is Professor Emeritus of Economics and Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Professor is the highest rank awarded by MIT. His landmark 1947 book, Foundations of Economic Analysis, based upon his Ph.D. dissertation at Harvard University, established him as "the economists' economist" by raising the standards of the entire profession. Paul Samuelson's classic textbook, Economics, first published in 1948, is among the most successful textbooks ever published in the field. The book's 16 editions have sold over four million copies and have been translated into 41 languages. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Chicago and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. As one of the profession's most productive scholars for over a half-century, he remains an intellectual force of towering stature.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"Book Scores Big"

The Lawrence newspaper is the Lawrence Journal World. On today's blog, there is a short story with title, "KU Economist's Book Scores Big." It contains some useful links to two of the published reviews of the book, along with some rather odd comments by some undergraduate and graduate students.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tax Guru's Amazon Store

The book has appeared as a "Must Read" on the "Tax Guru's Amazon Store." The list seems to be the same as Tom Keene's list, but it is packaged differently, since the links to the books on this list go to different places from the link's in Tom's list.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Valor Review Translated

In the February 9th post below, I mentioned a major review of ITEM in the Brazilian newspaper, Valor Economico. I have now acquired a complete English translation. It is fascinating. In addition to the comments on the book by the editor and five commentators, the article contains South American perspectives on many important matters, such as the recent shifts to the left in South American politics, the reasons for Brazilian disillusionment about flexible exchange rates, discussion of the effects on debtor countries of Volcker's high interest rates, among many other observations and views that are not often heard within the United States. There also are some surprising personal insights into the private family lives of some of MIT's most famous economists.

The translator was Professor Marcelle Chauvet at the University of California at Riverside. She is Brazilian, so this translation can be viewed to be accurate. I am impressed by the investment of Valor in this article. Too bad that there is no English edition of Valor. If there were, and if this review is representative of coverage in Valor, I'd subscribe myself.

Kansas City Star

The Kansas City Star newspaper has a weekly business section on Tuesdays. That section contains a "Noteworthy" subsection. Today's (February 20, 2007) Noteworthy section contains three short articles. One was about ITEM and contained the following sentence: "Even casual students of economics should find much to like in this collection of conversations with several eminent economists of our time."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Monetarism as an Oral Tradition

There is an interesting thread that began yesterday (February 12, 2007) about monetarism in the Economist's View blog, maintained by Mark Thoma at the University of Oregon. The motivation for the posts is the statements about monetarism in my interview of Paul Samuelson. That interview is reprinted in the book, ITEM.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Paul Volcker

Econbrowser is a very popular economics blog maintained by James Hamilton at the U. of California at San Diego and Menzie Chinn at the U. of Wisconsin. On February 11, 2007, they posted a long discussion of revelations contained in the interview of Paul Volcker in ITEM.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Best Review Yet

The leading financial newspaper in Brazil is Valor Economico (which means "Economic Value"). A major cover story about the book just appeared today (February 9, 2007) in that newspaper. It includes original artwork produced by the newspaper and photographs acquired by the newspaper. The article includes a cover story by the newspaper's editor and commentaries by five Brazilian economists. I shall try to acquire an English translation of all six parts to put online, but at present I only have a translation of the editor's cover story. The color photographs alone are worth seeing, even without availability of the full translation. Here is an excerpt from the newspaper editor's cover story:

"In frank conversations, unburdened by the formalizations found in academic papers, 16 eminent American and European economists posit their philosophies, explain theories and methodologies, and offer their personal experiences. The end result is a picture of the profession that is in constant flux ... ITEM, which was recently launched in Europe and the U.S., is already a best seller on the Financial Times list and offers great help ... The book which is edited by William A. Barnett, macroeconomics professor at the University of Kansas, and Paul Samuelson, 1970 Nobel Laureate, is really a map into the minds of 16 American and European important economists, who are well-known for their major contributions to economic study. The book regales us with personal anecdotes of these economists, their memories, choices made, and landmark moments in their careers ... This book is about unfiltered ideas, not in the tradition found in the usual academic avenues of censored personal views in lieu of purely technical models, theories, or insights. Both interviewers and interviewees successfully rally around the book's central focus on the importance of intellectual exchange ... it is useful to learn about the experiences of these economists and what drives them to their pursuit. This book provides a coherent vision of modern economics and its connection with the lifetime experiences of famous economists, whose work was seminal for the discipline ... It's important to know (or remember) that Janos Kornai's defense in Budapest on the eve of the revolution of 1956 attracted an audience of hundreds. When he published it in book form with a title that spoke of the "excess of centralization", he lost his job, and a close friend was executed ... ITEM is a valuable work, and it succeeds in the need to contextualize the advances of the field's theories with a sense of its implicit history."

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Best Seller

The online FT Bookshop, operated by Bertrand Group Limited in the UK, listed ITEM as first on their paperback best seller's list early this week. Perhaps the article last week in the Financial Times had something to do with this. But they ran out of their stock of the book (temporarily, they say).