Hayek's Academic Triumph?


For years, the lefty leanings of the university have riled conservative activists. (This was recently linked on H&R, but be sure to read Jesse Walker v. David Horowitz here.) Now a few left-leaning economists are complaining that their discipline has been colonized by moustache-twisting free marketeers. According to the New York Times, Milton Friedman reigns supreme in econ departments across the country, and the Frankfurt Old Schoolers are being ignored:

For many economists, questioning free-market orthodoxy is akin to expressing a belief in intelligent design at a Darwin convention: Those who doubt the naturally beneficial workings of the market are considered either deluded or crazy.

But in recent months, economists have engaged in an impassioned debate over the way their specialty is taught in universities around the country, and practiced in Washington, questioning the profession's most cherished ideas about not interfering in the economy.

I find this very, very difficult to believe. A bit of meaningless anecdotal evidence: My alma mater's econ department was, one aggrieved professor told me, openly hostile to his pro-market views. And since then, it seems little has changed. According to its website, the department "has a highly distinguished faculty working within several different traditions in economics: Marxian, post-Keynesian, institutionalist, historical, non-Marxian radical political economy, and feminist economics." At UMass, the Hayekian revolution appears to be in its Provisional Government stage.

Economist and blogger Alex Tabarrok is also skeptical:

It beggars belief when economists at Princeton, Harvard and Berkeley claim that they are lone voices in the wilderness boldly striking heterodox positions against the hegemony of "free market economics."

David Card, for example, says "You lose your ticket as a certified economist if you don't say any kind of price regulation is bad and free trade is good." Really? Card and Krueger's famous paper on the minimum wage was a 1993 NBER working paper published in the AER in 1994. What happened then in 1995? Was Card decertified, drummed out of the profession, vilified by his peers? Hardly, in 1995 David Card was honored (deservedly imho) by the American Economic Association with the John Bates Clark medal.

Full post from Marginal Revolution here.