DS 391 — Keynes, Cowen & Capitalism

The Economics Department once again proudly announces its community read for the term.   The formal title of the course is DS 391 – Keynes, Cowen & Capitalism, and sign up sheets are tacked to my bullitin board.   You can get instructor approval from either Professor Galambos or me (or both!).   We will see about arranging a time.

Here is the reading list:

Roger Backhouse and Brad Bateman’s Capitalist Revolutionary: John Maynard Keynes.

Tyler Cowen The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will(Eventually) Feel Better .

Tyler Cowen “The Inequality that Matters,” from The American Interest online.

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, Race Against the Machine:  How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy.

The Backhouse and Bateman book is a quick read, and Professor Bateman is tentatively scheduled to visit as part of our Senior Experience.   Backhouse and Bateman have promoted their work with pieces in the the New York Times and more recently in The Guardian.

Tyler Cowen’s little ebook also talks about some of the problems and prospects of American capitalism, and should be interesting to set side-by-side with the Keynesian worldview.   As a bonus, the book has been heavily reviewed, and there is certainly no consensus view on whether he is right or wrong.  There have been a couple of recent reviews juxtaposing Cowen with Brynjolfsson and McAfee.  We should be able to do the same.

One of the key issues of capitalism moving forward seems to be the division of the proverbial pie, and Cowen’s piece in The American Interest is one of the more thoughtful pieces on inequality that I have come across.  I especially like the “betting against the Wizards” example of picking up pennies in front of the steamroller.

Once we have our enrollment, I will coordinate a schedule.

Students (and faculty) are required to read and respond thoughtfully.