Pluralism in Economics

Date: 12 December 2013

Venue: University of Antwerp, Stadscampus, Aula M.001 - Sint-Jacobstraat 2 - 2000 Antwerp

Time: 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Organization / co-organization: UCSIA in cooperation with IOB

Short description: Master Class UCSIA-Teaching Chair by Prof. Ha-Joon Chang.

Pluralism in Economics: Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom and Cross-Fertilize

The University Centre Saint-Ignatius Antwerp invites the Korean-British de Koreaans-Britse Ha-Joon Chang to hold the UCSIA-Teaching Chair at the University of Antwerp in 2013.

Prof. Ha-Joon Chang
Prof. Ha-Joon Chang makes a scholarly and a broad audience critically reflect on established views on the economy and economic policy. He became known in Belgium for his book Things They Didn't Tell You about Capitalism. Chang was born and grew up in Korea during the sixties, which gave him a good eye for the role a government can play in a market economy with companies such as LG. In 1992, he received his doctor's degree from the University of Cambridge where he teaches political economy. Ha-Joon Chang researches economic growth and industrial development. He was a counselor of United Nations - organizations including UNDESA, UNDP, ILO en UNCTAD and of multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, The Asian Development bank and the European Investment Bank. He was also a consultant to multinational companies and NGO's among others ActionAid, Christian Aid en Oxfam International.Ha-Joon Chang's research was rewarded with prizes including the Gunnar Myrdal Prize, the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought and the Pony Chung Innovation Prize. His books have been translated into many languages and published worldwide, including: Economics: The User Guide (Penguin, forthcoming 2013), 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism (Allen Lane, 2010)<br>Bad Samaritans – Rich Nations, Poor Policies, and the Threat to the Developing World (Random House, 2007).Reclaiming Development – An Alternative Economic Policy Manual (Zed Press, 2004). Kicking Away the Ladder. Development Strategy in Historical Perspective (Anthem Press, 2002).

Book Economics
This class is a preview of chapter 4 of dr. Ha-Joon Chang’s book Economics: The User’s Guide, which will be published by December 2013.
Popular books such as Freakonomics reduce economics to one of its methodologies (rational choice) and then explain 'life, the universe and (almost) everything' using this theoretical approach. Ha-Joon Chang believes that economics should rather be defined as the study of the economy: anything that can happen with money, jobs, transfers, production and consumption of goods and services. Economics should explain economic phenomena such as the financial crisis of 2008, combining different approaches.

'Rational choice' is just one methodology used by only one school of economics: neoclassical economics. Ha-Joon Chang describes the strengths and weaknesses of no less than nine schools and traditions of economics: Austrian, behavioralist, classical, developmentalist, institutionalist, Keynesian, Marxist, neoclassical, Schumpeterian. He pleads for pluralism in economics: combining different approaches of economics will contribute to a fuller and more balanced understanding of the complex entity called the economy. But pluralism is more than “peaceful coexistence” between different schools of thought and traditions. They should mutually enrich each other and create offspring such as “behavioral finance”, the recent result of cross-fertilization between Keynesianism and Behavioralism.

This analysis is not only relevant for (future) professional economists: behind every economic policy and collective action that affects our lives lies some economic theory that has inspired it … or that only serves to justify it. Knowing different types of economics and their strengths and flaws leaves less room for TINA: “There is no alternative”, as Margaret Thatcher once put in defense of her unpopular policies.