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Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian Paperback – 18 Sep 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press (18 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262517833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262517836
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 257,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"Clear, comprehensive, and brimming with provocative insights, this new book by Richard Wolff and Stephen Resnick's book is a much-needed presentation of the three theories -- neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxist -- that make up the contested terrain of contemporary economics. There is simply no other text that brings together the material assembled here. Throughout, the authors are sensitive to the causes and consequences of theoretical differences and demonstrate -- to teachers and students of economics, and to everyone else who wants to learn about economic debates in the world today -- that economic theories really do matter."--David F. Ruccio, Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame "At a time when the world is in an economic tailspin, confusion over the 'dismal science' has never been more pronounced. By carefully describing neo-classical microeconomics and Keynesian macro-economics, and by juxtaposing both to Marxian economic theory, Richard Wolff and Stephen Resnick provide an essential guide for building a more just future."--David Fasenfest, Wayne State University; editor, Critical Sociology "Richard Wolff and Stephen Resnick treat their readers as adults who can, and in fact must, choose among theories, rather than as children who need to be spoon-fed the truth. Their clear and creative presentation of the different entry points, logics and conclusions of neoclassical, Keynesian and Marxian theories makes this by far the best comparative treatment of economics available today. Readers will have a grasp of the history of these theories as well as the latest developments in them, and will see how theories change in mutual interaction with changes in the economy. Which theory we choose to follow matters profoundly. Contending Economic Theories gives students the tools to choose for themselves. " --Richard McIntyre, University Honors Program Director, Professor of Economics, University of Rhode Island

About the Author

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School, New York. Stephen A. Resnick is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Wolff and Resnick are the authors of Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical.

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Not compatible with kindle - give me my money back!
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Format: Paperback
A good introduction to contending economic theories.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Economic theories, politics, and quality of life 16 Sept. 2012
By Hans G. Despain - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Wolff and Resnick are well known and widely acclaimed for their 1987 book "Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical" Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical published by John Hopkins University Press. The current book under review, "Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian" published by MIT Press, is an extension of their previous book. The importance of "Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical" was that it offered an impressive introduction and intermediate level presentation to both neoclassical microeconomics and Marxian economics. To this day chapter 3 of "Economics: Marxian and Neoclassical" and chapter 4 of "Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian" are among the best introductory/intermediate presentations of Marxian economics. (Other competitors include Ernest Mandel's two volume book, "Marx's Economic Theory" Marx Economic Theory, Paul Sweezy's The Theory of Capitalist Development The Theory of Capitalist Development: Principles of Marxian Political Economy, John Weeks' "Capital and Exploitation" Capital, Exploitation and Economic Crisis (Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy), Meghnad Desai's "Marxian Economics" Marxian Economics (Littlefield, Adams quality paperback), and David Harvey's "A Companion to Marx's Capital" A Companion to Marx's Capital; all of these books are far lengthier than Wolff and Resnick, while the latter loses no depth or rigor to their far briefer introduction).

This book is worth its purchase for chapter 4 alone, but if you already own their 1987 book, you already have this chapter in that book.

The primary weakness of the 1987 book is that the presentation of Keynesian economics was not presented at the same level of depth and rigor as was neoclassical microeconomics and Marxian economics. Unfortunately, "Contending Economic Theories" does not mend the weakness. Instead, Wolff and Resnick have merely separated the sections already available in Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical" and given these sections their own chapter heading. There is a brief and new elaboration on "Post-Keynesianism" but this section is rather obtuse and shallow. Thus, although it appears there are three new chapters, really there are two.

The two new chapters do hit their marks. Wolff and Resnick add a chapter (chapter 5) on "late neoclassical economics" co-authored with Yahya M. Madra. The chapter introduces and discusses various developments in neoclassical microeconomics including recent developments in externalities, imperfect competition (i.e. big business), transaction costs, asymmetric information, bounded rationality, behavioral economics, game theory, and evolutionary game theory. This chapter is brief, but has significant depth and breadth of recent developments in neoclassical microeconomics.

Wolff and Resnick also add a chapter on oscillations, instability, and intervention pitched in the context of three competing economic theories (neoclassical, Keynesian, Marxian). This chapter is interesting and very useful. It clearly demonstrates the symbiotic relationship between real economic oscillations and economic theory. It argues that theoretical commitments have very real consequences to the incidence of economic crisis, the political reaction to oscillations/crises, and the quality of human beings lives for those individuals enduring class relations and economic crisis.

In the end, this book will continue to be celebrated for the strengths already available in "Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical." The chapters on "late neoclassical economics" and "Oscillations" will be welcomed and appreciated. But Wolff and Resnick have missed an opportunity to deepen their comparison to Keynesianism. Moreover, there have been some important developments in Post-Keynesianism, Neo-Keynesianism, and New Keynesian economics which could have been elaborated that can be argued to be as important as any of the developments in "late neoclassical economics." Further, I question the title "late" in "late neoclassical economics," it is almost certainly premature. Wolff and Resnick do not see these developments within neoclassical economics as any serious challenge to the orthodoxy and do not believe these developments as connecting with Marxian themes of class, exploitation, and instability. They base most of this on the philosophical foundations and entry point of neoclassical economics. I believe this to be an important point, but it is not clear whether the philosophical foundations/entry point of neoclassical economics are consistent with some of the results of behavioral economics, (evolutionary) game theory, imperfect competition, and asymmetric information. I am more optimistic that neoclassical economists working within these "late" developments may be in a position of sympathy to understanding, traditionally, more Marxian themes of class, exploitation, and instability.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read! 19 May 2013
By Bob in Michigan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's good to leave the scary propaganda behind and see the three primary economic theories discuss side by side. All have flaws; all have good points; and all are theories. It's not a science.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 28 Dec. 2014
By BG - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book but not compatible with the latest editions of Kindle!
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Font Change Icon 6 Mar. 2013
By DrDave - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Of the many Kindle books I have read, this is the first that was missing the "Aa" font icon so that I was unable to change the font size. Additionally, it provides only a one page orientation. Amazon support was helpful in zeroing in on the issue. The webpage does indicate that this is a replica of the print book, which is something I did not notice and would not have understood the impact of it anyway.

After experimenting with the pages in this book, I discovered that if I used it in landscape orientation, and double-tapped the screen, it would fill the screen with print which was larger than what was originally shown. The font could then be enlarged more by doing a reverse-pinch maneuver with my fingers, but that put much of the page outside of the viewing area. Although these are viable workarounds to no having the "Aa" icon, they are cumbersome. This was something that the Amazon support staff person I spoke to did not appear to be aware of.

The authors have provided an interesting and logical examination of the subject matter. Although it is obviously a text book, it does a good job of presenting a complex set of economic theories, their histories, how they interrelate, and their consequences for society. It is also good in that it does not seem to assume a knowledge base that a reader may not have beyond basic economic theory. This is a book that will not provide the reader so much with the basics of the theories, but rather, it is an exploration of their genesis and how they interact with each other, especially as to how each adjusts for events that challenge their respective views.

This book opens a lot of doors, not only as to the various theories, but also as to how a person's particular way of viewing the world might influence which theory supports that world view, thus demonstrating another case of having a viewpoint and finding a theory to support it as opposed to finding a theory first and developing a viewpoint therefrom. There is also an emphasis on the sometimes shared lexicon of these competing theories with significantly different meanings assigned. What a Marxist means by class is not the same thing that a Keynesian means, so comparing apples to apples becomes yet a little more challenging for the unenlightened.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical retrospective of conflicting theories 25 Feb. 2013
By Mario Pines - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very good work, precise and complete in synthesizing the theoretical struggle within the invisible hand and any public policy or intervention. It matches all the essentials on these subject.
I would love to hear it red as well, trough a DVD edition
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