Other Websites Critical About Mainstream Economics

In the below links are given to websites that, as, are critical of today’s mainstream economics and promote new ways of economic thinking – or claim to do so. In some instances these websites also promote initiatives in line with sustainable development, paying attention to applying economics to social and environmental issues.

Website of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET). INET’s mission is to nurture a global community of next-generation economic leaders, to provoke new economic thinking, and to inspire the economics profession to engage the challenges of the 21st century. INET sets up research programs and offers research grants, organizes conferences, and in its own words “establishes partnerships with leading thought centers (universities, think-tanks and other research-oriented institutions) around the world to provide intellectual hubs aligned with the INET mission and supporting local communities of innovators.”

Where we differ: The Institute stays safely within the confines of conventional liberal economics, there is nothing revolutionary here. It is a podium for the progressive economic establishment, but leaves little room for presenting really new ideas. I contacted INET to see if there was some way to put Crisis, Economics and the Emperor’s Clothes up for discussion, and received back an offer to apply for a grant. Nonetheless, better a progressive, liberal economics with attention for such issues as sustainability and inequality than orthodox economists who either believe genuinely that markets are the solutions to all problems, or proclaim to do so to serve the interests of the well-off.

The new economics foundation (nef) is a British independent “think-and-do tank” that “inspires and demonstrates real economic well-being.” Further quotes: “We aim to improve quality of life by promoting innovative solutions that challenge mainstream thinking on economic, environment and social issues. We work in partnership and put people and the planet first. … We are unique in combining rigorous analysis and policy debate with practical solutions on the ground, often run and designed with the help of local people. We also create new ways of measuring progress towards increased well-being and environmental sustainability.”

Where we differ: nef is comparable to INET in that it is a haven for progressive economists who aim for a better, more equitable and sustainable world, yet do not address the fundamental shortcomings of economics as a science. Instead of the more academic approach of INET, of research grants and projects and promoting the exchange of ideas, nef is more practically oriented. About finance and business: “We need a financial system that channels resources into socially useful and productive activities that respect environmental limits. Businesses are powerful agents for innovation and must be part of the solution.” INET has a host of interesting publications on its website.

The mission of the New Economics Institute is to build a New Economy that prioritizes the well-being of people and the planet. The Institute recently merged with the New Economics Network, and presently focuses on building a movement that in its own words, “will propel America to rapidly embrace the transition to a just and sustainable economy”. Lines of work include support for campus networks dedicated to a new economy, conferences and seminars, a library (with among others the work of E.F. Schumacher, well known for his dictum “small is beautiful”), and work on local currencies and community land trust systems.

RWER, Real World Economics Review, is a website which describes itself as follows: The RWER is a free open-access journal, but with access to the current issue restricted to its 26,498 subscribers (07/12/16). Subscriptions are free. Over one million full-text copies of RWER papers are downloaded per year. Somewhat oddly, the website does not have a Home or About Page which elaborates a bit more on the goals of or the people and organizations behind the website. Several blogs / posts appear each day, written by authors of papers published in the RWER, which can be received by an email subscription to the blog. Anyone may comment on the blogs after registering.

In terms of a fundamental critique of economics this is by far the most interesting and lively website, with many posts being highly critical of mainstream economics and a few even critical of modeling or at least of the current mainstream modeling efforts. Most comments and the mainstream on this website are, however, still located firmly within the overall modeling paradigm, proposing other forms of modeling rather than an entirely different approach to economic research. Nonetheless this website is highly recommended for anyone interested in economics, and especially economists and economics students with an eye for the shortcomings of their science and the willingness to assess it critically.