The Influence of GMU Economics

by Don Boudreaux on August 31, 2009

in Economics

Twenty percent of the books assigned by Greg Mankiw to students in his freshman economics seminar at Harvard were written by GMU economists — and ten percent by a blogger here at the Cafe.

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Stephan August 31, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Well that fact is indeed alarming!

Anonymous August 31, 2009 at 9:27 pm

what means GMU?

Stephan August 31, 2009 at 9:33 pm

George Mason University – the birth cradle of Austrian Economics and the papal embassy for Free Markets Undisturbed by Humanity.

Stewart Ulm August 31, 2009 at 10:30 pm

The birth cradle of Austrian economics? I would have suggested Vienna for that honor.

Justin P September 1, 2009 at 1:11 am

Carl Menger never taught at GMU.

Will August 31, 2009 at 10:24 pm

I definitely saw that on his blog this morning and laughed. I find it delightful that the sharpest and most promising Harvard students will be studying the likes of Friedman, Roberts, and Caplan. ;-)

Stewart Ulm August 31, 2009 at 10:26 pm

You think that’s impressive? Every single one of the novels Mankiw assigned was written by Russ.

Justin P September 1, 2009 at 1:12 am

I just wish my Macro prof would have had us read Russ and Friedman instead of Mankiw’s Keynesian claptrap.

Justin P September 1, 2009 at 1:16 am

On second thought, maybe Mankiw has learned something from the current mess and will incorporate more Austrian theory in his new edition.
At least there is hope right?

RL September 1, 2009 at 3:15 am

That’s definitely impressive, Don; it would be more so if Mankiw’s list had more than 10 items on it. :-)

Seth September 1, 2009 at 3:17 am

I loved Mankiw’s struggle with the arbritrariness of the methods used to select students for the course. That’s a good example of I call “I can do that” syndrome. That’s when something seems easy when you haven’t given it much thought, leading to the “I can do that” mentality, but it gets tougher when you actually have to do it.

I often get that when I ask someone if they can evaluate the effectiveness of a government program. “Ah, I could do that.” Oh yeah? How? “Well, you just look at it and see if it has accomplished its objectives.” As I keep pressing for details and specific examples on how that works, their frustration grows.

I hope the methods Mankiw used to select the course materials weren’t as arbritrary.

Greg_Ransom September 1, 2009 at 3:18 am

The unstated explanatory core of modern economic science is “informal” Hayekian economics and “informal” Buchanan “public choice” theory (e.g. Friedman’s _Free to Choose_ and _The Tyranny of the Status Quo_).

And GMU economists are the undisputed masters of “informal” Hayekian economics & Buchanan public choice.

No wonder Mankiw turns to the masters.

Anonymous September 1, 2009 at 8:33 am

“I am teaching a Harvard freshman seminar this semester (in addition to ec 10), and one of my first tasks is to choose the 15 students. About 200 applied. That means that getting into my seminar is about as hard as getting into Harvard–except that you first have to get into Harvard before you can even apply!”

haleluja! rationing is good ! because we know what is best for you.

And it gets worse, since he’s gonna discriminate positively for well-connected dumb suckers – you know, there’s more in life than test scores, merit is bad- , such that the “balance” is there and there’s a “lively discussion” between the students.

Yeah right, a random picking could certainly never deliver that …

Interesting to know that Prof. Boudreaux claims to like liberty, but apparently he is proud to be associated with a rationing agency.

And on topic: perhaps Prof. Mankiw assigned the two books to criticise them, as an example of how NOT to understand economics….

Anonymous September 1, 2009 at 10:51 am

What in the world does rationing have to do with liberty?? Scarcity is a fact of life, not a restriction on freedom.

Anonymous September 1, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Euh, why would it be impossible to educate 200 pupils instead of 15?

think in 2009 that ought to be technically possible.

And when somebody else decides for me what to study and where- even when I meet all requirements, that I find that a highly uncomfortable restriction.
Glad I never experienced that.

Anonymous September 1, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Haha. For one thing, it’s a seminar. Delivering a seminar education to 200 people instead of 15 is impossible because at 200 it ceases to be a seminar. But this is a freshman seminar – they’ll all get one, they just won’t all get Mankiw.

Nobody decides what you study if you choose to apply to Harvard. You choose to study what Harvard offers.

Justin P September 2, 2009 at 1:02 am

Harvard isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be though. They are basically running off of a reputation that should have died years ago.

Just take a look at Larry Summers, he did such a wonderful job managing Harvard’s endowment didn’t he?

Anonymous September 1, 2009 at 3:32 pm

bummer we’re not ranked anymore. :(

Anonymous September 1, 2009 at 3:32 pm

bummer we’re not ranked anymore. :(

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