Meyerson the Magnificently Mistaken

by Don Boudreaux on October 1, 2009

in Economics

Here’s a letter that I sent yesterday to the Washington Post:

Using a big floppy roller to paint a fine portrait creates only a mess as unintelligible as it is ugly.  And so it is with Harold Meyerson’s attempt to portray modern market-oriented economics (“Economists for an Imaginary World,” Sept. 30).

For example, Mr. Meyerson’s suggestion that free-market economics relies uniquely and especially heavily upon elegant mathematics is flat-out wrong.  Perhaps the greatest champion of the mathematical modeling of economic relationships is Paul Samuelson, who is no one’s idea of a free-marketeer.  And perhaps the greatest free-market economist of the 20th century, F.A. Hayek, not only used almost no math in his own work, but he also literally wrote a book – The Counter-Revolution of Science (1952) – to warn economists of the severe limits of mathematics as a language for learning about, and discussing, a phenomenon as complex as a modern human economy.

Donald J. Boudreaux


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