NSSR Faculty Anwar Shaikh Publishes Economic Analysis of Modern Capitalism

Whether for academic work or a personal pursuit, those who are interested in capitalism may want to add a new book to their shelf: Capitalism: Competition, Conflict and Crisis by Anwar Shaikh, Professor of Economics at The New School for Social Research.

The book develops microeconomic and macroeconomic theory from real behavior and real competition, and uses it to explain empirical patterns in microeconomic demand and supply, wage and profits, technological change, relative prices of goods and services, interest rates, bond and equity prices, exchange rates, patterns of international trade, growth, unemployment, inflation, national and personal inequality, and the recurrence of general crises such as the current one which began in 2007-2008.

Shaikh started the book 25 years ago, and “as my ideas evolved, I realized I wanted to talk not about what Ricardo had said, and Smith had said, and Marx had said.” For Shaikh, the questions that he wanted to answer had become about capitalism itself, and “not the genealogy of the ideas.” Shaikh became more interested in the actual patterns of capitalism over time, and decided to abandon the manuscript he had been working on for ten years to begin anew.

Shaikh explained that the book diverges both from orthodox economics and the dominant elements of heterodox economics, because “there is no reference… to any idealized framework as a foundation, rooted in perfect firms, perfect individuals, perfect knowledge, perfectly selfish behavior, rational expectations, and optimal outcomes.”

Shaikh’s work received strong support from Andrew Mazzone, the president of the Henry George School of Social Science in New York City. Mazzone called Capitalism “the most explosive book that people will ever see in the next 20 years.” Mazzone offered to record the graduate class that Shaikh has constructed by using the book’s framework, and the lectures can be found currently on the HGSSS website.

This article was originally published in Research Matters and was written by former NSSR graduate student assistant Gina Cairney, Sociology ’16.