Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

EJW Audio

The voice of Econ Journal Watch

Lawrence H. White, the voice of EJW Audio The host of EJW Audio is Lawrence H. White, a co-editor of EJW and professor of economics at George Mason University.

In a typical EJW Audio podcast, Professor White and the author of a recent EJW article discuss that article and related issues.

David Lipka on Deirdre McCloskey, Max U, and Prudence in Adam Smith

David Lipka brings Adam Smith’s ideas about prudence to Deirdre McCloskey’s suggestion that the Max U approach represents prudence. In this discussion of his EJW article, Lipka suggests that prudence in Smith and maximization are quite different things, and he explains several facets of the difference. While embracing McCloskey’s larger project, Lipka cautions against associating prudence with maximization.

Listen now »

Daniel Sutter on the Near Absence of Math-free Economics Articles

In an EJW article, Daniel Sutter and Rex Pjesky asked “Where Would Adam Smith Publish Today?” Their research shows that an overwhelming share of papers appearing in six leading general journals and four leading field journals are mathematical, with 6% of the papers qualifying as ‘math-free’ by the weakest criterion and only 1.5% by the strongest criterion. Here Sutter talks about the findings, noting that Smith, Keynes, Hayek, and Coase might never have broken through had such conditions held in their time. He suggests that perhaps economics has fallen into a homophily among mathematical researchers, resulting in a narrowing of discourse and methods.

Listen now »

Henry E. Smith on Property

Henry E. Smith is one of the premier critics of the bundle-of-rights view of property. In this podcast he discusses the nature of property, highlighting the core feature: a presumptive exclusion. He discusses some of the problems with the bundle-of-rights view, highlighting information costs and the forsaking of the core feature of exclusion. Smith is one of nine scholars who contribute to the EJW symposium on the “bundle” view. (Link to his contribution)

Listen now »

Phil Coelho and Jim McClure on the Market for Lemmas

Phil Coelho and Jim McClure discuss their research published in EJW (Link to Article) and elsewhere showing that top journal papers containing lemmas—intermediate steps in a lengthy proof—are rarely cited by other economists and almost never yield testable propositions. Following Alfred Marshall and Donald F. Gordon, Coelho and McClure argue that longer chains of mathematical reasoning generally have less relevance to understanding real-world economic phenomena.

Listen now »