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.

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.

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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)

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Phil Coelho and Jim McClure on the Market for Lemmas

Phil Coelho and Jim McClure discuss their research published in EJW 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.

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Christopher Martin on Adam Smith and Liberal Economics

Drawing on his EJW article, Christopher Martin discusses Emma Rothschild’s influential article “Adam Smith and Conservative Economics,” which treats of a parliamentary debate in 1795–96 as giving rise to two contrasting images of Adam Smith. Martin questions the contrast that Rothschild draws, and recurs to the original debate between William Pitt and Samuel Whitbread, as well as to Smith’s own texts.

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