From the Institute for New Economic Thinking

We would like to introduce our new blog on the website of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) entitled ‘Reading Mas-Colell’, which will initially run in the fall of 2012, alongside our teaching of a course which uses the textbook on microeconomics by Mas-Colell, Whinston and Green. We hope to make a modest contribution to economic thinking by engaging in selective close reading and commentary on a very influential text, which in certain ways has become a ‘Bible’.

Our goal is to help through the blog to change the way in which economics teaching is approached at the Ph.D. level (many agree that it is limited and limiting). We hope to generate a lively conversation on how economics is taught and practiced today.

You can find the blog on the INET website at:

We very much hope that you and your readers will participate in the conversation that we hope to generate.

Best wishes,

Sanjay G. Reddy and Raphaele Chappe


Oh great, another blog

At least the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) will be a great place to read about eurogeddon -

'New York (ots/PRNewswire) - Europa steht an der Schwelle zur Katastrophe. Die Streitpunkte des Euro liegen auf der Hand und die Interaktion zwischen den Märkten, unzulängliche Institutionen sowie nicht nachhaltige politische Rahmenbedingungen in vielen Ländern treiben die europäische Wirtschaft in Richtung Depression und die Eurozone in Richtung Desintegration.

Die Dringlichkeit der Situation und der Wunsch, diese Schwierigkeiten zu überwinden, motivierten das Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), die Gründung des Ökonomen-Rats ?INET Council on the Euro Zone Crisis (ICEC)" zu finanzieren, der aus 17 führenden europäischen Ökonomen besteht. Die Gruppe hielt ihr erstes Treffen vom 26. bis zum 27. Juni in Brüssel und ist seither virtuell in ständigem Kontakt.'

And of course, that is predictable, if only because of how one of its founders made a cool billion or two (pounds, dollars, marks - whatever) blowing up the proto-euro EC exchange rate mechanism, as this institute was founded by George Soros and Jim Balsillie according to Sourcewatch.

Yep, Soros wanted some more left-wing groups to counter the libertarian think thanks.

"economics teaching is approached at the Ph.D. level": do research students really get subjected to "teaching" at the PhD level?

dearime, in the US thankfully we do. The first two years of my PhD studies at Michigan were course work (plus qualifier/field exams), the third year was a transition year to independent research and more technical courses, then four to finish was research. The courses cover a lot of content and there's plenty of self study, but the professors give it structure. I also think there were many benefits from classroom interactions with the faulty before doing dissertation research with them. Plus some were amazing classroom teachers in addition to accomplished researchers.

On the post, personally I relied Varian texts and my study group to help me translate Mas Colell, but if a blog helps, cool. Also I think 'phonebook' is the nice nickname I used...big book, small print, lots of info.

Thanks: I had thought that the teaching bit was knocked off in the first year or eighteen months, and qualified the students for a Masters. Seems I was wrong.

P.S. Congratulations on a wonderfully creative typo. :-)

dearieme, the simpler answer would have been to say entrants to PhD economics programs in US don't necessarily have a masters and so this is earned via coursework on the way to a PhD. Note the first year of coursework is usually general (including Mas Colell) and the second year and any courses in the third are more specialized.

P.S. Sorry about mistyping your screen name. No clue why my mistake's creative but I am happy to stay clueless.

I had to read your post a third time before catching the typo: "faulty" for "faculty"!

Oops. Guess auto correct has it out for economists too. I'll admit not all my flashbacks to grad courses are positive but that was often more my fault than the faculty.

It might be helpful if economics programs taught students how to be economists, not just economics. Does anyone ever do a Econ PhD / MBA? I've never heard of it. Why not?

My suggestion: Include two semesters of accounting. Accounting is not glamorous, but you'll never see a financial crisis coming if you don't know how to read a P&L and balance sheet.

probably because MBA courses are almost always completely devoid of any useful content, much less useful content for an academic researcher. i'm not sure you even know what most economists do, though, if you think an MBA would help.

"uh" - you look like someone who could really benefit from doing an MBA. The fact that economists don't know/care/value what managers learn and do is indeed a sad reflection of the state of economics today. Hubris has never done anyone any good.

YSK, if you really believe that taking MBA classes equates to understanding what managers do, then that's a sad reflection on your understanding, not mine.

Are you saying that the MWG textbook provides a better understanding of what managers do than a standard management textbook?

have you ever read a standard management textbook? i'd say the two are equally uninformative, and MWG isn't even trying to talk about management.

Econ. PhD + CPA might make more sense.

Steven, rather than trying to create an 'all-knowing' economist I would underscore the need for economists to be conversant with other disciplines. Policy work often draws across many specialities and disciplines, but it's my impression that economists' listening skills could be better. Maybe course work in grad school would help, but I'm skeptical.

Using MWG at the New School is a bit ironic, no? To be sure, Raphaele Chappe does take some of the sting out of the irony.

Nothing says "rethinking the way economics teaching is approached" like MWG...

Please listen for the clues, e.g. "close reading", "Bible". This is clearly going to be along the lines of "replace capitalism with something nicer".

MWG is wrong because math is a social construct. A truly emancipatory economics cannot be derived from centuries of hierarchical oppression built upon arbitrary axioms. The system is defended only by those well-positioned enough to benefit. Ironically, these "rent seekers" will be destroyed by their own hegemony.

I am totally agree with your thoughts. Keep doing these type of work.

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