New MRUniversity class on Great Economists

We cover the history of economic thought, starting with Galileo and right up to (but not including) the Marginal Revolution.  The main course page is here.  We also now have extended “all-in-one” iTunes podcasts, which you can download from the main course page.  The course will go up in eleven installments.

Among other topics, we cover mercantilism, the Ricardian model, J.S. Mill, and provide video annotations of every single chapter from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.  Malthus, Torrens, Dupuit, Cournot, Friedrich List and many other luminaries are well-represented.  Marx will someday get a class of his own but he is not in this one, apologies to anyone concerned.

There is also an entire course section on the economic history issues behind classical economics, including the Bullionist debates (eerily reminiscent of current times, I might add), the living standards debate, the Poor Laws debate, debates over the Irish famine, the history of protectionism, and the history of British government debt in the 18th and 19th centuries, among other topics.  You will once again see just how much we are reliving and reenacting critical debates from the past.

Recording comprehensive coverage of Wealth of Nations I found an exhilarating and remarkably instructive experience; Smith is even more underrated than I had thought.

In an era when the history of economic thought is very often no longer taught at the undergraduate or graduate levels, we hope this course will help keep the history of thought tradition alive for many years to come.

By the way, if you are a historian of thought and would like to add some videos to our course, please contact us.


Is blogging starting to wear Tyler down? I took a break from following politics, and now that I've returned, he seems much more combative. I wonder if trying to write nuanced posts that illustrate the complexity of the real world and the defects of ideological and simplified models, and then being misunderstood and attacked, is getting to him. Understandably.

"We cover the history of economic thought, starting with Galileo": but why start so late?

Whups - I meant to put that in the Jamaica thread!

I was going to ask why you posted that on the same post that my exact comment was going to be "if you only listen to economists today you could easily forget the richness and promise of the field."

Dear Tyler & Alex,

Thanks so much for all these podcasts and courses. They are a wonderful resource. Without diminishing your accomplishments in your respective fields, I hope that the first line of your obits -- written many years hence -- mentions your generosity in putting together these podcasts and courses.

All best,


This sounds like an awesome class.

Whatever happened to the economic history dude who wrote here briefly?

He's history.

And we seem to have hit real time.

Thanks for the continued hard work, gentlemen; it is much appreciated. I do look forward to the day when you do a calc-based micro course.

If I told you Noam Chomsky is a fan of Adam Smith how would you react? Just a hypothetical, here..

Marx was fan of Smith, so why would that be surprising?

No, Marx was a fan of The Smiths but mainly Johnny Marr. He said that Morissey's solo stuff is too dismal and alienated.

This seems a bit out of place now, seeing as the first comment was deleted. But was intended to contradict someone's point that Adam Smith and the Koch Brothers have something in common. Indeed, Noam Chomsky does have very good things to say about Smith.

I would be surprised if he wasn't. After all Adam Smith wrote,

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."

Adam Smith was a brilliant trail blazer. Why should anyone ignore him or not be a fan?

Meant to be a reply to Ashok Rao who said If I told you Noam Chomsky is a fan of Adam Smith how would you react? Just a hypothetical, here..

Sad to see how Locke disappears - talk about collateral damage.

Personal property (whether right or wrong in the first place) adds incentives to develop resources, and we need religious freedom because what if we forced people to make decisions that were wrong according to their own views of morality/spirituality.

What else do we really need Locke for, except to realize that religion makes us do disgusting things in our own favour and think we're doing the right thing?

These things are common knowledge that have been built into all sorts of other stuff. Save it for the philosophy buffs doing a whole program in econ or politics. imo

You've got Vernon Smith next to Adam Smith. Does that mean you're going to circle back to The Theory of Moral Sentiments at the end of the course? Adam Smith as the first behavioral economist? The Liberty Fund Smith video is very nice because it balances TWON and TTOMS equally.

I believe he considered himself a moral philosopher, not an economist of any sort, although his contribution to knowledge in the field of economics cannot be overlooked.

I'm through the first volume of Murray Rothbard's Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought and well into the second. Should I drop that to take this course?

Smith must be a great scholar indeed if even a dope like Chomsky can understand him.

why don't you have all the audio in one single podcast? some of us have to work.

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