Capitalist Threads: Engels the Businessman and Marx’s Capital in History of Political Economy with Robert Van Horn, 2017, 49(2): 207-232.
This essay illuminates a neglected aspect of Friedrich Engels’s life: his work at his family’s textile firm, Ermen & Engels, in Manchester, the hub of the cotton industry in the mid-nineteenth century. We argue that Engels was a merchant and an intelligencer with a detailed, comprehensive understanding of products and the movements of goods, orders, and prices in the global cotton trade. The statistical insights Engels gleaned on matters such as machinery depreciation and reinvestment, his contextualization of capitalism within a unified world market, and his recognition of the tendencies toward overproduction that threatened economic crisis, all contributed to shaping key ideas and themes of Karl Marx’s Capital Volumes I and II, leaving a lasting imprint on Marxist political economy.
Cultures of Expertise and the Public Interventions of Economists in History of Political Economy with Steven G. Medema, 2012, 45(supplement): 1-19.
The essay introduces the special issue of History of Political Economy for 2013 on “The Economist as Public Intellectual.” The essay provides a foil to the studies included in the volume that range the twentieth century examining the public interventions of economists, and close competitors, in the USA and UK.
National Science Foundation Patronage of Social Science, 1970s and 1980s: Congressional Scrutiny, Advocacy Network, and the Prestige of Economics in Minerva with Thomas Scheiding, 2012, 50(4): 423–449.
Research in the social sciences received generous patronage in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Research was widely perceived as providing solutions to emerging social problems. That generosity came under increased contest in the late 1970s. Although these trends held true for all of the social sciences, this essay explores the various ways by which economists in particular reacted to and resisted the patronage cuts that were proposed in the first budgets of the Reagan administration. Economists’ response was three fold: to engage in joint lobbying with other social scientists, to tap into their authority as a respected policy player, and to influence the types of research financed by the patron. With interviews of the former lobbyist for the social scientists, the former director of the Economics program for the National Science Foundation, and a review of the archival records of economists and their scholarly society, we discuss how economists have claimed entitlement to patronage in the closing decades of the twentieth century. We observe a dynamic and productive relationship between politicians and researchers mediated by the National Science Foundation, where civil servants, lobbyist and public minded scientists, and self-serving grantees trade roles.
Godley Moves in Mysterious Ways: The Craft of Economic Judgment in Post-war Britain in Contributions in Stock-flow Modeling: Essays in Honor of Wynne Godley, D. Papadimitriou and G. Zezza (eds.) 2012, 12-35.
The essay is a brief biographical sketch of Wynne Godley. It records and comments Godley’s career in government and academia, and examines his approach to economics as craft-like, grounded on a tacit understanding of the structures and movements of economic aggregates.
Introduction: The history of economics as a history of practice in The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 2011, 18(5): 635-642; with Harro Maas and John Davis.
Introduction and overview essay for a special issue of the European Journal of the History of Economic Thought that brings together papers from the 2010 annual meetings of the European Society for the History of Economic Thought held in Amsterdam. (Aging conference website here)
Trust in independence: The identities of economists in business magazines, 1945–1970 in Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 2011, 47(4): 359–379.
The cultural authority of social science hinges on its public representation. In postwar United States of America, the business media were influential promoters of the appreciation of economics. This essay examines the work of a journalist and editor, Leonard S. Silk, and a magazine, Business Week, to reveal how trust in economics was established in the 1960s. Electing a cast of representatives of the economics profession, the media examined their biography, character and social identity. Economists were first assigned the identity of assistants to business planning, as forecasters. Soon after, economists were represented as experts on the fiscal management of the economy, as government advisers. Overall, trustworthiness in the media was a measure of the perceived independence of economists from their employers and from ideology.