Competition and conflict are intrinsic features of modern societies, inequality is persistent, and booms and busts are recurrent outcomes throughout capitalist history. State intervention modifies these patterns, but does not abolish them.
Professor Shaikh exposes how these and many other observed patterns are the results of intrinsic forces that shape and channel outcomes. Social and institutional factors play an important role, but at the same time, the factors are themselves limited by the dominant forces arising from “gain-seeking” behavior, of which the profit motive is the most important. These dominant elements create an invisible force field that shapes and channels capitalist outcomes.
The book’s approach departs from that of orthodox economics as well as the dominant elements in the heterodox tradition. There is no reference whatsoever to an idealized framework rooted in perfect firms, perfect individuals, perfect knowledge, perfectly selfish behavior, rational expectations, or so-called optimal outcomes. The book develops microeconomic and macroeconomic theory from real behavior and real competition, and uses it to explain empirical patterns in microeconomic demand and supply, wage and profits, technological change, relative prices of goods and services, interest rates, bond and equity prices, exchange rates, patterns of international trade, growth, unemployment, inflation, national and personal inequality, and the recurrence of general crises such as the current one which began in 2007-2008.
Professor Shaikh is Professor of Economics and Chair, Department of Economics, Graduate Faculty, The New School for Social Research.
The Henry George School of Social Science is indebted to Dr. Shaikh for enabling us to record and share the first series of lectures related to this new work. Follow Dr. Shaikh on Twitter, @shaikhecon