June 25, 2020
Economists and the Question of Slavery – How they all got it wrong

In this edition of Smart Talk, Ed Dodson speaks with Former IMF economist Peter Doyle on why slavery, arguably the biggest wealth transfer in history has been a complete blind spot in the discipline of Economics. According to Peter, not only did classical economists get the issue of slavery wrong, but so too did heterodox economists. The problem, he argues lies with what he calls the “agency problem” which provided cover for some people to own and appropriate the labor of others. 

He further argues that the closest substitute to correcting the wrong is for the State to pay reparation to the forbears of those who have been denied their agency. Failing to do so establishes a precedent that legitimizes the seizure and appropriation of the economic rent that belongs to others.