Over the course of the twentieth century, professional economists have become a feature in the policymaking process and have slowly changed the way we think about work, governance, and economic justice. However, they have also been a frustrating, paradoxical, and in recent years, controversial fixture in American public life.
This book focuses on the emergence and growth of professional economics in the U.S., examining the challenges early professional economists faced, which foreshadowed obstacles throughout the twentieth century. From the founding of the American Economic Association in 1885 to the depths of the Great Depression, this volume illustrates why some of the most optimistic and capable economic minds struggled to help smooth economic transitions and tame market fluctuations.
Drawing on archival research and secondary sources, the text explores the emergence of professional economics in the United States and explains how economists came to be ‘irrelevant geniuses’. This book is well suited for those who study and are interested in American history, the history of economic thought and policy history.
Introduction 1. The Problems at Hand 2. The Money Question 3. On Firm Ground 4. Economists and the Search for Industrial Order 5. Obscured Irrelevance: Economists in the Boom Years 6. Stuck in the Middle: Economists, Agricultural Reform, and Crisis Conclusion. The Legacy of the Professional Economist