Quora Answer : What are some contemporary economic theories contrary to the orthodox neoliberal view? How correct are these theories likely to be?

Aug 2, 2014

I think David Orrell's Economyths : How the Science of Complex Systems is Transforming Economic Thought is a valuable book. (So far, I'm about half-way through)

It's valuable because it lays out a series of challenges to orthodox neoliberal economics that you can make from a complex systems perspective. That is, that mainstream economics is built around traditional equilibrium models that need to make all sorts of simplistic (and incorrect) assumptions in order to get any of the results that underlie neoliberal or neoclassical policy prescriptions.

If you try to relax or remove those assumptions, the results don't hold any more. And most of the economic justifications for policies would evaporate too.

While the book lays out a very good agenda, it's probably a little bit too "pop" for many purposes. If you didn't know a bit about economics and complex systems already I'm not sure how much you'd learn from it. And many mainstream economists will probably carp that it's raising a straw-man version of what they believe. (Though I think that if they're honest, while they may not BELIEVE those simplistic assumptions, they should recognise that the kind of overall policy prescriptions that are often trotted out in the name of economic laws ARE justified in terms of these results.)