When Does Trade Become Extortion?

When does trade become extortion? Economists say never, at least in principle. Free trade is a voluntary exchange between two parties who both stand to gain from the trade. Where’s the extortion? Let’s consider a criminal transaction in the airport of some backwoods country. A customs agent says you have to pay him a thousand… Continue reading When Does Trade Become Extortion?

Corporate Libertarian Socialism

We live in a bizarre world where we believe in libertarian free-market ideology, while we let the corporate sector practice socialism. Yet we don’t admit to either of them. “Wait”, you say. “I’m no libertarian. I believe in public parklands, and city street cleaning, and municipal firefighters and all kinds of other public services. The… Continue reading Corporate Libertarian Socialism

A Bizarre Theory That All Economists Believe

Back when I taught Economics to gullible undergrads, and to even more gullible grad students, I posed a conundrum. (I couldn’t push it too hard for fear of heresy.) But it’s actually not that difficult if put in straightforward terms, so those who have not been afflicted with Economics courses should bear with me. It… Continue reading A Bizarre Theory That All Economists Believe

Don’t Blame Prof. Smith

Adam Smith, the Scottish Presbyterian minister and professor at Glasgow University in the 18th century, is often called the father of modern Economics. But he wasn’t an economist. He was, first and foremost, a moral philosopher, who wrote a book about political economy (as it was called for centuries) on the side. His more important… Continue reading Don’t Blame Prof. Smith