Top economists and students from around the world gathered at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies June 20–23 to present new scholarship and research on economic thought before and after the financial crisis, economists’ behavior, liberalism and political economy, and important themes from classical economics.

The presentations were part of the 11th annual Summer Institute for the History of Economic Thought, co-directed by Jepson School dean Sandra J. Peart.  

“This year's Summer Institute gathered together an extraordinarily diverse group of scholars, undergraduates, and graduate students from countries such as Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, England, India, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Scotland, and the U.S. to discuss the foundational ideas of political economy and economics,” Peart said.

“Participants discussed new research on an age-old problem: how people come to interact in society and the fundamental role that markets, rules, and institutions play in mediating the transition from self-orientation and isolation to civil society.”

Nobel laureate James Buchanan opened the conference with a presentation titled “Chicago School Thinking: Old and New” that explored whether the Chicago School of Economics is in part responsible for the recent financial crisis.

“The answer to the question posed seems to be ‘yes, in part,’” according to Buchanan. He was careful, however, to draw a distinction between the thinking that dominated the school mid-century as opposed to later in the 20th century. 

“To me the old Chicago School would never have counted any sort of view that markets work everywhere and anywhere under any circumstances,” Buchanan told the audience.

“That mindset was partly responsible for people being less careful than they should have been in trying to regulate the macroeconomy in the pre-crisis years,” he said.

Other presentations included:

  • Vivianna Di Giovonazzo, “Towards an Alternative Paradigm of Consumer Behavior”
  • Marcel Boumans, “History of Economics as a History of Tools and Techniques”
  • Daniel Schiffman, “Keynes and the ‘Klassics’: The Macroeconomic Creation Myth
  • Yong J. Yoon, “A Confucian Interpretation of Adam Smith”

Co-directors Peart and David M. Levy, a professor of economics at George Mason University, presented on “Common Sense at 100,” the anniversary of Philip Wicksteed’s pivotal book "The Common Sense of Political Economy."

The final day of the conference was devoted to Adam Smith, the father of modern economics.