History of and documents from the PAE Movement



Six winners of the Bank of Sweden Prize for Economics have written as follows.


". . . economics has become increasingly an arcane branch of mathematics rather than dealing with real economic problems"

Milton Friedman


“[Economics as taught] in America's graduate schools... bears testimony to a triumph of ideology over science.” 
Joseph Stiglitz


"Existing economics is a theoretical [meaning mathematical] system which floats in the air and which bears little relation to what happens in the real world"

Ronald Coase


“We live in an uncertain and ever-changing world that is continually evolving in new and novel ways.  Standard theories are of little help in this context.  Attempting to understand economic, political and social change requires a fundamental recasting of the way we think” 

Douglass North


“Page after page of professional economic journals are filled with mathematical formulas […] Year after year economic theorists continue to produce scores of mathematical models and to explore in great detail their formal properties; and the econometricians fit algebraic functions of all possible shapes to essentially the same sets of data”

Wassily Leontief


“Today if you ask a mainstream economist a question about almost any aspect of economic life, the response will be: suppose we model that situation and see what happens…modern mainstream economics consists of little else but examples of this process”

Robert Solow



Post-Autistic Economics is about changing this state of affairs.


"Economics is supposed to be social science, i.e. an intellectual discipline resting upon empirically-observed facts, in which mathematics and conceptual frameworks are tools for understanding.  But in contemporary mainstream economics, the tools are often in the driver's seat, declaring evident facts impossible and reducing the subtleties of the real world to whatever clockwork economists best know how to build.  Post-Autistic economics is the attempt to escape the tyranny of these tools and build new ones that will work properly."

Ian Fletcher

“Modern economics is sick. Economics has increasingly become an intellectual game played for its own sake and not for its practical consequences for understanding the economic world. Economists have converted the subject into a sort of social mathematics in which analytical rigour is everything and practical relevance is nothing.”
Mark Blaug





Some articles on the PAE Movement
     The Post-Autistic Economics Movement   A brief history

     The Strange History of Economics

     Policy Implications of Post-Autistic Economics

     Toxic Textbooks Facebook Group


     The Economics Profession of the Future?

     “Teaching Economics: PAE and Pluralism”, (EAEPE, July 2005)
     “Post-Autistic Economics”  (Social Policy, summer 2005)
     “Post-Autistic Economics”  (Soundings, April 2005)
Signifying nothing?”   (The Economist, Jan 29, 2004)
     “Revolutionizing French Economics”  (Challenge, Nov/Dec. 2003) pdf

     “Fired up for battle”  The Guardian (UK) 9 September 2003
     Taking On 'Rational Man'”
The Chronicle of Higher Education (US) 24 Jan. 2003
”The 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics” The Journal of Investing (US) Spring 2003
“The Storming of the Accountants” The New Statesman  (UK)  21 Jan. 2002
     “Post-autisten' vallen economische heilige huisjes aan De Morgen  (Bruxelles) 2 Mar. 2002
          English Translation
     movimiento económico postautista IBLNEWS, 14 March 2002
     “Distorted economic relations: A new movement – the post-autistic economists
          want to renew economics”
Sueddeutsche Zeitung  (Munich) 3 April 2002


Some important PAE texts

     The Student Petition of Autisme-Economie  (June 2000)
French Petition for a Debate on the Teaching of Economics  (July 2000)
     Issue No. 1 of the post-autistic economics newsletter  ( September 2000)
A Contribution on the State of Economics in France and the World

          James K. Galbraith 

     Autistic Economics vs. the Environment
           Frank Ackerman 

     Humility in Economics

          André Orléan  )

     Real Science is Pluralist

          Edward Fullbrook 

     Teaching Economics Through Controversies

          Gilles Raveaud 

     Back to Reality

           Tony Lawson 
The Relevance of Controversies for Practice as Well as Teaching

           Sheila C Dow 

     Opening Up Economics

          The Cambridge 27

     Economists Have No Ears

          Steve Keen 

     An International Open Letter

         "The Kansas City Proposal" 

     How Did Economics Get Into Such a State?

          Geoffrey Hodgson 

     Why the PAE Movement Needs Feminism

          Julie A. Nelson 

     Kicking Away the Ladder: How the Economic and Intellectual Histories of Capitalism Have 

        Been Re-Written to Justify Neo-Liberal Capitalism

           Ha-Joon Chang

     Economic History and the Rebirth of Respectable Characters
Stephen T. Ziliak

     Some Old But Good Ideas

          Anne Mayhew 

     An Alternative Framework for Economics

          Jason Potts and John Nightingale 

     Is the Concept of Economic Growth Autistic?
          Jean Gadrey 
     Toward a Post-Autistic Economics Education

          Susan Feiner 
     Is There Anything Worth Keeping in Standard Microeconomics?

          Bernard Guerrien 
     Doctrine-centered Versus Problem-centered Economics
          Peter Dorman 

     Social Being as a Problem for an Ethical Economics
          Jamie Morgan 


The Petitions

New Petition  (May 2008)

Student Essays on PAE

Two World Views: Ecological Economics vs. Environmental Economics

German Section

French Section

Portuguese Section

Spanish Section

Chinese, Flemish, Italian and Turkish Sections

The Perestroika Movement  -  a sister movement to PAE in political science

Some more articles concerning the PAE Movement

New Post-Autistic Economics Books



Here are more things seriously wrong with traditional economics that Post-Autistic Economics addresses.

“. . . the close to monopoly position of neoclassical economics is not compatible with normal ideas about democracy.  Economics is science in some senses, but is at the same time ideology.  Limiting economics to the neoclassical paradigm means imposing a serious ideological limitation.  Departments of economics become political propaganda centers . . .”
Peter Söderbaum


“Economics students . . . graduate from Masters and PhD programs with an effectively vacuous understanding of economics, no appreciation of the intellectual history of their discipline, and an approach to mathematics that hobbles both their critical understanding of economics and their ability to appreciate the latest advances in mathematics and other sciences.  A minority of these ill-informed students themselves go on to be academic economists, and they repeat the process.  Ignorance is perpetuated”
Steve Keen


"Undergraduate economics is a joke -- macro is okay, but micro is a joke because they teach this stuff that you know is not true. They know the general equilibrium model is not true. The model has no good stability properties, it doesn't predict anything interesting, but they teach it ... "
Herbert Gintis


“The human economy has passed from an “empty world” era in which human-made capital was the limiting factor in economic development to the current “full world” era in which remaining natural capital has become the limiting factor “

Robert Costanza

“Most courses deal with an ‘imaginary world,’ and have no link whatsoever with concrete problems.” 
Emmanuelle Benicort


“All of these textbooks fail to explain how prices are determined in ‘markets’’ and thus how markets work.  Where do prices come from?  Who determines them?  How do they fluctuate?  These questions are never addressed, even though it is through the price mechanism that the ‘invisible hand’ is supposed to operate.”
Le Mouvement Autisme-Économie


“. . . mainstream economists seek knowledge through numbers to stop the messy reality of people, processes and politics dirtying their invisible hands.” 
Alan Shipman


“Multinationals are everywhere except in economic theories and economics departments.”

Grazia Ietto-Gillies


 “. . . the economist must engage him or herself as a citizen with convictions regarding the public good and ways of treating it, rather than as the holder of universal truth that he or she substitutes for discussion in order to impose it on us all.”
André Orléan

 “The Taliban, and its variety of fundamentalist thinking, has been the most controlling and oppressive regime with regard to women in contemporary times.  Contemporary academic economics, and contemporary global economic policies, are gripped by other rigidities of thinking – what George Soros has dubbed ‘market fundamentalism.’  Fantasies of control are operative in both phenomena, and gender is far from irrelevant to understanding their power, and their solution.”
Julie A. Nelson


“There is an urgent need for a more realistic economics of the environment, with theories and analyses that can help to create environmentally sustainable economic activity.” 

Frank Ackerman

“Modern economics is not very successful as an explanatory endeavour. This much is accepted by most serious commentators on the discipline, including many of its most prominent exponents”

Tony Lawson


“Because mathematics has swamped the curricula in leading universities and graduate schools, student economists are neither encouraged nor equipped to analyze real world economies and institutions.”

Geoffrey M. Hodgson


“. . . the concepts of uneconomic growth, accumulating illth, and unsustainable scale have to be incorporated in economic theory if it is to be capable of expressing what is happening in the world. This is what ecological economists are trying to do.”

Herman E. Daly


“The application of mathematics to economics has proved largely unsuccessful because it is based on a misleading analogy between economics and physics. Economics would do much better to model itself on another very successful area, namely medicine, and, like much of medicine, to adopt a qualitative causal methodology.”

Donald Gillies


“Economic history courses have been disappearing from classrooms across the world. Once a compulsory part of economics education, they have been relegated to the remote corners of ‘options’ and even closed down.”

Ha-Joon Chang


“In Smith is a forgotten lesson that the foundation of success in creating a constructive classical liberal society lies in the individuals’ adherence to a common social ethics. According to Smith, virtue serves as ‘the fine polish to the wheels of society’ while vice is ‘like the vile rust, which makes them jar and grate upon one another.’ Indeed, Smith sought to distance his thesis from that of Mandeville and the implication that individual greed could be the basis for social good. Smith’s deistic universe might not sit well with those of post-enlightenment sensibilities, but his understanding that virtue is a prerequisite for a desirable market society remains an important lesson. For Smith ethics is the hero-not self-interest or greed-for it is ethics that defend social intercourse from the Hobbesian chaos.”

Charles K. Wilber


“. . . conventional economics . . . remains fixated on the view that economics is the physics of society.  In other words, most of the profession behaves as if there were a single universally valid view of the world that needs only to be applied.” 

Paul Ormerod