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Debunking Economics - Revised and Expanded Edition: The Naked Emperor Dethroned?
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Debunking Economics - Revised and Expanded Edition: The Naked Emperor Dethroned?

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  220 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Debunking Economics (Revised and Expanded Edition), now including a downloadable supplement for courses, exposes what many non-economists may have suspected and a minority of economists have long known: that economic theory is not only unpalatable, but also plain wrong.

When the original Debunking Economics was published in 2001, the market economy seemed invincible, and c...more
Paperback, 554 pages
Published October 15th 2011 by Zed Books (first published 2001)
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Whitaker
Update (3 December 2011)

Steve Keen's done an excellent interview with BBC Hard Talk. Check it out on his author profile. In summary, he explains that the last 30 years of growth have been fueled by a credit bubble where banks basically went wild making money from lending. Where credit is used to fund speculation (i.e., making money from the increase of asset prices as opposed to funding new business ventures), it's a Ponzi scheme. We were assured by the economists it was all stable because the b...more
Sean Fernyhough
"Thirty years ago I experienced a highly conventional education in Economics. I always had an immense difficulty in reconciling the irreconcible; the economics inside the lecture theatre and the seminar room with that in the outside world. Without the internet and books like Debunking Economics it would have taken extraordinary luck and perseverance to find the literature I needed to counteract the wrongheadedness of what I was being taught. I can even recall one of our lecturers saying that it...more
Hadrian
This deserves a longer and more in-depth review than I can provide right now (or perhaps ever). Safe to say that Keen is vicious in his aim to dethrone neoclassical economics - anything they produce is either nonsensical, absurd, or that the author should be institutionalized (his words). His reasoning is equally savage, however, and that is where this book should be studied.

More comments should follow after I finish up a few projects elsewhere and complete J R.
David
A crucial work for understanding the failures of neoclassical economics: For people, like me, who had almost given up entirely on the academic field of Economics because of ridiculous theories and poor teaching, there is fortunately still Steve Keen. In this book, the Australian Keen shows the errors of the standard views of neoclassical (orthodox) economics.

Not just some side aspects of the theory, but the actual core views of economics as it is taught in universities everywhere unravels befor...more
Grig O'
5 stars for content, 3 stars for presentation.

While Keen's intent to present complex facets of economics in layman terms is certainly laudable, his efforts to bypass mathematical formulas at all costs by use of textual, tabular and graphic illustration (even if that occasionally means spelling out formulas in sentence form) sometimes go too far.

There's quite a bit of redundancy between chapters, as well as less-than-perfect mixes of the first (2001) edition and the revised (2011, post-crash) one...more
Justin
A manifestly important book. It's hard to capture the scope of Keen's work —his erudition of the real history of economic thought and demolition of the neoclassical house of cards is breathtaking, exciting, urgently necessary.

If, like me, you sat in undergrad economics classes thinking (or even saying) 'but... huh?' then it may just be that you were quite capable of understanding what was being presented, it simply made no sense.

Eagerly await his next book....more
Kevin Varney
I am only part way through at the moment, but he has convinced me. I've never studied economics properly but I have read a few books. It seems that neo-classical economics is a mathematical theory that relies on some assumptions, but the maths is wrong and the assumptions are unrealistic. Substituting an infinitesimal for zero seems like a really invalid thing to do in a mathematical equation. Then, if someone does deduce a grand theory as a thought experiment, someone else should at least be ab...more
Petter Nordal
Every adult living in a democracy should read this book.

The next time someone tells you that rewards for the rich are the way to fix the economy, ask them what the relationship is between private debt and the supply curve. If they cannot answer (they will likely tell you that private debt is not an important factor in a capitalist economy--insane as that sounds) then you can whip out some Keen and leave them backpedaling. Even if they do answer, you will be prepared to pummel their simplistic,...more
Tombom P
Not very clear or convincing. Constantly feel like I need a glossary (uses "marginal productivity", "marginal product of labour" and "marginal revenue product" near interchangeably for example. No idea what makes each different). I fully admit this is at least partially my own fault - it would be ridiculous to expect to understand a huge amount of economics just reading straight through. But I felt it could have been made easier. I felt often like I could see how a neoclassical economist would r...more
Patrick
Some Anvils Need to be Dropped

JDN 2456534 PDT 15:58.

A review of Debunking Economics: The Naked Emperor Dethroned? by Steve Keen.

The basic message Keen is trying to send is a vitally important one: Neoclassical economics is failing. Models based around rational agents and static equilibrium simply fail to represent the real world, and and as a result give policymakers a false sense of security against economic crisis.
The way Keen delivers this message is by avalanche: Page after page, chapter af...more
Karl H.
Debunking Economics is a non-Marxist, non-neoclassical portrait of the field of economics. It attempts to explain why economics is a field filled with unproven and erroneous assumptions. While his prediction of the present economic crisis is impressive, I feel the rest of the work is merely okay.

The style of Debunking Economics alternates in feel between an off-handed chumminess and the dryness of an economic textbook. The introductions and conclusions are too familiar in tone to feel impartial...more
Elinor Hurst
This book was not an easy read, but it gets four stars from me as in many ways I found it an utter eye opener.

Steve Keen analyses and documents in methodical detail the flaws in neoclassical economics. While there are many other books that have done this before, his is the only one that I am aware of that takes the economic academic profession head on, and plays them at their own game. He exposes their flawed thinking and gross mathematical incompetence, which to anyone who has studied mathemati...more
Chuck
From a review by Joe McCauley

"This book provides a far more clear explanation of the ideas of standard economic theory (neo-classical economics) than do the standard texts (compare with Samuelson, Mankiw, or Barro, e.g.).

The book explains utility maximization, indifference curves, and the assumptions underlying the standard economic model that is used by the IMF, the World Bank and all major western governments. Keen uses simple language that even the lay person can follow. The text should be s...more
Gregg Wingo
This book is a fantastic critique of the neoclassical synthesis and an exploration into the world of heterodox economics. Keen bravely attacks static economics at its mathematical roots and assumptions, revives Marx' theory of value and crowns him the greatest of Classical economists, defends Keynes against his opponents and heirs, and introduces the elegance and irrationality of dynamic analysis into the inherent instability of the market.

The author succeeds in trashing the NeoLiberal argument...more
Trashy Pit
Stevey-boy is my kind of guy! He’s a super-expert on standard mainstream economic theory but he doesn’t buy any of it. If you choose to read only one book in your entire life on economics, don’t read one that tries to convince you that it all makes sense (much less a book that claims to “explain it all in simple language” or some other similar nonsense). Keen knows all the Economic Theories and all the arcane math they use to obfuscate the total absurdity of what they are saying, and he carefull...more
Emre Poyraz
I agree with other reviewers that is book is one of the most accurate and brilliant criticisms of mainstream/neoclassical economics. Some of the points Mr. Keen makes are very original, and if you are looking for "ammo" to shoot at mainstream economics, this book will give you plenty.


However,I am not sure how much this book will appeal to the non-economist reader. Much of it is discussion of the existing economic theories, and without a knowledge of these theories, much of the book would be imco...more
Muhammad al-Khwarizmi
Keen is brilliant but there are two problems with this book on my end: it assumes too little mathematical knowledge at the same time as it assumes too much knowledge of the neoclassical theory he is rebutting in general.

The result is often a confusing, hard and overly verbose slog. As much as I don't like pages and pages of equations like you see in some texts, I see what he's doing sometimes and wish he would just fill it in in a box set apart from the rest of the material. He has supplemental...more
Michael
This book has the makings of an interesting and important polemic, but the writing style is too loose.

Many people may have trouble with his self-righteous tone, but as he was self-aware on this point, I found it tolerable.

What was intolerable was the rambling and repetitions. All his chapters start with sections titled "Kernel" and "Roadmap" - don't bother reading those. Don't bother reading chapters 1, 11, 12, or 17 either. If you like graphs, then go to his website for the extra graphs, in whi...more
Kevin Christensen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erich Kohlhöfer
Steve Keen has eventually shown me, something that I have thought for a very long time, that my assumptions that most of contemporary economics is actually far too simplistic and thus basically invalid.

Unfortunately, the book gets rather complicated in some places, some things could actually benefit much by using real-life examples.

That said, the book is actually for people who have at the very least a good understanding of economics, othewrwise they will be quite overwhelmed or won't understand...more
Jamie Johnson
First book I've read that's seriously looked at the assumptions underpinning the toppling edifice of macro-economics. It's no wonder the solutions don't work. Helicopter Ben may be pump-priming yet more cash into the vampire-squid's lair, but he's going to end up with a Japanese lost decade at the end. Hopefully after than the post-keynsians might actually be considered by the ivory tower mob. And I really liked the critique on Marx's labour theory of value. I've since seen some rebuttals, and n...more
Syed Ashrafulla
It's just too much. It's hard to buy a scientific argument without knowing the meanings of all the terms, and this book does not lend itself to those meanings well. The points are actually extremely important, from the destruction of the aggregate supply & aggregate demand curves to the bank-reserve relationship of money supply. If you have recent exposure in economic theory (took the intro to econ class, have an econ spouse), then this book is at least 4 stars. I didn't have that exposure,...more
Jeremy Trouncer
Interesting but technical book on the shortcomings of neoclassical economics. Would have liked to see more information on the Minsky Debt Delfation theory he Dr Keen champions but I understand this is to be in his next book. Provided a good introduction to alternative economics in particular Austrian Economics, Hyman Minksy and Keynes. Favourite part of the book was lst few chapters which discuss the inefficiency of the stock market and the need for serious reform. See Steve Keen's blog for his...more
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This was a lot more fun and interesting than might be expected for a thick book dedicated to economics. Its a good ride watching a smart, rigorous and funny author call out and dismantle the crusty parts of neoclassical economics which always seemed absurd and illogical. I probably snickered and laughed more while reading this than I have for anything else in the past year.
Catherine Pierce
I zipped through the Prologue and Chapters 1-3, stumbled on Chapter 4 which was over my head, and by the last chapter and recommended resources I am a convert to Steve Keen's school of economics. It made sense of all my previous studies of this subject. I can only hope that more readers will find this soon!
Victor
It's well thought out and mostly well written but Keen's skills are clearly stacked in favour of economics vs writing. The decision to minimise mathematical notation in explanations was noble but it resulted in some of the more simple things having unnecessarily tortuous explanations.
Grim-Anal King
Has a fair bit in common with the books of Paul Ormerod despite the authors clearing having markedly different political perspectives. They certainly seem to be on to something in their criticisms of mainstream neoclassical economics.
Chris
I have absolutely no background in economics whatsoever. Still, I could follow the book. Very good read. My only complaint is that I wish he would do more of the math, but being a math grad student my opinion is rather skewed.
Tom
It's an attempt to critique neo-classical economic theory and the economics "profession." He attempts to do so without mathematics. Not bad but sometimes things are not explained for the lay person as well as one might like.
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Steve Keen is a professor in economics and finance at the University of Western Sydney. He classes himself as a post-Keynesian, criticizing both modern neoclassical economics and Marxian economics as inconsistent, unscientific and empirically unsupported. The major influences on Keen's thinking about economics include John Maynard Keynes, Hyman Minsky, Piero Sraffa, Joseph Alois Schumpeter, and Fr...more
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