Monday, April 04, 2005

Too many thoughts, too little time 

I had such a good time at my conference last week that I didn't post on Friday. I will write more about it soon, but here's a thought from it that I had:

The conference title was "Neoliberalism, Economic Development and Mental Models". Question: Who defines himself as a neoliberal? The organizers asked me when I first heard the term and I said it was in 2002 by a critic, and that I had always heard the name applied to others, largely as a perjorative. I remembered on the plane trip home that I was pretty sure it was Joe Stiglitz I heard it from. And I'm pretty sure I'm right, as it appears on page 74 in Globalization and its Discontents. Here's the passage (link annotations are mine):
The Washington Consensus policies, however, were based on a simplistic model of the market economy, the competitive equilibrium model, in which Adam Smith's invisible hand works, and works perfectly. Bause in this model there is no need for government -- that is, free, unfettered, "liberal" markets work perfectly -- the Washington Consensus policies are sometimes referred to as "neo-liberal," based on "market fundamentalism," a resuscitation of the laissez-faire policies that were popular in some circles in the nineteenth century. In the aftermath of the Great Depression and the recognition of other failings of the market system, from massive inequality to unlivable cities marred by pollution and decay, these free market policies have been widely rejected in the more advanced industrial countries, though within these countries there remains an active debate about the appropriate balance between government and markets.

As I say, perjorative. I ended up sounding pretty harsh Friday, I suspect. I would go on here, but we've got lots to discuss over the next few days. I'll get back to this later.