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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2005

T C 357 • Economic Thought and Political Controversy: Then and Now

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
41105 W
9:00 AM-12:00 PM
SRH 3.108

Course Description

"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” —John Maynard Keynes This is a class about the relationship between classical economic thought and political controversy. We will pick a small number of major texts, read them carefully, and try to relate them to the issues of their own time and of ours. Included on the syllabus will be a handful of current policy papers and also of books related to current issues, to be read as counterpoints to the classical texts.

About the Professor James K. Galbraith holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr. Chair of Government/Business Relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. He is also a Senior Scholar with the Levy Economics Institute, Chair of the Board of Economists Allied for Arms Reduction (ECAAR), an international association of professional economists concerned with peace and security issues, and a Vice President of Americans for Democratic Action. Dr. Galbraith holds degrees from Harvard and Yale (Ph.D. in Economics, 1981). He studied economics as a Marshall Scholar at King's College, Cambridge in 1974-5, and then served on the staff of the U.S. Congress, including as Executive Director of the Joint Economic Committee in 1981-82. He was a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution in 1985. He served as a Chief Technical Adviser to the State Planning Commission of China on a United Nations Development Program project on macroeconomic reform in 1993-1997. His books are Balancing Acts: Technology, Finance and the American Future (Basic, 1989), Created Unequal: The Crisis in American Pay (Free Press, 1998), and Inequality and Industrial Change: A Global View (Cambridge, 2001), co-edited with Maureen Berner, as well as two textbooks, The Economic Problem coauthored with Robert L. Heilbroner and Macroeconomics with William A. Darity, Jr. He is the economics correspondent for Salon; offers regular commentary on Public Radio International’s Marketplace and an occasional column in the Texas Observer, as well as reviews and comment in many other publications. He held a Fulbright Distinguished Visiting Lectureship in China in the summer of 2001, and was named a Carnegie Scholar in 2003.

Grading Policy

This course does not contain a substantial writing component. This class is a seminar. It is not a lecture course. You are expected to read material fully in advance. Come well prepared to discuss it and to answer my questions. Some of the readings are very long. Search for the important parts, skim the rest, but don’t forget to slow down and enjoy some of the digressions. I am not going to pick and choose pages for you to read, though I will give guidance on major sections as we go along. Reading Notes: As part of the class requirements, procure a folder. Each week, take notes on the major themes of your reading and note questions you may have. Bring them to class. I will collect them and use them to help shape the discussion that day, then hand them back. At the end of the semester your collected notes will be turned in for review. The class revolves around six major themes: (1) Value, Markets, and Trade; (2) Distribution and Technology; (3) Exploitation; (4) The Culture of Capitalism; (5) Booms and Busts; and (6) War and Planning. Each should take two to three weeks, once we get started. I will give a paper assignment on a fixed topic after we have read Smith and Ricardo; papers will be due on 2/27. After that, I expect you to choose a topic for a term paper, generally within one of the major themes. The term paper should involve outside reading, independent thought, careful writing, and it should display good scholarly research habits.


Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (unabridged) David Ricardo, Principles of Political Economy and Taxation Prometheus Books Karl Marx, "The Communist Manifesto" Thorstein Veblen, Theory of the Leisure Class John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash Barbara Garson, Money Makes the World Go Around Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and its Discontents Michael A. Bernstein, A Perilous Progress: Economists and Public Purpose in Twentieth Century America


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