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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Real world economics

We’ve ripped up those bad old textbooks, and rewritten from first principles

Could they both be right, the “rip it up” critics, who—like Howard Reed in last month’s Prospect—claim that Econ 101 is broken, and the economists fighting back—such as Diane Coyle—who point to the solid research the profession is doing to address pressing social problems?

The textbook model is definitely broken. In it, economic actors are amoral and self-interested, perfectly competitive markets implement “optimal” outcomes, while environmental degradation, instability, and inequality are afterthoughts. Nobody believes it. Yet it continues as the backbone of much undergraduate teaching. However remote it might be from what economists really do and think, this is the “economics” imprinted on the public’s mind. The harbinger of change in any discipline is when its top researchers have for the most part abandoned the benchmark models taught to undergraduates.

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In Prospect’s June issue: Isabel Hilton, Rana Mitter, Kerry Brown and Yuan Ren debate the rise of China and what it means for the UK and the rest of the world. Hilton argues that China’s ideas could dominate the next century, just as American ideas dominated the last. Rana Mitter charts how those ideas have developed from Confucius to modern political theorist Wang Huning. Kerry Brown explores how Australia is dealing with the rise of China, by reimagining itself as an Asian country and drifting from the US. Yuan Ren asks whether China’s young people will forge a new path for the country in the coming decades. Elsewhere in the issue: Steve Bloomfield explores Jeremy Corbyn’s foreign policy, asking whether Britain would become a silent protester on the global sideline; Jonathan Liew asks if the World Cup has seen better days; Miranda France explores the life and meaning of Frida Kahlo, and Simon Jenkins says Trump’s charge through the China shop of world affairs is not all bad news.