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Fall 2021 catalog cover

The Penn Press list for fall 2021 includes hardcover releases, first-time paperbacks, and ebook editions intended for scholars, students, and serious general readers worldwide. Click here to explore our forthcoming books, grouped by subject area.

Economics and the Real World

Andrew M. Kamarck

180 pages | 6 x 9
Cloth 1983 | ISBN 9780812279023 | $79.95s | Outside the Americas £64.00
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512809466 | Buy from Combined Academic Publishers £64.00
An Anniversary Collection volume

"A very important book. Although some of his conclusions are rather controversial, this is the kind of book that should be widely read by economists and from which they and others would benefit."—Arthur I. Bloomfield, University of Pennsylvania

"[Kamarck] is a genius. If this book were made compulsory reading for all students of economics our subject would be transformed."—Gary Routh, University of Sussex

Drawing on a lifetime of distinguished work in economic research and policymaking, Andrew Kamarck details how his profession can more usefully analyze and solve economic problems by changing its basic approach to research.

Kamarck contends that most economists today strive for a mathematical precision in their work that neither stems from nor leads to an accurate view of economic reality. He develops elegant critiques of key areas of economic analysis based on appreciation of scientific method and knowledge of the limitations of economic data. Concepts such as employment, market, and money supply must be seen as loose, not exact. Measurement of national income becomes highly problematic when taking into account such factors as the so-called underground economy and currency differences. World trade analysis is based on inconsistent and often inaccurate measurements. Subtle realities of the individual, social, and political worlds render largely ineffective both large-scale macroeconomics models and micro models of the consumer and the firm. Fashionable cost-benefit analysis must be recognized as inherently imprecise. Capital and investment in developing countries tend to be measured in easy but irrelevant ways.

Kamarck concludes with a call for economists to involve themselves in data collection, to insist on more accurate and reliable data sources, to do analysis within the context of experience, and to take a realistic, incremental approach to policymaking. Kamarck's concerns are shared by many economists, and his eloquent presentation will be essential reading for his colleagues and for those who make use of economic research.

Andrew M. Kamarck worked for twenty-six years at the World Bank. He was also a research associate at Harvard Center of International Affairs and Professor of Economics at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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