October, 2019

Liberalism in Crisis and the Promise of a Reconstructed Liberalism

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What explains the simultaneous critiques of economic theory and liberalism during the 1930s? Early neoclassical economists had a common understanding of the proper institutional context undergirding a liberal market order. From the marginal revolution emerged a growing emphasis on analyzing markets as equilibrium states rather than processes. Because the institutions that frame a liberal market order were taken as given, to the point of relative neglect, this resulted in the notion that markets operated in an institutional vacuum. The resulting association of liberalism with laissez-faire, therefore, prompted a restatement of the role institutions play in the operation of a liberal market order.