November, 2016

Engines, Ecologies, and Economic Systems

  • Richard Wagner

    Distinguished Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
  • Giuseppe Eusepi

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Find the full working paper at SSRN.

This is the third of six chapters of the penultimate draft of a book titled Public Debt: An Illusion of Democratic Political Economy. This essay asks the reader to think whether an economy in its entirety is better construed as an engine or as an ecological system. By treating it as an engine, economists can pretend to be mechanics. Once an economy is recognized to be a complex ecological system, the mythology of global governance gives way to the reality of multiple sources of local governance. For democracies, there is no person who can reasonably be described as making choices for the regime. Instead, choices emerge out of processes of interaction among collections of people.