The Economists: Notes on CORE’s The Economy, Unit 1

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Joined: 20-12-13
Aug 12 2018 14:19
The Economists: Notes on CORE’s The Economy, Unit 1
CORE is an “open-access platform” “for a changing world” and “for anyone who wants to understand the economics of innovation, inequality, environmental sustainability, and more”. It attempts to readjust economics teaching towards taking the financial crisis into account. As of December 2017, its textbook – The Economy – is used to teach undergraduate economics at 64 universities, e.g. in the UK at Bangor Business School, Birkbeck (University of London), Cardiff Business School, Kings’ College London, London Metropolitan University, Northampton University, University College London, University of Aberdeen, University of Bath, University of Bristol, University of Manchester and University of Plymouth. CORE has received praise from the New Statesman, the Guardian and the Financial Times to name but a few.

In these notes, we critique the first unit of this course, henceforth simply referred to as Unit 1. In particular, we want to show that the primary purpose of this unit is to convince the reader that capitalism is rather good by a sleight of hand: GDP per capita is posited as the standard for how people are doing in a society, and across different societies. Potential social-democratic objections to the celebration of capitalism’s success are addressed by mentioning them. They are thus appreciated but then demoted to policy concerns. This seeks to deliver on the promise that economics teaching in “a changing world” must take into account that capitalism and its academic treatment have an image problem after a decade perceived as a permanent crisis.