A not-so-dismal science

I was just browsing through a book of this title, A Not-so-dismal Science: A Broader View of Economies and Societies, edited by Mancur Olson and Satu Kahkonen, published in 2000. It has some great essays, including Olson’s Big Bills Left on the Sidewalk: Why some nations are rich and others poor (pdf), a must-read for economists in my view.

[amazon_image id=”0198294905″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]A Not-So-Dismal Science: A Broader View of Economies and Societies[/amazon_image]

This time my eye was caught by Joel Mokyr’s essay, Innovation and its Enemies: the economic and political roots of technological inertia. It starts with a question both simple and profound. If it is primarily markets that determine the allocation of resources (the ‘fundamentalist economics’ assertion), then how does innovation ever occur – because by definition there are no markets for new goods. “Innovation is much more than an economic phenomenon,” Mokyr writes. It’s a superb essay. I’m going to have to re-read the whole book – judging from the dust, I haven’t looked at it for years.