Back in 2007, we had a lively debate around a series of excerpts that Cornell economist Robert Frank contributed to the Freakonomics blog. We're hoping an excerpt from his latest book, The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good, will spawn a similar conversation.
In it, Frank makes a rather bold prediction: within the next century, Charles Darwin, the naturalist, will unseat Adam Smith as the intellectual founder of economics. Frank believes Darwin's insights into the nature of competition describe our current economic reality far better than Smith's invisible hand. Frank argues that we live in a world where competition doesn't channel self-interest for the common good, but rather into unbridled "arms races" where relative position is pursued above all else: who has the biggest bank? The biggest house? These races rarely benefit group interests. In fact, Frank argues, they have done enormous harm to our economy and provided no lasting advantages or benefits, since gains tend to be relative and offsetting.
My favorite Obama quotation is not one of his most poetic: My mother [would] … wake me up at 4:30 in the morning, and we’d sit there and go through my lessons. And I used to complain and grumble. And she’d say, “Well this is no picnic for me either, buster.” He had me at […]
Are prediction markets efficient? Robert Frank back on his feet after a heart attack. (Earlier) Hackers use “flirt” program to fool would-be online daters. (HT: Marginal Revolution) Malawian innovator builds windmills to provide local electricity.
We recently posted a series of excerpts from The Economic Naturalist, a new book by the Cornell economist Robert Frank (who has another new book out this week, Falling Behind, a brief treatise on income inequality). Because the Economic Naturalist excerpts were well received and vigorously debated, we asked Frank if he would reply to […]
The Cornell economics professor Robert Frank (not to be confused with the excellent Wall Street Journal writer Robert Frank, or the great photographer Robert Frank) begins a semester by asking his students to ask and answer a real-world economics question in 500 words or less. He has now compiled these essays in a book called […]
Yesterday, we posted a Q&A with economist and all-around smart guy Steve Landsburg, who addresses a lot of everyday riddles in his writing. Sometime in the next few days, we’ll be posting excerpts from the economist Robert Frank‘s new book The Economic Naturalist. So far, I am loving Frank’s book. It poses a series of […]