At the 9th Australian International Political Economy Network (AIPEN) annual workshop, hosted by Monash University (8-9 February 2018), a roundtable was hosted featuring Wesley Widmaier’s book Economic Ideas in Political Time: The Rise and Fall of Economic Orders from the Progressive Era to the Global Financial Crisis.
As part of wider work on agent-centred constructivism—that grants a focus on how elite agents’ constructions of wars and crises act as turning points for policy change and the role of intersubjective consensus formation, persuasion making engagements, and legitimacy building—Economic Ideas in Political Time understands the rise and fall of economic policy orders through a specific paradox. That paradox is that stability causes instability: intellectual and institutional stability has repeatedly caused market instability and crisis. Focusing on political orders as an amalgam of ideas and institutions over three stages of US economic policy in 1) the Progressive era; 2) the Keynesian order; and 3) the Neoliberal period, the book analyses how each epoch underwent processes of construction, conversion and crises to lead to misplaced certainty and thus the onset of the Great Depression, Stagflation and the Global Financial Crisis.
Deploying a social psychological institutional argument, it is argued, then also enables the development of a general theory of stability and instability focusing on the role of ideas in reducing uncertainty but—over time—causing misplaced certainty and crises.
The roundtable consisted of commentaries on the book in alphabetical order of appearance from Penny Griffin (University of New South Wales), Shahar Hameiri (University of Queensland), Sara Meger (University of Melbourne), John Mikler (University of Sydney) and Adam David Morton (University of Sydney) with a rejoinder from Wesley Widmaier (Griffith University) himself.
This section of the blog will publish each contribution as an individual post to build up a repository of engagements with Economic Ideas in Political Time.
Adam David Morton