Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Barkley-Rosser Jr. (1948-2023)

At the ASSA in San Diego, before the pandemic

It is hard to believe that Barkley has passed away. I met Barkley long ago, when I was still a PhD student in the 1990s, at the Eastern Economic Association Meeting, which still is one of the organizations that congregates both mainstream and heterodox economists with some degree of interaction. Perhaps the only such conference that still exists in the US. Barkley moved in between the mainstream and the heterodoxy. He should be seen, to a great extent, in the way he described the heterodoxy, as trying to break away from orthodox thinking. Although I disagreed about that definition as a description of heterodox economics, I think his definition reflected very well what he was trying to do.

His view of heterodoxy was based on the idea that the mainstream was ossified and didn't capture the complexity of actual economies. In part, he dealt with that by assuming non-linearities, and discontinuities and noting the unrealistic character of rational maximizing assumptions in a complex world. However, I think some of his most interesting work had an institutional character and was based on his joint work with his wife Marina on comparative economic development, in its third edition now.

He was the founding editor of the Review of Behavioral Economics, having been before the editor of Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, he was interested in Econophysics (he wrote the entry for the New Palgrave). He was also a blogger for one of the oldest and best established econ blogs, EconoSpeak (a short entry after his death). He was, of course, the co-editor of the New Palgrave. A great loss for the profession and all that knew him.

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