I have been attempting to finish an article I started five years ago and hoped that reviews of David Warsh’s Knowledge and Wealth of Nations might help me avoid re-reading it. One of the reviews I came across was by Prof. Michael A Bernstein. Here are my notes.

Academics can be rough, but what he said made me curious about what else he’s said.  He argues that the the book is a journalist’s story and misses the contributions of important economists, for instance,

… should they also fail to consult the publications of Roger Backhouse, A. W. Coats, Mary Furner, Philip Mirowski, Mary Morgan, and Dorothy Ross, their work would then be viewed as neither properly conceived nor adequately executed.

He also criticises the book for understating Marx’s contribution to the understanding of the role of knowledge in the accumulation of capital.

He doesn’t have a wikipedia page, his most recent appointment is advertised at Stony Brook University and they say,

Professor Michael Bernstein’s teaching and research interests focus on the economic and political history of the United States, macroeconomic theory, industrial organization economics, and the history of economic theory. His publications explore the connections between political and economic processes in modern industrial societies, as well as the interaction of economic knowledge and professional expertise with those processes as a whole.

Along with numerous articles and anthology chapters, Bernstein has published four volumes: The Great Depression: Delayed Recovery and Economic Change in America, 1929-1939(Cambridge University Press, 1987); Understanding American Economic Decline [co-edited with David Adler] (Cambridge University Press, 1994); The Cold War and Expert Knowledge: New Essays on the History of the National Security State [co-edited with Allen Hunter] (a special issue of Radical History Review 63 (Fall, 1995); and A Perilous Progress: Economists and Public Purpose in Twentieth Century America (Princeton University Press, 2001).

It is the latter that would seem to be what I need to look at to see what he was thinking about innovation and growth although it’s possible that what he had to say about the recovery from recession may also be relevant today. I have linked the citation above for A Perilous Progress to the Harvard Press page which is interesting in its own right.

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