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When Keynes pondered Malthus

In a conversation with Clifford Geertz in 1976, the economist Albert O Hirschman playfully expressed the first law of the social sciences: “Whenever a phenomenon in the social world is fully explained, it ceases to operate.”Perhaps the best historical example of this idea, or at least the most famous in the history of economic thought, was the publication of An Essay on the Principle of Population by Thomas Malthus in 1798.Paul Krugman blogs that “over the roughly 60 centuries that have passed since civilization emerged in Mesopotamia, the Malthusian proposition — population pressure swallows up any gains in productivity, so that most people live on the edge of subsistence — was true for 58. It just so happens that the two centuries for which the proposition didn’t hold were the two

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In a conversation with Clifford Geertz in...

Cardiff Garcia
Cardiff writes mostly about US macroeconomic issues, with daily excursions into other topics about which he claim no expertise. Before Alphaville, Cardiff spent a little more than two years as a reporter at Dow Jones Financial News covering investment banking, asset management, and private equity. Along the way he has written freelance pieces on a variety of other topics from behavioural psychology to Muay Thai, the latter also being a personal interest that involves frequently getting kicked in the shins (and torso, and head).

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