Poli 212 Politics and Economy winter 2014 course outline

This course is a survey course which introduces students to the study of political economy a discipline which draws on the sub field in political science but also on the history of economic thought, policy analysis, economic history, neoclassical economics and political theory. It is by its nature interdisciplinary. Political economy itself was what economics was called and called itself from the early nineteenth century right up until the first part of the twentieth century when the name economics took its place. Canada like the U.S. and the entire developed capitalist world has been going through the most severe economic crisis since the great depression of the 1930s. We shall intensively examine the history, traditions and tools of the discipline and use them to analyse a number of contemporary economic policy issues including globalization, unemployment, price stability, market ideology, free trade, economic development and the environment.


Text: Frank Stilwell, Political Economy:The Contest of Economic Ideas, Oxford University Press, 2012, 3rd edition.pp.458.

haroldchorneyeconomist.com. A word press blog selected posts on deficits and debt, quantitative easing, the crash and crisis and economic theory.

Grade: Essay 50 % due in class March 4.  Final test 50 %.


1. Political economy and politics and economy, introduction and overview. Reading Stilwell part one pp 1-39.

2. The language of political economy  :key concepts Stilwell pp. xl to xxl.

3. Economic systems , economic theories and classical political economy.  Stillwell pp.40 – 96.

4. The critique of capitalism. Crises, slumps and prolonged unemployment. the business cycle and Marx versus Keynes.pp.98-148.

5. Neo-classical economics: Markets, sovereign consumers, utility maximization and economic efficiency.Stilwell pp.149-209.

6. Economic systems and economic theories impact upon policy and politics,   Stilwell pp.200-209. Chorney posts:The theory of the business cycle in Hayek, Keynes and Schumpeter, posted Sept.13, 2011; After the Crash:Rediscovering Keynes and the Origins of Quantitative Easing, June 3, 2011. tba.

7. Neo-liberalism and Pareto optimality Stilwell, pp.200-209.

8.Institutional economics:Galbraith, Veblen and Mitchell and American capitalism.Stilwell pp.212-240. ; the natural rate of inflation versus the natural rate of unemployment.Chorney’s website on Galbraith.

9. The state and the economic well being. The role of politics, the rise of Keynesian intervention.  Stilwell, pp 241-262  Chorney web site items.

10. John Maynard Keynes and aggregate demand .Stilwell  pp.264-315. Chorney web site items. Keynes versusu monetarists 1&2; aggregate demand; Revisiting deficit hysteria; Rediscovering Keynes and the origins of quantitative easing.

11. Environmental economics; class ,gender and ethnicity; political economy of the state. Stilwell; pp.318-414.



Essay Assignment: Write an essay of between 10-12 pages on one of the following topics. Be sure to use a manual of style in preparing the essay and bibliography. Possible topics include the following:(still subject to revision)

1. Select two schools of political economy or economic thought and explore them in depth, including tracing their history, examining their analysis and implications for policy. Possible schools include classical political economy; institutionalism; marxist political economy; neo-classical economics; Keynesian and post Keynesian approaches.

2. Select a policy problem like free trade, unemployment, competition and anti trust, the environment or social policy and analyze it using one or more approaches from the tradition of political economy.

3. The recent financial crash and following recession demonstrated certain flaws in the dominant neo-classical school of thought. What were they and how did they manifest themselves. What do other schools have in their arsenal of tools and analyses that might have led to a better outcome.

4. Explore environmental economics as a useful approach in the twenty-first century.

5. Write an essay on problems of growth and development in Latin America. Make use of one or more of the schools of political economy in analyzing the problems and developing appropriate policies.

6. Discuss the theory of investment and crisis theory in various economic schools of thought. Which approach do you find most convincing.


About haroldchorneyeconomist

I am Professor of political economy at Concordia university in Montréal, Québec, Canada. I received my B.A.Hons (econ.&poli sci) from the University of Manitoba. I also completed my M.A. degree in economics there. Went on to spend two years at the London School of Economics as a Ph.D. student in economics and then completed my Ph.D. in political economy at the University of Toronto. Was named a John W.Dafoe fellow, a CMHC fellow and a Canada Council fellow. I also was named a Woodrow Wilson fellow in 1968 after completing my first class honours undergraduate degree. Worked as an economist in the area of education, labour economics and as the senior economist with the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation for the Government of Manitoba from 1972 to 1978. I also have worked as an economic consultant for MDT socio-economic consultants and have been consulted on urban planning, health policy, linguistic duality and public sector finance questions by the governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan,the cities of Regina and Saskatoon, Ontario and the Federal government of Canada. I have also been consulted by senior leaders of the British Labour party, MPs from the Progressive Conservative party, the Liberal party and the New Democrats on economic policy questions. Members of the Government of France under the Presidency of Francois Mitterand discussed my work on public sector deficits. I have also run for elected office at the municipal level. I first began to write about quantitative easing as a useful policy option during the early 1980s.
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