The morality of markets

NYU Stern Economics

I had the misfortune a few years back to be thrown into a public debate about whether markets are moral. The question never made sense to me. Markets are tools, like hammers, you can use them for good or ill. As John Leahy told me: “Markets don’t kill people, guns do.” I wrote the experience up as a mini-case (read it, please!) and went on with my life.

Well, I just ran across a much more sophisticated version of the same issue, and it’s terrific. Greg Mankiw supplies three wonderful links to a series of lectures by his colleague Michael Sandel and comments on them by two economists. As you might expect if you know the principals, economist and provocateur Deirdre McCloskey gets in the best licks. I recommend the whole thing.

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