Monthly Archives: October 2020

Greg Forster on Economics, Theology, and Keynesian Thought

In this episode, Steven McMullen interviews Greg Forster about two recent books that he has published. Greg is a political philosopher by training, but his work has spanned history, theology, economics, and political theory. He is the director of the Oikonomia Network, an organization that helps Christians think about theology and work. He is the author of a number of books and is also an assistant professor of faith and culture at Trinity International University.

As you will see as we talk, Greg is skeptical of the naturalistic or materialist framing that we economists often use in our work. That doesn’t mean that he wants to get rid of modern economics, though, he draws heavily and appreciatively on the work of social scientists in his writing and is a particular fan of the economics discipline.

Over the course of our conversation about his recent books, we talk about the kinds of theological themes that show up in the work of economists, the importance of history, the nature of political ideology, Keynesian thought, and consumerism.

Links to items mentioned in this podcast:

Economics: A Student’s Guide, Crossway, 2019 (Faith & Economics Review by Ken Elzinga)

The Keynesian Revolution and Our Empty Economy: We’re All Dead, written with Victor Claar, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019 (Review Symposium in Faith & Economics)

Video introducing the Oikonomia Network 

Oikonomia Network Website

Reckoning with Markets: Moral Reflection in Economics, by James Halteman and Edd Noell, Oxford Univ. Press, 2012.

McMullen, Steven, and Todd P. Steen. “Does Current Economic Methodology Impose a Materialistic View of Work? Journal of Markets and Morality, 2017

Greg’s latest book Human Flourishing: Economic Wisdom For a Fruitful Christian Vision of the Good Life (Wipf and Stock, 2020)

A Conversation about ACE

This episode is an introduction to the Association of Christian Economists. We talk about the history of the organization, including some of the big conversations that have animated scholars over the last 40 years, and a bit about what the Association is doing today.

The guests are Edd Noell, current president of ACE, and Michael Anderson, our past president.

Edd Noell is a professor of economics at Westmont College, and specializes in the history of economic thought, labor market regulation, and Christian thought about economics. He is a longtime member and leader in the association of Christian Economists and has served on the editorial board of Faith & Economics, including as the book review editor for 22 years. He is the current president of ACE.

Michael Anderson is the Robert E. Sadler, Jr. Professor of economics and associate dean of the Williams School at Washington and Lee University. He specializes in international economics and trade. Also a longtime ACE member and contributor, Michael is a member of the editorial board of Faith & Economics was president of ACE from 2015 to 2018.

At one or two points in this conversation, we reference some of the debates that took place between economists in the association about the posture that Christian economists should have toward NeoClassical economic methodology. The best place to start to understand those conversations is the Spring 1994 issue of Faith & Economics (https://christianeconomists.org/1994/06/28/faith-economics-spring-1994/).

We also reference Paul Oslington’s recent article critiquing Kuyperian economics, from the most recent issue, the article is currently available only to members.

Scott Cunningham on the Economics of Prostitution

This episode features an interview with Scott Cunningham about markets for prostitution and his book on causal inference.

Cunningham is a thoughtful scholar working at the cutting edge of empirical microeconomics. He is a professor of economics at Baylor University, a research fellow at the Texas Hunger Initiative and at the Computational Justice Lab. He is also an associate editor at the Journal of Human Resources. He is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook on the Economics of Prostitution, and as we discuss, the author of Causal Inference: The Mixtape, forthcoming from Yale University Press.

Our conversation covers his research on the changing technology of prostitution markets, the difficulty regulating these markets, and some discussion about what a Christian response should look like. We also discuss his forthcoming textbook, Causal Inference: The Mixtape.

Scott Cunningham’s Website, which includes links to the papers we discuss in the episode. (https://www.scunning.com/)

The free early version of his causal inference textbook. (https://www.scunning.com/mixtape.html)

The website for Causal Inference: The Mixtape at Yale University Press, available for order in January 2021. (https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300251685/causal-inference)

Stephen Smith on China

This episode features Stephen Smith from Hope College. Smith talks about the place of China in the global economy, U.S. policy toward China, changes in Chinese governance, and the Chinese church. Smith grew up in Hong Kong and has visited China numerous times in adulthood, often traveling with undergraduate students. He is a close observer of Chinese politics, economics, and culture. With all of the China-related news over the last year, it seemed like a great time to corner Stephen and get his perspective on a whole range of related questions.

As a scholar, Smith specializes in international trade, growth, and development.  He is also a leader in the Association of Christian Economists, currently serving as Vice President.

Stephen Smith’s Hope College webpage. (https://hope.edu/directory/people/smith-stephen/index.html)

Economic Growth: Unleashing the Potential of Human Flourishing, by Stephen Smith, Edd Noell, and Bruce Webb. (AEI Press, 2013) (https://www.amazon.com/Economic-Growth-Unleashing-Flourishing-Capitalism/dp/0844772569/)

Over the course of our conversation we referenced the following:

A Republic of Equals by Jonathan Rothwell (Princeton, 2019)

“A Letter from Hong Kong” by Peter Baehr (Quillette, 9/3/2016) (https://quillette.com/2019/09/03/a-letter-from-hong-kong/)

2020 Association of Christian Economists (UK) Meeting

On Thursday 12th of November 2020 at 1pm (GMT / London time) the Association of Christian Economists (UK) will meet to hear four distinguished speakers and discuss the following topic:

How can Christian economists respond to the economic and societal landscape revealed and altered by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Please register for this meeting here.

12th November 2020

7-8am (Chicago)
1-2pm (GMT: London)
0-1am (Melbourne / Sydney) 
Join the following speakers:

Julie Schaffner (The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, USA)

Andrew Dilnot (Nuffield College, Oxford, UK)

Paul Oslington (Alphacrucis College, Australia)

Robert Tatum (UNC Asheville, USA) A copy of the programme is included below.