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Humanomics: Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations for the Twenty-First Century

Cambridge University Press - 2019Humanomics

While neoclassical analysis works well for studying impersonal exchange in markets, it fails to explain why people conduct themselves the way they do in their personal relationships with family, neighbors, and friends. In Humanomics, Nobel Prize-winning economist Vernon L. Smith and his long-time co-author Bart J. Wilson bring their study of economics full circle by returning to the founder of modern economics, Adam Smith. Sometime in the last 250 years, economists lost sight of the full range of human feeling, thinking, and knowing in everyday life. Smith and Wilson show how Adam Smith's model of sociality can re-humanize twenty-first century economics by undergirding it with sentiments, fellow feeling, and a sense of propriety - the stuff of which human relationships are built. Integrating insights from The Theory of Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations into contemporary empirical analysis, this book shapes economic betterment as a science of human beings.

A Life of Experimental Economics, Volume II: The Next Fifty Years

Palgrave Macmillan - 2018 Image result for A Life of Experimental Economics, Volume II The Next Fifty Years

This sequel to A Life of Experimental Economics, Volume I, continues the intimate history of Vernon Smith’s personal and professional maturation after a dozen years at Purdue. The scene now shifts to twenty-six transformative years at the University of Arizona, then to George Mason University, and his recognition by the Nobel Prize Committee in 2002.  The book ends with his most recent decade at Chapman University.

At Arizona Vernon and his students studied asset trading markets and learned how wrong it had been to suppose that price bubbles could not occur where markets were full-information transparent. Their work in computerization of the lab facilitated very complex supply and demand experiments in natural gas pipeline, communication and electricity markets that paved the way for implementing, through decentralized market processes, the liberalization of industries traditionally believed to be “natural” monopolies. The “Smart Computer Assisted Market” was born. Smith’s move to George Mason University greatly facilitated government and industry work in tandem with various public and private entities, whereas his relocation to Chapman University coincided with the Great Recession, whose similarity with the Depression was evident in his research. There he integrated two fundamental kinds of markets with laboratory experiments: Consumer non-durables, the supply and demand for which was stable in the lab and in the economy, and durable assets whose bubble tendencies made them unstable in the lab as well as in the economy—witness the great housing-mortgage market bubble run-up of 1997-2007.

This book’s conversational style and emphasis on the backstory of published research accomplishments allows readers an exclusive peak into how and why economists pursue their work. It’s a must-read for those interested in experimental economics, the housing crisis, and economic history.

A Life of Experimental Economics, Volume I: Forty Years of Discovery

Palgrave MacMillan - 2018Image result for A Life of Experimental Economics, Volume i forty years

This book provides an intimate history of Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith’s early life, combining elements of biography, history, economics and philosophy to show how crucial incidents early in his life provided the necessary framework for his research into experimental economics. Smith takes the reader from his family roots on the railroads and oil fields of Middle America to his early life on a farm in Depression-wracked Kansas. A mediocre student in high school, Smith attended Friends University, on Wichita’s west side, where an intense study of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and astronomy enabled him to pass the examinations to enter Caltech and study under luminary scientists like Linus Pauling. Eventually Smith discovered economics and pursued graduate study in the field at University of Kansas and Harvard. This volume ends with his Camelot years at Purdue, where he began his famous work in experimental economics, nurturing his research into an unlikely new field of economics.