Hi, I'm William Milberg. I am an international trade economist. I study how globalization affects people, their jobs and wages and how global supply chains have become so important in understanding the economy. I am an institutional labor and finance economist. I use large datasets to investigate why people work when they do and how they have the wealth they have. I am a political economist with a worldly philosophy. Hi, I'm Paulo Dos Santos. I'm a mathematical political economist and a lot of my research looks into how market outcomes and capitalist economies reflect and reproduce relationships between social groups and into how we can study those connections in ways that are mathematically formal. We are happy you've chosen to join us in this course where we will be looking at the field of economics through a critical lens focused on solving problems facing humanity. The early 21st century poses great global justice and humanitarian challenges. Fifty years of globalization, market liberalization and deregulation brought us serious economic disruptions and significant increases in social and economic inequalities. Despite the big promises that market liberalization, deregulation and globalization would bring living standards in developing countries closer to those of advanced economies, many developing economies have continued to lag behind. They face a global system that subjects them to recurring financial instability and too often places things like intellectual property rights over life-saving medicines and vaccines, that is, over the material needs of their populations. Real progress in general living standards has been made over the past 30 years, only in places where governments and political institutions have found ways to intervene in their economies, either to complement or to limit the functioning of markets. Interventions like social insurance, industrial policy, large scale investments in infrastructure like high speed rail networks, effective financial regulation have helped some societies achieve outcomes that would probably have been impossible if their economies have been left to operate on market principles alone. Financial crises continue to destabilize economies and threaten to erase any little wealth ordinary people have built up. Production and supply systems have become so optimized to boost profitability that they've become highly susceptible to catastrophic disruptions when faced with anything out of the ordinary. This includes a climate disaster, a pandemic, a war. Some things we have all experienced recently. When COVID 19 hit, we found out we didn't have enough personal protective equipment and already strained private hospital system had no spare capacity to deal with the outbreak, resulting in literally thousands of preventable deaths. Since 2020, we have experienced recurring shortages of basic necessities like toilet paper, sanitary products and baby formula and strategically important goods like microchips. Finally, the emissions and extractions of our planetary industrial system continue to destabilize the world's climatic and resource systems, perhaps irreversibly so. While posing all of these difficult social and economic challenges, the early 21st century is also a time of stagnant and narrow economic thinking. Most economists today are confident that their discipline has solved most major theoretical questions. Economists tend to believe that in thinking about economic life and the challenges that face our species, we can think of economies primarily or even exclusively in terms of rational individuals interacting in markets. That in thinking about solutions to the deep challenges that we face as a species once again, we need only consider things that either complement or regulate markets or provide the correct incentives to individuals and markets, or use the standard tools of fiscal and monetary policy. We disagree because what happens outside of markets is vital to the functioning of capitalist economies, for example, the work performed in homes and communities across the world to feed, clothe, house, clean and care for people. Work that is vital to the functioning of our economies, but work that is unpaid, unrecognized and overwhelmingly performed by women. Historical legacies of slavery, colonialism and ethnic oppression continue to shape unequal economic outcomes across the world. Globalized supply chains rely and help reproduce the social vulnerability of subordinated groups across the third world. Institutions and governments exert a profound influence over a wide range of economic outcomes including innovation, infrastructure, education, financial stability and much, much more. And we disagree because another way to think about economic life draws us closer to sustaining our human civilization. We propose to expand thinking about the economy to a more political and community-based orientation that Robert Heilbroner called the worldly philosophy. We propose that economic life is more than just individuals interacting in markets. Economic thinking that embraces a worldly philosophy focuses on how societies organize and interact with the environment to produce and distribute what is needed. To understand contemporary capitalist economies we, of course, need to understand how markets function. But we also need to understand how we got where we are, history and the realities of social power, institutions and the environment shape markets and outcomes, not the other way around. We need to think more clearly about how institutions and organizations, governments, supply chains and powerful companies function to be able to think collectively about what's required to attain economic goals, such as reduced inequality, less poverty, better health, more stable housing and security in old age. The worldly philosophy goes back to thinkers like Ibn Khaldun in the 14th century in the classical contributions that became more generally influential in Europe during enlightenment and the development of capitalism. This includes the French physiocrats who pointed to the importance of understanding how economic life draws from and appropriates the fruits of the land and the planet. Adam Smith and Karl Marx, who understood that economic relations are much more than simply about market functioning. They are the foundation for all historical and social development. They also understood that profit is an appropriation from labor by capital. People like Thorsten Veblen, who understood the centrality of institutions and of cultural norms and the functioning of capitalism. Political economist like Joseph Schumpeter and John Maynard Keynes, who not only enquired into the nature of business cycles, or in other words, the alternation between boom and bust in capitalist economies, but also considered the very possibility of a capitalist future rather critically. Economic theorist Joan Robinson, who understood the inherited disadvantages workers face in relation to capitalists in market economies and many, many more people recently who have underlined the importance of deep seeded social inequities by gender, by race, by national origin, to the functioning of capitalist economies. The worldly philosophers also had very high expectations of an industrial society. They cared about human fulfillment and try to understand how we could construct societies where overwhelming material abundance eliminates want. Societies where all are free to develop their human potential to the fullest. And today we know that this goal also involves figuring out how to do all of this in ways that put us in harmony with our planet. This course is a series of discussions and exercises with two major goals. You will see how political economy and the worldly philosophers best explain key aspects of our contemporary economic life. You will have better tools than conventional approaches in economics to improve your personal lives and participate in social and political decisions. It is not an exhaustive course, no economics course is. But we hope to set you on a path of exploration about what political economy tools can do for us. We believe that their attention to history, the social significance of economic outcomes, the development and functioning of institutions, our relationship to our environment and how social power and inequalities shape economic outcomes are indispensable as we try to understand today's economy and as we face the many challenges it poses, we strive to do that in ways that are equitable, sustainable and conducive to maximum fulfillment of every human being in our world. In this first introductory module we'll frame our discussions by taking up three foundational questions and concerns of political economy. What fundamental economic problems face every society? What are the different ways in which they've been managed across human history? What are the outcomes and conflicts between groups of people that those resolutions have presented? Two, what exactly is the proper subject of economic analysis, individuals and markets, national economies, or the evolving socioeconomic system we call capitalism. Finally, what is the role of social power and subordination and of institutions in the functioning of markets and of the economic systems that rely on them? Please enjoy and learn from the course. We will be with you on your journey into economics.