Alfred Eichner

Alfred Eichner

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Alfred Eichner was an American post-Keynesian economist
An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

 who challenged the neo-classical price mechanism
Pricing is the process of determining what a company will receive in exchange for its products. Pricing factors are manufacturing cost, market place, competition, market condition, and quality of product. Pricing is also a key variable in microeconomic price allocation theory. Pricing is a...

 and asserted that prices are not set through supply and demand
Supply and demand
Supply and demand is an economic model of price determination in a market. It concludes that in a competitive market, the unit price for a particular good will vary until it settles at a point where the quantity demanded by consumers will equal the quantity supplied by producers , resulting in an...

 but rather through mark-up pricing
Markup (business)
Markup is the difference between the cost of a good or service and its selling price. A markup is added on to the total cost incurred by the producer of a good or service in order to create a profit. The total cost reflects the total amount of both fixed and variable expenses to produce and...


Eichner, is considered a prominent member of the post-Keynesian school of economics and was a professor at Rutgers University at the time of his death. Eichner's writings and advocacy of thought, differed with the theories of John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes of Tilton, CB FBA , was a British economist whose ideas have profoundly affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, as well as the economic policies of governments...

, who was an advocate of government intervention in the free market
Free market
A free market is a competitive market where prices are determined by supply and demand. However, the term is also commonly used for markets in which economic intervention and regulation by the state is limited to tax collection, and enforcement of private ownership and contracts...

 and proponent of public spending to increase employment. Eichner argued that investment was the key to economic expansion. He was considered an advocate of the concept that government incomes policy
Incomes policy
Incomes policies in economics are economy-wide wage and price controls, most commonly instituted as a response to inflation, and usually below market level.Incomes policies have often been resorted to during wartime...

  should prevent inflationary wage and price settlements in connection to the customary fiscal and monetary means of regulating the economy.

He is noted for his book Toward a new economics: essays in post-Keynesian and institutionalist theoryHis Macrodynamics of Advanced Market Economies contains chapters on dynamics and growth, investment, finance and income distribution.

Life and work

Eichner was born in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, in the United States. He received his doctorate in economics from Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

. He taught at Columbia from 1962 until 1971. Later he taught at SUNY Purchase (1971-1980), and then joined the Rutgers University
Rutgers University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey , is the largest institution for higher education in New Jersey, United States. It was originally chartered as Queen's College in 1766. It is the eighth-oldest college in the United States and one of the nine Colonial colleges founded before the American...


Some books edited by Eichner include A Guide to Post-Keynesian Economics, Why Economics Is Not Yet a Science, and The Macrodynamics of Advanced Market Economies. Eichner testified before Congressional and other legislative committees

Historian of culture and of economics

Together with Eli Ginsberg, a professor of economics at Columbia, Eichner authored an economic history of African Americans, The Troublesome Presence: The American Democracy and the Negro, published in 1964.

These co-authors wrote that... “of the several million persons who reached Great Britain’s North American colonies before 1776, it is conservatively estimated that close to 80 percent arrived under some form of servitude.”

The science of economics?

Some mainstream
Mainstream is, generally, the common current thought of the majority. However, the mainstream is far from cohesive; rather the concept is often considered a cultural construct....

 economists have argued that assumptions about the character of economic reality in the neoclassical economic paradigm are fundamentally flawed. Points arguably making a convincing case that the mathematical theories used by neoclassical economists cannot be viewed as scientific have consistently been made by trained economists. Alfred Eichner in Why Economics Is Not Yet a Science offers the following commentary on the discipline of economics as a social system:

....'The refusal to abandon the myth of the market as a self-regulating system is not the result of a conspiracy on the part of the “establishment” in economics. It is not even a choice that any individual economist is necessarily aware of making. Rather it is the way economics operates as a social system—including the way new members of the establishment are selected—retaining its place within the larger society by perpetuating a set of ideas which have been found useful by that society, however dysfunctional the same set of ideas may be from a scientific understanding of how the economic system works. In other words, economics is unwilling to adhere to the epistemological principles which distinguish scientific from other types of intellectual activity because this might jeopardize the position of economists within the larger society as the defender of the dominant faith. This situation in which economists find themselves is therefore not unlike that of many natural scientists who, when faced with mounting evidence in support of first, the Copernican theory of the universe and then, later, the Darwinian theory of evolution, had to decide whether undermining the revelatory basis of Judeo-Christian ethics was not too great a price to pay for being able to reveal the