Today's debates about economic policy often center on national prosperity. A stimulus bill will jumpstart the nation's economy. Infrastructure investments will boost the gross domestic product. Tax cuts will spur economic growth. These debates echo a shift in economic thinking that occurred in 17th-century England, when members of a rising commercial class began publishing works on trade and finance in order to influence government policy. In arguing for their preferred policies, these writers generated a new economic discourse — one that emphasized national growth and prosperity and set the stage for today's discipline of economics.
Emily Erikson, Associate Professor of Sociology at Yale and Academic Director of the Fox International Fellowship, examines this revolution in economic thinking, focusing on the years between 1570 and 1720 in her latest book, Trade and Nation: How Companies and Politics Reshaped Economic Thought. On February 24, Professor Erikson will give a virtual talk discussing her book and the rise of modern economic thought.