G. L. S. Shackle 101: A Pioneer of Post-Keynesian Economics
Zatrun Published at October 23, 2023

G. L. S. Shackle was one of the most original and influential economists of the 20th century. His work challenged the mainstream neoclassical and Keynesian paradigms and offered a radical alternative based on uncertainty, expectations, and choice. If you are interested in learning more about him, check out the subtitles on this article.

Who is G. L. S. Shackle?

G. L. S. Shackle was born in 1903 in Cambridge, England. He studied economics at the London School of Economics and later became a lecturer there. He also taught at the University of Liverpool and the University of Cambridge, where he was a close colleague of Joan Robinson and Nicholas Kaldor.

Shackle’s main contribution to economics was his theory of uncertainty and expectations. He argued that the future is fundamentally unknowable and that economic agents form their expectations based on their imagination and creativity. He rejected the idea that expectations are rational or based on objective probabilities, as assumed by neoclassical and Keynesian economists.

G. L. S. Shackle also developed a theory of choice based on his concept of “potential surprise”. He claimed that economic agents choose among alternative courses of action by comparing their expected utility with the degree of surprise that each action would entail. The more surprising an action is, the more attractive it is, because it offers a higher chance of discovering new possibilities.

Shackle’s work had a profound impact on post-Keynesian economics, a heterodox school of thought that emerged after the Second World War. Post-Keynesian economists adopted Shackle’s insights on uncertainty, expectations and choice and applied them to various topics such as money, investment, growth, income distribution and macroeconomic policy.

Shackle and His Legacy

Shackle’s works influenced other fields of economics and social sciences, such as behavioural economics, evolutionary economics, institutional economics, and complexity theory. Several Nobel laureates have recognized his ideas, such as Herbert Simon, James Buchanan, Amartya Sen and Daniel Kahneman.

Shackle died in 1992 at the age of 89. He left behind a rich legacy of books and articles that continue to inspire and challenge economists and scholars around the world. He was a pioneer of post-Keynesian economics and a visionary thinker who dared to question the conventional wisdom and explore the unknown.

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