Complex Economies, Simple Economics: How New Research is Challenging Conventional Economic Policy

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 -
9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
1250 Eye Street, NW, Suite 200 Room 2
Washington, DC, DC 20005
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If the tectonic economic events of the last few months have shown us anything it’s that many of the core assumptions embedded in the prevailing neoclassical economic doctrine that drives much of Washington’s thinking on economic policy are no longer valid. Moreover, recent theoretical and empirical work has called into question the core tenants of the neo-classical doctrine—that markets are stable, are driven by rational actors responding solely to price signals, and require little role for government in driving growth. Indeed, this new work, much of it based in the fields of behavioral economics and complexity theory, have shown that economic systems act less like well-structured systems in equilibrium and more like chaotic, complex systems whose outcomes are unstable and can vary widely based on seemingly minor changes.

Please join us for an event to discuss this new research and its implications for economic policy, including economic regulation. ITIF President Rob Atkinson will discuss his article in The Democracy Journal which reviews two leading books on the topic: Michael Heller’s The Gridlock Economy : How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives and Eric Beinhocker’s The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics. Atkinson will be joined by two leading technology industry representatives, Rick Whitt of Google and Marc Berejka of Microsoft, both of whom have written provocative new work on the role of complexity in shaping our thinking about regulation. In addition, Robert Axtell, External Professor, Santa fe Institute and Professor and Chair, George Mason University, Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, and one of the world’s leading scholars on complexity theory, and author of new research on the role of complex networks in driving innovation, will provide comments.

Robert D. Atkinson
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Marc Berejka
Senior Director, Technology Policy and Strategy
Richard Whitt
Washington Telecom and Media Counsel
Robert Axtell
Professor and Chair
George Mason University