The great and good of economics have responded to an NSF call for ‘grand challenges‘ in economic research over the coming 20 years, and I can’t help wondering if the history of economics has any? No out-and-out historian appears to have replied, and none of the other authors seem to include historical topics. So are there no grand challenges in history?
Off the cuff I can’t think of a BIG question which lies unanswered, and I wonder what everyone here thinks? My immediate response would be that historians of economics should engage in a project to gather and make publicly available historical data – as recorded in past records, not translated into 21st century definitions – so that better empirical work can be done on the past. I guess a second point is a fuller exploration of the recent crisis and comparisons with past crises, although I am not sure how far such an endeavor could go. If one had to respond to the NSF call – in retrospect – what do you think the grand challenges would be?
For inspiration about the scope, In the NSF response Esther Duflo outlines a research agenda for all of development economics, Dale Jorgenson talks of reforming the national accounts, Nordhaus discusses global public goods and Rogoff talks of three challenges to Macro… So it’s BIG thoughts as we enter the new year – do we historians (of economics) still think those?
[Clement makes a set of suggestions below, and I have tweaked this posts to put it on top. Hope that is ok]