Professor Rae introduces the concept of capital as accumulated wealth used to produce more wealth. Questions about what constitutes capital are posed and discussed. The biggest story in recent economic history is the substitution of labor intensive production to capital intensive production. This transition, and the various speeds and scales with which it has occurred in different places at different times, has generated large income disparities around the world. Characteristics of capitalism are presented and discussed.
Clark, Farewell to Alms, "The Sixteen Page Economic History of the World," pp. 1-16.
In this course, we will seek to interpret capitalism using ideas from biological evolution: firms pursuing varied strategies and facing extinction when those strategies fail are analogous to organisms struggling for survival in nature. For this reason, it is less concerned with ultimate judgment of capitalism than with the ways it can be shaped to fit our more specific objectives – for the natural environment, public health, alleviation of poverty, and development of human potential in every child. Each book we read will be explicitly or implicitly an argument about good and bad consequences of capitalism.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was videotaped for Open Yale Courses in Fall 2009.