Article "Unnecessary radicalism: the limits of economic ideas in political thinking"


The article is written by Elisabeth Lindberg at the Department of Economic History, published in Scandinavian Economic History Review.

Read the article in Scandinavian Economic History Review.


This article analyses late 1960s’ and early 1970s’ policy debate on issues concerning balance of payments in Sweden. Part of this debate was the question of fiscal austerity as a tool to achieve external balance, and if it could be used without risking economic and social unrest. The aim is twofold: first to empirically shine new light on modern Swedish economic policy in a historic context. Second to theoretically explore new ways of interpreting the relationship between political thinking and economic ideas. Special focus within the second aim are the consequences of political thinking on Keynesian economic ideas as a framework of economic understanding at the time. The study is qualitative in its methods and pays attention to limits within the relationship between economic policymaking and economic expertise. The article highlights conflicting perspectives on Keynesian ideas and the heterogeneity of these perspectives among economic experts. A heterogeneity of this kind is also shown to complicate the assumed close relationship between Social Democracy and Keynesianism in a historic context. In essence, the article shows that studying policy debates in close historic detail makes for new conclusions on the development of modern economic ideas and the part political thinking plays in it.