Welcome to the Mixtape with Scott episode 38 of season 2! By my calculations, there have been 72 total episodes in the Mixtape with Scott podcast — 34 episodes in season 1, 38 this year. What better way to celebrate episode 72 (38) than with Dr. Andreu Mas-Colell from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain!
If you’re an economist, then you know Dr. Mas-Colell if for no other reason than that his book with Greene and Whinston taught you microeconomics in grad school. If you’re looking for a replacement copy of the textbook to put on your shelf, click here. I wanted to interview Dr. Mas-Colell for a lot of reasons. First, because his book probably unites us all because we all had to take the micro preliminary exam, we all had to use that book for our classes, and many of us depended on it for our livelihoods so we could pass those classes. So in a way, that’s not Mas-Colell’s book — that’s our book too. So I thought that given the podcast is about both the personal stories of economists but also an effort to tell “our story” as economists of the last 50 years, just like I interviewed Bill Greene, the author of a popular textbook in econometrics a few months ago, I wanted to also interview Dr. Mas-Colell. But Dr. Mas-Colell is also an important figure in the history of microeconomic theory and I also wanted those of you whose heroes are theorists to hear his journey, as I know oftentimes the podcast is nearly exclusively conversations with empiricists of various stripes with some exceptions.
Dr. Mas-Colell is also, I think, an inspiration to someone who has lived a life defined by his own personal integrity. I think many economists, young and old, but also non-economists too, will be inspired to hear his story of being someone who cared deeply about democracy in the shadow of a dictatorship and the willingness to continue to incur real personal costs for the sake of the body politic. Any day now, we will hear the conclusion to a case dating back to June 2021 when Spain's Court of Auditors found that he was among those responsible for government expenditure on the unconstitutional 2017 Catalan independence referendum. Spain’s courts announced its intention to fine Dr. Mas-Colell millions of euros. This led to a public outcry from the international community of economists two summers ago. The final verdict will be announced, Dr. Mas-Colell says in this interview, probably in the middle of this month.
It’s another long interview, and I want to give you a little warning ahead of time. I am not a micro theorist, which you probably guessed. I was surprised, nonetheless, by how little I remembered about the names of economists and departments and how the full history of micro theory fit together. As such, I know I left a ton of opportunities unrealized on the table. But I knew going into it that I was really not going to be able to have more than superficial understandings of the sociological history of micro theory as it had been too long. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I left some money on the ground I’m sure. But it was a huge life lived, and I really just was wanting to hear as much as I could in what amounted to still a two hour interview. So I hope you enjoy and find this podcast interview inspiring and interesting and helpful as you continue to try and navigate your own life, and your own place in the story of economics.
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