ECON5319 Political Economy of Capitalism - 2019

Term 3
6 Units of Credit
On Campus
The course outline is not available for current semester. To view outlines from other years and/or semesters, visit the archives .

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

The economy can be understood in many different ways. The course examines alternative paradigms in economics, and considers how they analyse the economy. This enables different interpretations of recent events. We will consider various schools of thought such as the Post-Keynesians, Institutionalists, Marxist or Austrians schools. Topics include how prices are determined, labour markets, money and finance with a strong emphasis on economic policy.

Teaching Times and Locations

Please note that teaching times and locations are subject to change. Students are strongly advised to refer to the Class Timetable website for the most up-to-date teaching times and locations.

View course timetable

Course Policies & Support

Course Aims and Relationship to Other Courses

​This course examines various political economy approaches to the analysis of economics, mainly associated with Marxian, Post Keynesian and Institutional Schools of thought. These may be regarded as the main alternatives to neoclassical economic theory. As they do not represent a unified body of thought, the course will survey the main contributions, focusing especially on the positive aspects of theory with some regard to the critique of neo-classical theory. In this way the course may be seen as providing critiques and alternatives to other courses.

2. Staff Contact Details

Position Title Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Lecturer-in-chargeAProfPeter KrieslerRoom 445, UNSW Business School+61 2 9385 3373Tuesday and Thursday 2.00-3.00 pm and by appointment
TutorDrNeil HartRoom 436, UNSW Business School+61 2 9385 7019Wednesday 4.00 – 6.00 and Thursday 12.00-1.00

Communication with staff

​You should feel free to contact your lecturer(s) about any academic matter. However, I strongly encourage, for efficiency, all enquiries about the subject material be made at lectures or tutorials or during consultation time. Discussion of course subject material will not be entered into via lengthy emails.

Email correspondence on administrative matters (e.g. advising inability to attend tutorial) will be responded to within 48 hours, but not over weekends. Please note that the lecturer has no advance notice of the date and time of the exam [the subject of many emails].

3. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

​The philosophy underpinning this course and its Teaching and Learning Strategies are based on “Guidelines on Learning that Inform Teaching at UNSW". Specifically, the lectures, tutorials and assessment have been designed to appropriately challenge students and support the achievement of the desired learning outcomes. A climate of inquiry and dialogue is encouraged between students and teachers and among students (in and out of class). The lecturers and tutors aim to provide meaningful and timely feedback to students to improve learning outcomes.

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

​The examinable content of the course is defined by the references given in the Lecture Schedule, the content of Lectures, and the content of the Tutorial Program.


The purpose of Lectures is to provide a logical structure for the topics that make up the course; to emphasize the important concepts and methods of each topic, and to provide relevant examples to which the concepts and methods are applied.


Tutorials are an integral part of the subject. Tutorial presentations will build on the material discussed in class with the lecturer.

Out-of-Class Study

While students may have preferred individual learning strategies, it is important to note that most learning will be achieved outside of class time. Lectures can only provide a structure to assist your study, and tutorial time is limited. An “ideal” strategy (on which the provision of the course materials is based) might include:

  • Reading of the relevant chapter(s) of the text and any readings before the lecture. This will give you a general idea of the topic area.
  • Attendance at lectures. Here the context of the topic in the course and the important elements of the topic are identified. The relevance of the topic should be explained.
  • Attending tutorials and attempting the tutorial questions.
  • Completing the Moodle Module on Academic Misconduct.

5. Course Resources

The website for this course is on UNSW Moodle.

Students are expected to:

  • Make sure that they are officially enrolled in the correct course
  • Familiarize themselves with Moodle
  • Access this site at least weekly as the site will contain important announcements about the course, as well as lecture notes and tutorial solutions. In addition, it will carry most of the subject information, as well as a discussion forum where students will be able to discuss course related materials, as well as trial exam questions. It will be assumed that all students have seen any notice posted on the course website.

There is no set textbook for this course, given the range of topics being covered. Instead, each week a number of suggested references will be listed as recommended reading for the lecture topic. Further guidance will be given during lectures.

The following provide relevant readings, and will be useful for the course:

  • HP: Holt, R. and Pressman, S. (eds.) (2001) A New Guide to Post Keynesian Economics (London: Routledge).
  • HK: Harcourt, G. and Kriesler, P. (eds.) , The Oxford Handbook of Post-Keynesian Economics. 2 Volumes (Oxford University Press, 2013).
  • JK: King, J. (ed.) (2003, 2012) The Elgar Companion to Post Keynesian Economics (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar), First and Second Editions.
  • JK2: King, J. (2015) Advanced Introduction to Post Keynesian Economics (Cheltenham, Edward Elgar).
  • ML: Lavoie, M. (2009) Introduction to Post-Keynesian Economics (Cheltenham, Edward Elgar).
  • ML2: Lavoie, M. (2014) Post-Keynesian Economics (Cheltenham, Edward Elgar).
  • HHKN1: Halevi,J., Harcourt , G.C. Kriesler, P. and Nevile. J. (2016) Post-Keynesian Essays from Down Under Volume I: Essays on Keynes, Harrod and Kalecki: Theory and Policy in an Historical Context Palgrave Macmillan ISBN-10: 1137475374
  • HHKN2: Halevi,J., Harcourt , G.C. Kriesler, P. and Nevile. J. (2016) Post-Keynesian Essays from Down Under Volume II: Essays on Policy and Applied Economics: Theory and Policy in an Historical Context Palgrave Macmillan ISBN-10: 113747534X
  • HHKN3: Halevi,J., Harcourt , G.C. Kriesler, P. and Nevile. J. (2016) Post-Keynesian Essays from Down Under Volume III: Essays on Ethics, Social Justice and Economics: Theory and Policy in an Historical Context Palgrave Macmillan ISBN-10: 1137475315
  • HHKN4:Halevi,J., Harcourt , G.C. Kriesler, P. and Nevile. J. (2016) Post-Keynesian Essays from Down Under Volume IV: Essays on Theory: Theory and Policy in an Historical Context Palgrave Macmillan ISBN-10: 1137475285 A good introductory book is:
  • JS Stanford, J. (2015 2nd ad) Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism, Pluto Press: London

Full text access for these eBooks is now available in SearchFirst (UNSW Library).

Detailed references are provided in the course outline for the semester, which follows, but students should also refer to recent issues of the following academic journals: Cambridge Journal of Economics; Journal of Economic Issues, Journal of PostKeynesian Economics; Review of Political Economy, and Review of Keynesian Economics.

In addition, the Economics and Labour Relations Review and the Journal of Australian Political Economy often include articles that are related to topics and themes covered in this course which are relevant to the Australian economy.

Students should also access the World Economic Association , launched in 2011. This association publishes Real-World Economics Review, a particularly useful source of commentary on economic policy and theory debates.

The website has information on many of the major figures of Political Economy.

There are also many links to original sources in the history of economic.

6. Course Evaluation & Development

Feedback is regularly sought from students and continual improvements are made based on this feedback. At the end of this course, you will be asked to complete the myExperience survey, which provides a key source of student evaluative feedback. Your input into this quality enhancement process is extremely valuable in assisting us to meet the needs of our students and provide an effective and enriching learning experience. The results of all surveys are carefully considered and do lead to action towards enhancing educational quality.

7. Course Schedule

Note: for more information on the UNSW academic calendar and key dates including study period, exam, supplementary exam and result release, please visit:
Week Activity Topic Assessment/Other
Week 1: 16th September

Introduction: What Is This Thing Called “Political Economy”? : Marxian Approaches to Economics



Week 2: 23rd September

Marx and The Keynesian Legacy

There is no tutorial presentation question set for week 2; questions will be allocated to students during this tutorial.

Question. For Discussion

What are your views on the criticisms of conventional economics presented in the Cross paper?

Week 3: 30th September

Keynes and Kalecki's Contribution: Pricing, Distribution and Output

Discussion Question:

“In pre-Keynesian theory ( and in modern economics) there is a widespread belief in the self-equilibrating mechanisms of economic markets, particularly the labour market. Keynes argued that there is no such mechanisms, so that unemployment, far from being a temporary aberration, was the likely outcome.”

Discuss, paying particular attention to how each explained the determination of the level of employment and output.

Tutorial Question

Explain how Marx’s theory of crisis is relevant to contemporary capitalism.

Week 4 : 7th October

Post-Keynesian Economics: Central Themes and the Critique of Mainstream Economics: Method and Methodology

Discussion Question:

“[A]ccording to Kalecki, the development of oligopoly as the general structure of the industrial sectors of modern capitalist economies has profound implications for the operation of the economic system.' In particular, he argued that the influence of monopolistic elements, on the pricing decisions of entrepreneurs, is important for problems relating to the realization of the surplus (i.e. with problems of effective demand).” (Halevi and Kriesler)

How, according to Kalecki, does the development of oligopoly influence the economic system?

Tutorial Question

Compare and contrast Keynes and Kalecki’s explanations of how the financial system works, and of its role in determining output and employment.

Week 5 : 14th October

Alternate Theories of Pricing

Discussion Question:

“I accuse the classical economic theory of being itself one of those petty techniques which tries to deal with the present by abstracting from the fact that we know very little about the future.” Keynes

What did Keynes mean by this, and what is its significance for political economy?

Tutorial Question

“Post-Keynesian economists see the development of the economy as being a historical process, with the unchangeable past influencing the present, with the future being inherently uncertain. This means that path determinacy involving historical time is central to their analysis, so that, to explain the current or future position of an economy, it is vital to know its history, how it came to be there. With historical time, time and events only move in one direction, so that what happens today is vitally dependent on what has happened previously.” (Hart and Kriesler)

Explain the significance of this statement


Week 6 : 21st October

Midsession Test During Thursday Lecture Time– no lectures or tutorials this week. Please note location: Webster Theatre B



Week 7: 28th October

Labour and Unemployment and Money and Finance

Discussion Question:

“Because prices do not, from a [political economy] perspective, coordinate economic activity nor make economic activity happen, their theoretical role in a going economy has to be located elsewhere. In particular, prices are the primary mechanism through which business enterprises obtain their income to continue as a going enterprise. Therefore post-Keynesian price theory is concerned with explaining how the prices set by enterprises are going concern prices; how going concern prices are established at the level of the market where enterprises have to engage in competition; and what is the role of the price system in the economy.” Fred Lee

Discuss, paying particular attention to the way in which prices are determined, and with the role of the pricing system in the economy.


Tutorial Question

Prices, according to political economists, are determined in a different way, and serve a different purpose than they do for mainstream economics. Compare and contrast these differences, focusing on the political economy critique of mainstream pricing theory.


Week 8: 4th November

Money and The Political Economy of Macroeconomic Policy

Discussion Question:

“Labour is not a commodity, it behaves very differently, depending on social and institutional factors.”

In what ways are these differences manifested?

Tutorial Question

How are real wages and employment determined in political economy

Week 9: 11th November

The Global Economic Crisis

Discussion Question:

Outline the central themes contained in Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis. Assess the extent to which this hypothesis is of relevance to developing an understanding of current financial instability in developed capitalist economies.

Tutorial Question

Explain why for political economists money and finance are important both in the long run and the short run as determinants of the level of economic activity. In what ways does this differ from the conventional treatment?

Week 10: 18th November

Discussion Question:

“So here’s what I think economists have to do. First, they have to face up to the inconvenient reality that financial markets fall far short of perfection, that they are subject to extraordinary delusions and the madness

of crowds. Second, they have to admit — and this will be very hard for the people who giggled and whispered over Keynes — that Keynesian economics remains the best framework we have for making sense of recessions and depressions. Third, they’ll have to do their best to incorporate the realities of finance into macroeconomics … When it comes to the all-too-human problem of recessions and depressions, economists

need to abandon the neat but wrong solution of assuming that everyone is rational and markets work perfectly.” (Krugman 2009: 8)


Tutorial Question

‘The question to be addressed is whether discretionary fiscal policy can and also should be used to help stabilize the economy.’

Consider critically the traditional arguments that are opposed to the application of discretionary fiscal policy, together with the political economy counterarguments. What are the ‘political constraints’ on the usage of discretionary fiscal policy to achieve and maintain full employment in modern capitalist economies? Relate your discussion to the stance of fiscal policy in the post-GFC period


8. Policies and Support

Information about UNSW Business School protocols, University policies, student responsibilities and education quality and support.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Business School places knowledge and capabilities at the core of its curriculum via seven Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs). These PLOs are systematically embedded and developed across the duration of all coursework programs in the Business School.

PLOs embody the knowledge, skills and capabilities that are taught, practised and assessed within each Business School program. They articulate what you should know and be able to do upon successful completion of your degree.

Upon graduation, you should have a high level of specialised business knowledge and capacity for responsible business thinking, underpinned by ethical professional practice. You should be able to harness, manage and communicate business information effectively and work collaboratively with others. You should be an experienced problem-solver and critical thinker, with a global perspective, cultural competence and the potential for innovative leadership.

All UNSW programs and courses are designed to assess the attainment of program and/or course level learning outcomes, as required by the UNSW Assessment Design Procedure. It is important that you become familiar with the Business School PLOs, as they constitute the framework which informs and shapes the components and assessments of the courses within your program of study.

PLO 1: Business knowledge

Students will make informed and effective selection and application of knowledge in a discipline or profession, in the contexts of local and global business.

PLO 2: Problem solving

Students will define and address business problems, and propose effective evidence-based solutions, through the application of rigorous analysis and critical thinking.

PLO 3: Business communication

Students will harness, manage and communicate business information effectively using multiple forms of communication across different channels.

PLO 4: Teamwork

Students will interact and collaborate effectively with others to achieve a common business purpose or fulfil a common business project, and reflect critically on the process and the outcomes.

PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Students will develop and be committed to responsible business thinking and approaches, which are underpinned by ethical professional practice and sustainability considerations.

PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

Students will be aware of business systems in the wider world and actively committed to recognise and respect the cultural norms, beliefs and values of others, and will apply this knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively in diverse environments.

PLO 7: Leadership development

Students will develop the capacity to take initiative, encourage forward thinking and bring about innovation, while effectively influencing others to achieve desired results.

These PLOs relate to undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs.  Separate PLOs for honours and postgraduate research programs are included under 'Related Documents'.

Business School course outlines provide detailed information for students on how the course learning outcomes, learning activities, and assessment/s contribute to the development of Program Learning Outcomes.



UNSW Graduate Capabilities

The Business School PLOs also incorporate UNSW graduate capabilities, a set of generic abilities and skills that all students are expected to achieve by graduation. These capabilities articulate the University’s institutional values, as well as future employer expectations.

UNSW Graduate CapabilitiesBusiness School PLOs
Scholars capable of independent and collaborative enquiry, rigorous in their analysis, critique and reflection, and able to innovate by applying their knowledge and skills to the solution of novel as well as routine problems.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Entrepreneurial leaders capable of initiating and embracing innovation and change, as well as engaging and enabling others to contribute to change
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Professionals capable of ethical, self-directed practice and independent lifelong learning
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Global citizens who are culturally adept and capable of respecting diversity and acting in a socially just and responsible way.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

While our programs are designed to provide coverage of all PLOs and graduate capabilities, they also provide you with a great deal of choice and flexibility.  The Business School strongly advises you to choose a range of courses that assist your development against the seven PLOs and four graduate capabilities, and to keep a record of your achievements as part of your portfolio. You can use a portfolio as evidence in employment applications as well as a reference for work or further study. For support with selecting your courses contact the UNSW Business School Student Centre.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Academic Integrity is honest and responsible scholarship. This form of ethical scholarship is highly valued at UNSW. Terms like Academic Integrity, misconduct, referencing, conventions, plagiarism, academic practices, citations and evidence based learning are all considered basic concepts that successful university students understand. Learning how to communicate original ideas, refer sources, work independently, and report results accurately and honestly are skills that you will be able to carry beyond your studies.

The definition of academic misconduct is broad. It covers practices such as cheating, copying and using another person’s work without appropriate acknowledgement. Incidents of academic misconduct may have serious consequences for students.


UNSW regards plagiarism as a form of academic misconduct. UNSW has very strict rules regarding plagiarism. Plagiarism at UNSW is using the words or ideas of others and passing them off as your own. All Schools in the Business School have a Student Ethics Officer who will investigate incidents of plagiarism and may result in a student’s name being placed on the Plagiarism and Student Misconduct Registers.

Below are examples of plagiarism including self-plagiarism:

Copying: Using the same or very similar words to the original text or idea without acknowledging the source or using quotation marks. This includes copying materials, ideas or concepts from a book, article, report or other written document, presentation, composition, artwork, design, drawing, circuitry, computer program or software, website, internet, other electronic resource, or another person's assignment, without appropriate acknowledgement of authorship.

Inappropriate Paraphrasing: Changing a few words and phrases while mostly retaining the original structure and/or progression of ideas of the original, and information without acknowledgement. This also applies in presentations where someone paraphrases another’s ideas or words without credit and to piecing together quotes and paraphrases into a new whole, without appropriate referencing.

Collusion: Presenting work as independent work when it has been produced in whole or part in collusion with other people. Collusion includes:

  • Students providing their work to another student before the due date, or for the purpose of them plagiarising at any time
  • Paying another person to perform an academic task and passing it off as your own
  • Stealing or acquiring another person’s academic work and copying it
  • Offering to complete another person’s work or seeking payment for completing academic work

Collusion should not be confused with academic collaboration (i.e., shared contribution towards a group task).

Inappropriate Citation: Citing sources which have not been read, without acknowledging the 'secondary' source from which knowledge of them has been obtained.

Self-Plagiarism: ‘Self-plagiarism’ occurs where an author republishes their own previously written work and presents it as new findings without referencing the earlier work, either in its entirety or partially. Self-plagiarism is also referred to as 'recycling', 'duplication', or 'multiple submissions of research findings' without disclosure. In the student context, self-plagiarism includes re-using parts of, or all of, a body of work that has already been submitted for assessment without proper citation.

To see if you understand plagiarism, do this short quiz:


The University also regards cheating as a form of academic misconduct. Cheating is knowingly submitting the work of others as their own and includes contract cheating (work produced by an external agent or third party that is submitted under the pretences of being a student’s original piece of work). Cheating is not acceptable at UNSW.

If you need to revise or clarify any terms associated with academic integrity you should explore the 'Working with Academic Integrity' self-paced lessons available at:

For UNSW policies, penalties, and information to help you avoid plagiarism see: as well as the guidelines in the online ELISE tutorials for all new UNSW students: For information on student conduct see:

For information on how to acknowledge your sources and reference correctly, see: If you are unsure what referencing style to use in this course, you should ask the lecturer in charge.

Student Responsibilities and Conduct

Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to university policies in relation to class attendance and general conduct and behaviour, including maintaining a safe, respectful environment; and to understand their obligations in relation to workload, assessment and keeping informed.

Information and policies on these topics can be found on the 'Managing your Program' website.


It is expected that you will spend at least ten to twelve hours per week studying for a course except for Summer Term courses which have a minimum weekly workload of twenty to twenty four hours. This time should be made up of reading, research, working on exercises and problems, online activities and attending classes. In periods where you need to complete assignments or prepare for examinations, the workload may be greater. Over-commitment has been a cause of failure for many students. You should take the required workload into account when planning how to balance study with employment and other activities.

We strongly encourage you to connect with your Moodle course websites in the first week of semester. Local and international research indicates that students who engage early and often with their course website are more likely to pass their course.

View more information on expected workload


Your regular and punctual attendance at lectures and seminars or in online learning activities is expected in this course. The Business School reserves the right to refuse final assessment to those students who attend less than 80% of scheduled classes where attendance and participation is required as part of the learning process (e.g., tutorials, flipped classroom sessions, seminars, labs, etc.).

View more information on attendance

General Conduct and Behaviour

You are expected to conduct yourself with consideration and respect for the needs of your fellow students and teaching staff. Conduct which unduly disrupts or interferes with a class, such as ringing or talking on mobile phones, is not acceptable and students may be asked to leave the class.

View more information on student conduct

Health and Safety

UNSW Policy requires each person to work safely and responsibly, in order to avoid personal injury and to protect the safety of others.

View more information on Health and Safety

Keeping Informed

You should take note of all announcements made in lectures, tutorials or on the course web site. From time to time, the University will send important announcements to your university e-mail address without providing you with a paper copy. You will be deemed to have received this information. It is also your responsibility to keep the University informed of all changes to your contact details.

Student Support and Resources

The University and the Business School provide a wide range of support services and resources for students, including:

Business School EQS Consultation Program
The Consultation Program offers academic writing, literacy and numeracy consultations, study skills, exam preparation for Business students. Services include workshops, online resources, individual and group consultations.
Level 1, Room 1035, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 4508

Communication Resources
The Business School Communication and Academic Support programs provide online modules, communication workshops and additional online resources to assist you in developing your academic writing.

Business School Student Centre
The Business School Student Centre provides advice and direction on all aspects of admission, enrolment and graduation.
Level 1, Room 1028 in the Quadrangle Building
02 9385 3189

UNSW Learning Centre
The UNSW Learning Centre provides academic skills support services, including workshops and resources, for all UNSW students. See their website for details.
Lower Ground Floor, North Wing Chancellery Building.
02 9385 2060

Educational Support Service
Educational Support Advisors work with all students to promote the development of skills needed to succeed at university, whilst also providing personal support throughout the process. Check their website to request an appointment or to register in the Academic Success Program.
John Goodsell Building, Ground Floor.
02 9385 4734

Library services and facilities for students
The UNSW Library offers a range of collections, services and facilities both on-campus and online.
Main Library, F21.
02 9385 2650

Moodle eLearning Support
Moodle is the University’s learning management system. You should ensure that you log into Moodle regularly.
02 9385 3331

UNSW IT provides support and services for students such as password access, email services, wireless services and technical support.
UNSW Library Annexe (Ground floor).
02 9385 1333

Disability Support Services
UNSW Disability Support Services provides assistance to students who are trying to manage the demands of university as well as a health condition, learning disability or who have personal circumstances that are having an impact on their studies. Disability Advisers can arrange to put in place services and educational adjustments to make things more manageable so that students are able to complete their course requirements. To receive educational adjustments for disability support, students must first register with Disability Services.
Ground Floor, John Goodsell Building.
02 9385 4734

UNSW Counselling and Psychological Services
Provides support and services if you need help with your personal life, getting your academic life back on track or just want to know how to stay safe, including free, confidential counselling.
Level 2, East Wing, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 5418

Search Degrees

Find a degree or course