Katrina Five Years Later
The Gulf Coast will be receiving a lot of media attention over the next week. It was 5 years ago on August 29th when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. I started a research effort to study the rebuilding of New Orleans (physical plant, but more importantly the society and economy) almost immediately, and we had individuals on the ground gathering information very quickly.An early summary of our work can be found in the Southern Economic Journal -- Download 2007_SEJ_PolEconSocKatrina But several academic papers and policy papers were produced by our research team at Mercatus between 2005-2010 which can be downloaded by following this link. In additional to traditional economics, we also collected an oral history of the efforts at community rebuilding and the reforming of civil society. Emily Chamlee Wright's The Cultural and Political Economy of Recovery (Routledge, 2010). Emily's work is the outgrowth of hundreds of interviews and thousands of hours of analysis. It is a must read for anyone who wants to understand this event and situate it in the social sciences. As Deirdre McCloskey points out about the work, Emily shows that economy is not a machine, and that social order is embedded in culture and civil society. To do this, McCloskey says, and to do this well, you need an "empirical yet Austrian economics" and Emily's work is the "sterling example" of this genre. There will be several more books and articles coming out of this project that are in this genre of ethnography and economic analysis, but Emily's is the first and more thorough-going treatment of this unusual synthesis. This was what Don Lavoie was trying to establish with the interpretive turn, and Emily's book, in many ways, is the fulfillment of Don's vision for a reconstructed political economy that put real human's with their purposes and plans, with their intentions and meanings, with the social relationships and shared intersubjective understandings.Next Wednesday, September 1 at 12:30 at the Mercatus Center (located on the Arlington campus of GMU), there will be a book launch to celebrate Emily's fantastic achievement and to discuss what we have learned in the 5 year study after the storm. Please join us.