Back in the mid 1990s, I attended Deirdre McCloskey's first talk at the AEA meetings after her coming out publicly as a transgender person. She had not yet had her subsequent medical procedures, let alone written her telling memoir Crossings. McCloskey stood before a packed room of 500, dressed in a stylish dress and wig, and proudly announced "I am an economist in transition." [pause] "I am transitioning from a Chicago economist to an Austrian economist." Whatever awkwardness or tension that existed in the room was dispelled with that quip, and McCloskey proceeded to give a wonderful talk on the importance of rhetoric within the economy, pursuing a theme she had developed with Arjo Klamer in "One Quarter of GDP is Persuasion".
In a recent paper published in Vol. 3 of the Annual Proceedings of the Wealth and Well-Being of Nations, McCloskey examines the role of entrepreneurship, discovery, and rhetoric in understanding the wealth and poverty of nations. The 2010 Upton Forum at Beloit College was focused on the work of Israel M. Kirzner, and McCloskey's paper is no different. Download A Kirznerian Economic History of the Modern World. In my opinion, McCloskey's paper is required reading for all who want to understand why some nations grow rich while others languish in poverty. It is a continuation of the argument presented in her Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Cannot Explain the Modern World. McCloskey summarizes her argument nicely here, and she pursues the entrepreneurial element in the story in her reflections on Kirzner and Austrian economics. I have attempted to address her thesis in my essay "A Behavioral Approach to the Political and Economic Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations."
Many elements in McCloskey's argument remind me of the nuanced argument made by Tyler Cowen in a very underappreciated essay of his -- "Entrepreneurship, Austrian Economics, and the Quarrel Between Philosophy and Poetry."