‘Institutions’ do not mean the same thing to Samuelsonian economists as they mean to other people. North's ‘rules of game’, like chess, dominates, even when it is claimed that ‘informal institutions’ are allowed into the tale. The tale is that institutions were once clotted, and then became unclotted, and the Great Enrichment occurred. But the enrichment was by a factor of upwards of a hundred, which cannot be explained by routine movements to an efficient equilibrium. And changes of institutions did not in fact happen much in England. Ethics changed, not laws and procedures. For presently poor countries, too, it will not suffice, as the World Bank and Acemoglu recommend, to add institutions and stir. Economies rely on ethics, which neo-institutionalists, being at heart Samuelsonian, have not wanted to admit. Ideas matter. Indeed, metaphors and stories matter, as in Searle's account.
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