Economic change is fomenting intellectual change. When the economy was about stuff, economics resembled physics. When it's about ideas, economics comes to resemble psychology.The economy is still about stuff, just as the economy was always about ideas. McCormick's reaper and Morse's telegraph were both ideas before they became stuff.
The Brooksian tendency toward breathlessness -- he's read yet another "important new book" about a subject he doesn't actually understand -- is balanced by his habitual petulance, as when he complains about economists being "excessively individualistic and rationalistic." He seems to be boning up on intellectual trends among economists to "get a complete view of where the debate is headed."
But "where the debate is headed" is not the same thing as where the economy is headed. Brooks prattles on like a Star Trek fanboy, a spectator getting a vicarious thrill. When you get through reading his column, you don't really know anything about his ostensible subject, Arnold Kling and Nick Schulz's new book, From Poverty to Prosperity. It may indeed be important, but Brooks' column does a piss-poor job of explaining why.
Contrast this, just for example, with Joseph Lawler's discussion of unemployment in the January issue of the American Spectator. Lawler explains that the "jobless recovery" problem is due mainly to the fact that recent changes in our economy are not cyclical, but structural, requiring the shifting of workers from one labor sector to another. In many cases, this will require that workers relocate, and policies that encourage them to stay put -- collecting unemployment in their hometown, waiting for something to come along after the local factory closes down -- actually make matters worse.
Lawler's discussion is lucid and informative, because he's actually trying to explain a real phenomenon, rather than playing the intellectual fanboy game.