Browsing articles tagged with " economics"
May 4, 2018

State of Resistance

State of Resistance, by Manuel Pastor, draws out lessons from the fall and rise of California’s economy:

Once upon a time, any mention of California triggered unpleasant reminders of Ronald Reagan and right-wing tax revolts, ballot propositions targeting undocumented immigrants, and racist policing that sparked two of the nation’s most devastating riots. California confronted many of the challenges the rest of the country faces now–decades before the rest of us.

Today, California is leading the way on addressing climate change, low-

wage work, immigrant integration, over-incarceration, and more. As white residents became a minority and job loss drove economic uncertainty, California had its own Trump moment twenty-five years ago, but has become increasingly blue over each of the last seven presidential elections.

How did the Golden State manage to emerge from its unsavory past to become a bellwether for the rest of the country?

Read more here.

May 2, 2018

Economics and morality

Economists cannot avoid grappling with moral questions, says … The Economist:

To be useful, economists need to learn to understand and evaluate moral arguments rather than dismiss them.

Many economists will find that a dismal prospect. Calculations of social utility are tidier, and the profession has fallen out of the habit of moral reasoning. But those who wish to say what society should be doing cannot dodge questions of values.

Read more here.

See also The Economist’s Oath by Econ4’s George DeMartino.

Nov 16, 2017

California working

A video from the Labor Center at UC-Berkeley reports on the employment and growth results of progressive state policies in California:


Nov 4, 2017

“Five Things They Don’t Tell You About Law & Economics”

A new video from APPEAL – the Association for the Promotion of Political Economy and the Law – challenges the “pro-efficiency” and “anti-regulation” ideology purveyed under the banner of “Law and Economics”:


Jul 24, 2017

Astrological economics

Mathematics can help to clarify ideas, but it can also put a scientific veneer on a load of bunk. A philosophy professor looks at the emperor’s clothes:

The success of math-heavy disciplines such as physics and chemistry has granted mathematical formulas with decisive authoritative force. Lord Kelvin, the 19th-century mathematical physicist, expressed this quantitative obsession:

When you can measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it… in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.

The trouble with Kelvin’s statement is that measurement and mathematics do not guarantee the status of science – they guarantee only the semblance of science. When the presumptions or conclusions of a scientific theory are absurd or simply false, the theory ought to be questioned and, eventually, rejected. The discipline of economics, however, is presently so blinkered by the talismanic authority of mathematics that theories go overvalued and unchecked.

Read the piece here.

Jul 3, 2017

This changes not much: performance of moral virtue as politics

Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything has attracted many admirers on the left. A thought-provoking exception is economist Peter Dorman, who writes:

[R]edefining politics as the performance of moral virtue rather than the contest for power can provide consolation when political avenues appear to be blocked. Activities of this sort are evaluated according to how expressive they are—how good they make us feel—rather than any objective criterion of effectiveness in achieving concrete goals or altering the balance of political forces.

Read his critique of the book here.

May 26, 2017

Rediscovering the modern relevance of the commons

Laura Flanders interviews Econ4’s David Bollier:


Apr 29, 2017

Thinking about groupthink

Conventional economics has long oversold individual rationality as the basis for how the economy works. Here’s one of the ways:

Humans rarely think for themselves. Rather, we think in groups…. Most of our views are shaped by communal groupthink rather than individual rationality, and we cling to these views because of group loyalty.

This poses a conundrum worth thinking about – individually and together:

Bombarding people with facts and exposing their individual ignorance is likely to backfire. Most people don’t like too many facts, and they certainly don’t like to feel stupid. If you think that you can convince Donald Trump of the truth of global warming by presenting him with the relevant facts — think again.

See this review of The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone.

Mar 19, 2017

The economics hammer

How narrow-gauge economics leads to narrow-gauge policies:

Walk half a city block in downtown Washington, and there is a good chance that you will pass an economist. People with advanced training in the field shape policy on subjects as varied as how health care is provided, broadcast licenses auctioned or air pollution regulated….

They say when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. And the risk is that when every policy adviser is an economist, every problem looks like inadequate per-capita gross domestic product.

Read more here.

Feb 24, 2017

Questioning econocracy

From a review of the new book, The Econocracy:

The most devastating evidence in this book concerns what goes into making an economist. The authors analysed 174 economics modules … making this the most comprehensive curriculum review I know of. Focusing on the exams that undergraduates were asked to prepare for, they found a heavy reliance on multiple choice. The vast bulk of the questions asked students either to describe a model or theory, or to show how economic events could be explained by them. Rarely were they asked to assess the models themselves. In essence, they were being tested on whether they had memorised the catechism and could recite it under invigilation.

Full review here.

Read more about the book here.