Browsing articles tagged with " economics"
Jul 24, 2017
boyce
Comments Off on Astrological economics

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
boyce
Comments Off on This changes not much: performance of moral virtue as politics

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
boyce

Rediscovering the modern relevance of the commons

Laura Flanders interviews Econ4’s David Bollier:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsRFdBBOyzU

Apr 29, 2017
boyce
Comments Off on Thinking about groupthink

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
boyce
Comments Off on The economics hammer

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
boyce
Comments Off on Questioning econocracy

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.

Oct 6, 2016
boyce
Comments Off on The deserving rich?

The deserving rich?

Nancy Folbre takes issue with Harvard professor Gregory Mankiw’s defense of the one percent:

The rich are not like you and me. They contribute far more to society than everybody else, so argues Harvard University economist Gregory Mankiw in his essay “Defending the One Percent.” Mankiw’s praise for talented superstars such as Steven Jobs, J.K. Rowling, and Steven Spielberg quickly blooms into a more general argument that competitive labor markets pay workers what they deserve. This is music to the ears of high earners, and it sings to a very human desire to believe that the world is fair….

Some of us contribute more than members of the top one percent to the economy, and some of us contribute less. None of us gets exactly what we deserve. One difference between the rich and us is that they have more money. They also enjoy—both as cause and effect—a lot more power.

Read her blog here; read her working paper on “just desserts” here.

Sep 15, 2016
boyce
Comments Off on What could a democratized economy look like?

What could a democratized economy look like?

Econ4’s Gar Alperovitz describes a pluralist commonwealth – an alternative to the concentration of wealth and power:

Source: The Democracy Collaborative.

May 10, 2016
boyce
Comments Off on Funny numbers: counting unemployment

Funny numbers: counting unemployment

In this “Economics for the Rest of Us” podcast, Diptherio breaks down the peculiar ways “unemployment” is measured by the U.S. government. Check it out here.

Diptherio visual

Apr 22, 2016
boyce
Comments Off on Economic orthodoxy: where vision goes to die

Economic orthodoxy: where vision goes to die

Econ4’s Gerald Friedman laments the blindness of orthodox economics:

When I conducted an assessment of Senator Bernie Sanders’ economic proposals and found that they could produce robust growth, the negative reaction among powerful liberal economists was swift and vehement. How much, I wondered, did this reflect personal disappointment being rationalized into a political economy of despair? Professional economists tend to embrace an economic theory that government can do little more than fuss around the edges. From that stance, what do they have to offer ordinary people for whom the economy is not working? Not a whole lot.

Read Friedman’s full piece here.

PS: The debate on the Sanders proposals between Friedman and his critics is recapped here and here.

Pages:1234567»