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Lars Pålsson Syll

Lars Pålsson Syll

Professor at Malmö University. Primary research interest - the philosophy, history and methodology of economics.

Articles by Lars Pålsson Syll

Feynman’s trick (student stuff)

2 days ago

Feynman’s trick (student stuff)

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I had learned to do integrals by various methods shown in a book that my high
school physics teacher Mr. Bader had given me. [It] showed how to differentiate
parameters under the integral sign – it’s a certain operation. It turns out that’s not taught very much in the universities; they don’t emphasize it. But I caught on how to use that method, and I used that one damn tool again and again. [If] guys at MIT or Princeton had trouble doing a certain integral, [then] I come along and try differentiating under the integral sign, and often it worked. So I got a great reputation for doing integrals, only because my box of tools was different from everybody else’s, and they had tried all their tools on it

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Alberto Alesina and the theory of ‘expansionary austerity’

4 days ago

Alberto Alesina, the prominent Harvard University economist and main architect behind the theory of ‘expansionary austerity,’ has died at age 63, Italian media reports today.
As we all know there has been an obsession with government budget deficits since the crisis of 2008. Alesina’s ideas — mostly building on econometric analyses — about austerity expansion basically boils down to the hope that if you cut deficits, the confidence fairy will make business people invest.
No matter how much confidence you have in the policies pursued by authorities nowadays, it cannot turn bad austerity policies into good job-creating policies. Austerity measures and overzealous and simple-minded fixation on monetary measures and inflation ​are not what it takes to get our limping

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Economic models and reality

6 days ago

Economic models and reality

The abandonment of efforts to match real structures has led to disaster, as models of economic theory have grown progressively distant from reality. Attempts to fix the problem have failed to address the cause. Economists look at bad models, and say we should replace these by better models. But the process by which models are evaluated, the underlying methodology, is not examined. The real problem lies much deeper than bad models and ludicrous assumptions. Bad assumptions would quickly be replaced by better ones if the methodology insisted on correction of models to match reality. The real problem is the lack of a progressive methodology. When our mental models are attempts to approximate reality, then, when they fail, we try

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Adam Smith and the other side of the invisible hand

9 days ago

Adam Smith and the other side of the invisible hand

How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it. Of this kind is pity or compassion, the emotion which we feel for the misery of others, when we either see it, or are made to conceive it in a very lively manner. That we often derive sorrow from the sorrow of others, is a matter of fact too obvious to require any instances to prove it; for this sentiment, like all the other original passions of human nature, is by no means confined to the virtuous and humane, though they perhaps may feel it with the most

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Det svenska kränkthetspladdret

9 days ago

Vågade någon tala om för dig att du gjort ett dåligt arbete eller inte ansträngt dig nog? Fick du för dåliga betyg? Höll inte uppsatsen måttet? Det gör inget! För nu för tiden kan alla slö, slappa, lata och likgiltiga komma undan det egna ansvaret med tidens egen deus ex machina — de är kränkta. Simsalabim och problemet är inte längre deras utan den som hade fräckheten att våga påtala bristerna och undermåligheten.
För mig är detta en källa till ständig irritation. Varför? Jo — främst — därför att dagens imbecilla tyckmyckentrutade kränkthetspladder är en skymf mot alla de som verkligen blir kränkta i vårt samhälle. Genom att urvattna begreppet ‘kränkthet’ till en totalt intetsägande psykologiserande fras med betydelse ‘jag tycker detta är jobbigt och gillar det inte’

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Rational choice theory — an abysmal failure

10 days ago

Rational choice theory — an abysmal failure

Though an enthusiast of reason, I believe that rational choice theory has failed abysmally, and it saddens me that this failure has brought discredit upon the very enterprise of serious theorizing in the field of social study …
Rational choice theory is far too ambitious. In fact, it claims to explain everything social in terms of just three assumptions that would hold for all individuals in all social groups and in every historical period. But a Theory of Everything does not explain anything in particular … And being unable to account for differences among individuals and for the variety of social interactions, systems, processes, and institutions, the theory is bound to be unrealistic, i. e., false …

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Sacrificing realism at the altar of mathematical purity

10 days ago

Sacrificing realism at the altar of mathematical purity

Economists are too detached from the real world and have failed to learn from the financial crisis, insisting on using mathematical models which do not reflect reality, according to the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane.
The public has lost faith in economists since the credit crunch, he said, but the profession has failed to thoroughly re-examine its failings to come up with a new model of operating.
“The various reports into the economic costs of the UK leaving the EU most likely fell at the same hurdle. They are written, in the main, by the elite for the elite,” said Mr Haldane, writing the foreword to a new book, called ‘The Econocracy: the perils of leaving economics to the

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Econometrics — a Keynesian perspective

11 days ago

Econometrics — a Keynesian perspective

It will be remembered that the seventy translators of the Septuagint were shut up in seventy separate rooms with the Hebrew text and brought out with them, when they emerged, seventy identical translations. Would the same miracle be vouchsafed if seventy multiple correlators were shut up with the same statistical material? And anyhow, I suppose, if each had a different economist perched on his a priori, that would make a difference to the outcome.
J M Keynes

Mainstream economists today usually subscribe to the idea that although mathematical-statistical models are not ‘always the right guide for policy,’ they are still somehow necessary for making policy recommendations. The models are supposed to supply us with a

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Friskolorna — socialdemokratins största svek någonsin

13 days ago

Friskolorna — socialdemokratins största svek någonsin

Att vi har skolor som Vetenskapsskolan och att skolor som Thorén Innovation School kan fortsätta sin verksamhet trots massiv kritik från Skolinspektionen är inte att förundras över. Det är ett resultat av att det ses som en rättighet snarare än ett privilegium att driva skolor och att beröva någon en rättighet är ingen enkel juridisk process. Eftersom detta synsätt förefaller djupt förankrat så lär den politiska indignationen över olämpliga huvudmän fortsätta att tävla med den politiska oviljan att göra något åt problemet.
Jonas Vlachos

I Sverige år 2020 låter vi friskolekoncerner med undermålig verksamhet få plocka ut skyhöga vinster — vinster som den svenska staten gladeligen låter dessa koncerner

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How the model became the message in economics

14 days ago

How the model became the message in economics

In The World in the Model Mary Morgan gives a historical account of how the model became the message in economics. On the question of how the models provide a method of enquiry where they can function both as “objects to enquire into” and as “objects to enquire with”, Morgan argues that model reasoning involves a kind of experiment. She writes:
It may help to clarify my account of modelling as a double method of enquiry in economics if we compare it with two of the other reasoning styles … the method of mathematical postulation and proof and the method of laboratory experiment.
If we portray mathematical modelling as a version of the method of mathematical postulation and proof … models can indeed be

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Sweden’s coronavirus strategy will soon be the world’s

15 days ago

Sweden’s coronavirus strategy will soon be the world’s

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Interesting interview, but unfortunately neither Prescott nor professor Lobelo have got the fact that Sweden’s strategy is NOT a herd immunity strategy, but an approach directed at keeping our health-care system working without having to ENFORCE social distancing on the population.

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The representative agent — a theoretical cul-de-sac

15 days ago

The representative agent — a theoretical cul-de-sac

Rigorous macroeconomics must therefore ground its analysis in individual behavior, recognize that only a few key variables carry over to the aggregate level, and generally posit distinct functional forms at the macro level. Keynes and Kalecki are eminent examples of this. Keynes builds his analysis of aggregate consumption on personal income and a variety of subjective and objective factors that influence individual savings (non-consumption) behavior. He is also careful to note that institutional and organizational factors play an important role. Despite all of this, he only requires that aggregate real consumption be a function of real income with the property that the marginal propensity to consume be

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WHO slams herd immunity concept

16 days ago

WHO slams herd immunity concept

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And: Sweden’s strategy is NOT a herd immunity strategy. It is rather an approach directed at keeping our health-care system working without having to ENFORCE social distancing on the population. Herd immunity is an interesting ‘thought experiment,’ but should also not be treated as anything else. As with most economics models, epidemiological models building on (as yet) unsubstantiated assumptions should be treated with a fair amount of healthy doubt.

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So your models are nothing but fiction? Count me out!

16 days ago

So your models are nothing but fiction? Count me out!

I have spent a considerable part of my life building economic models, and examining the models that other economists have built. I believe that I am making reasonably good use of my talents in an attempt to understand the social world.I have no fellow-feeling with those economic theorists who, off the record at seminars and conferences, admit that they are only playing a game with other theorists. If their models are not intended seriously, I want to say (and do say when I feel sufficiently combative), why do they expect me to spend my time listening to their expositions? Count me out of the game.
Robert Sugden

Those who want to build macroeconomics on microfoundations usually maintain that the only

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Crazy econometricians

16 days ago

With a few notable exceptions, such as the planetary systems, our most beautiful and exact applications of the laws of physics are all within the entirely artificial and precisely constrained environment of the modern laboratory … Haavelmo remarks that physicists are very clever. They confine their predictions to the outcomes of their experiments. They do not try to predict the course of a rock in the mountains and trace the development of the avalanche. It is only the crazy econometrician who tries to do that, he says.

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Coronavirus — cosa sta succedendo in Svezia?

17 days ago

Coronavirus — cosa sta succedendo in Svezia?

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La percezione che la Svezia non abbia messo in atto misura di controllo è veramente lontano dalla verità. La percezione che la vita vada avanti normalmente in Svezia è semplicemente un falso mito.

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