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Tag Archives: Uncategorized

Economics and ideology

from Lars Syll Mainstream (neoclassical) economics has always put a strong emphasis on the positivist conception of the discipline, characterizing economists and their views as objective, unbiased, and non-ideological … Acknowledging that ideology resides quite comfortably in our economics departments would have huge intellectual implications, both theoretical and practical. In spite (or because?) of that, the matter has never been directly subjected to empirical scrutiny. In a recent...

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What the German government must do now to turn around an unsustainable economy

from Norbert Häring Germany’s economic output contracted in the second quarter and most indications point to a worsening in the third quarter, which is just halfway through. The culprit is only superficially Donald Trump with his trade wars. The German economy has been on an unsustainable path in several respects. Now the government is called upon to act courageously and intelligently to ensure that a deep restructuring crisis is avoided. The German success model was not sustainable...

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Economics in Two Lessons, reviewed

A couple of reviews of Economics in Two Lessons have come out, from opposite ends of the political spectrum. The more interesting is Max Sawicky’s in Jacobin. Sawicky does a great job in summarising the key ideas in the book. His is probably the best review so far for non-economists to get an understanding of the main themes. Given the Jacobin audience, the key question is “Why should a socialist read a book about markets?” As Sawicky observes, the answer is easy for socialists...

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Good news: The stock market is plunging

from Dean Baker The stock market enjoys a mythological place not only among mainstream media types, but also among many progressives. For some reason this measure of expected future corporate profits is taken as a measure of economic well-being. The fact that the media obsesses over the stock market hardly needs to be mentioned. If there is one item about the economy that we can be sure will be repeated every day, it is the movement in the Dow or the S&P 500. And, needless to say, an...

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Statistics and mathematics — not very helpful for understanding economies

from Lars Syll Statistical science is not really very helpful for understanding or forecasting complex evolving self-healing organic ambiguous social systems – economies, in other words. A statistician may have done the programming, but when you press a button on a computer keyboard and ask the computer to find some good patterns, better get clear a sad fact: computers do not think. They do exactly what the programmer told them to do and nothing more. They look for the patterns that we...

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Progressive policies may hurt the stock market. that’s not a bad thing.

from Dean Baker Last week, we saw the media terrified over a plunge in the stock market following an escalation of Donald Trump’s trade war with China. There are good reasons to be concerned about Trump’s ill-defined trade war and reality TV tactics, but the plunge in the stock market is not one of them. While the idea that the stock market is a measure of the health of the economy permeates news reporting and popular understanding, it has no basis in economics. The stock market is a...

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Adani beware: coal is on the road to becoming completely uninsurable

That’s the headline for my latest piece in The Conversation. Although I use Adani as a convenient example, it’s about the bigger issue of whether insurers will flee from the potential litigation liability of insuring fossil fuel producers. Of these, thermal coal miners and generators are the most vulnerable because they are already marginal in economic terms. Share this:Like this:Like Loading...

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No reality, please. We’re economists!

from Lars Syll Mathematics, especially through the work of David Hilbert, became increasingly viewed as a discipline properly concerned with providing a pool of frameworks for possible realities. No longer was mathematics seen as the language of (non-social) nature, abstracted from the study of the latter. Rather, it was conceived as a practice concerned with formulating systems comprising sets of axioms and their deductive consequences, with these systems in effect taking on a life of...

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