Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Still A Man Hears What He Wants To Hear And Disregards The Rest

Mark Blaug has another paper criticizing Sraffianism. Here's one quotation from it:
"One of the striking features of the Sraffian side of the debate, the victorious side, was their categorical refusal to throw light on the debate by empirical research, insisting along with Sraffa himself that an anomaly such as reswitching is a theoretical flaw, which can only be repaired by discarding the theory in which it occurs. This is a position that has been steadfastly maintained through a half century and has only recently been broken by two Sraffians, namely, Lynn Mainwaring and Ian Steedman (2000)... Despite diligent combing through the literature, I have been unable to find more than one or two pieces of empirical work inspired by the theoretical ideals of Sraffian economics." -- Mark Blaug, "The Trade-Off between Rigor and Relevance: Sraffian Economics as a Case in Point, History of Political Economy, V. 41, N. 2 (2009): 219-247
I still don't see how empirical work is necessary to demonstrate a logical error. But confining myself to work before Mainwaring and Steedman (2000) and work in English, I find more than two: Albin (1975), Prince and Rosser (1985), and Ozanne (1996). Asheim (2008) is based on work written up long ago.

Those works, though, are looking for empirical evidence of Sraffa effects. But a plethora of empirical work is somewhat consistent with Sraffianism. I refer to work following in Leontief's wake. Blaug even acknowledges the relevance of this tradition:
"I have inadverently slipped into the language of Leontief's input-output analysis, which of course is rooted in physiocracy and classical economics, but was later adapted by Leontief himself to the mode of analysis of G[eneral] E[quilibrium] T[heory]" -- Mark Blaug, ibid
I find tendentious the assignment of Leontief to General Equilibrium Theory.

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