Wednesday, December 27, 2017


  • Steve Keen and others, in a showy bit of performance art in London, have called for a reformation of economics. Imitating Luther, they have nailed some theses to a door. Here's some links:
  • I do not know who Charles Mudede is or what his platform is. His style is more popular and very different from mine. Examples:
    • On Seattle's minimum wage, in which he brings up an imperfectionist thesis related to the Cambridge Capital Controversy.
    • On Cornel West vs. Ta-Nehisi Coates. I think the idea that identity politics associated with post modernism accommodates neoliberalism is not new (see references below). I don't want to box Coates in, but the way he writes about the Black body in Between the World and Me is definitely a post modern trope. But he writes about it, I guess, because it make sense of his lived experience.
  • I stumble upon a tweet by Duncan Weldon, in which he says he resolves every year to try and understand the Cambridge Capital Controversy.
  • Samir Amin (1998). Spectres of Capitalism: A Critique of Current Intellectual Fashions, Monthly Review Press.
  • Terry Eagleton (1996). The Illusions of Postmodernism, Blackwell.


Blissex said...

«resolves every year to try and understand the Cambridge Capital Controversy»

That's really really funny. I remember the first time I encountered it, long ago, I could not figure out why the american Cambridge kept so obviously begging the question, so I could not not understand why there was a controversy at all, rather than what the controversy was about.
Such was my innocence at the time. :-)

Blissex said...

BTW just noticed an article on the Cambridges Capital Controversy that has both a good summary and a well deserved positive reference to the work of our blogger here:

There is quite a bit of irony in these claims by Romer. As pointed out by Matias Vernengo and by Robert Vienneau in their blogs, Romer’s example is certainly a wrong one. Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson himself recognized long ago that Joan Robinson was quite right to question the validity of the neoclassical aggregate production function and all the nice properties that go with it.

BTW that post has an interesting detail:

Anwar Shaikh demonstrated in his 1974 HUMBUG paper, where he shows that Solow did nothing more than simply to run a regression on national income accounts, thus proceeding to a tautology (with an R2 = 0.999!).

That is an ever bigger problem, because in a service economy the statistical agencies are ever keener to estimate GDP for a sector as k*GDI of that sector, which leads to sometimes hilarious statistical misadventures ;-).

Robert Vienneau said...

I've seen many a comment about trying to understand the CCC that I do not understand.

If you want a one-line summary, I would say that most neoclassical microeconomics is, a priori, in error.

I do not see what the problem is in working through some examples.

The views of, say, Michael Mandler or Christian Bidard are more nuanced.

I suppose I should have been more gentle with many economists. But I have seen many, many comments from economists who clearly don't understand price theory and have no interest in the truth value of their statements.

Maybe the problem with understanding the CCC is that many find it hard to accept that so many of those academically credentialed economists have been spouting poppycock for decades. Surely the profession cannot be as dishonest and backwards as it seems?