Thursday, August 11, 2022

Nonsense Taught At MIT

First Lecture For MIT Microeconomics

I associate Jonathan Gruber with Obamacare. I think the Affordable Care Act is totally insufficient and a great advance. If politicians hire you to model the effects of some policy change, might you want to use, more or less, the most widely accepted techniques? I am also appreciative that I can watch this.

When you are teaching, should you present claims in the most romantic way possible?

"That is why I can teach you the entire field of microeconomics, which is really sort of - macro is kind of a fun application - micro is really economics." (around 9:20)

Thinking of (micro)economics as a matter of constrained optimization is only one approach. I like the idea of investigating the conditions needed for a capitalist economy to reproduce itself. This is mesoeconomics, I guess, but should be mentioned in an honest class on microecnomics.

From Thomas Kuhn, I know history of a subject is often widely distorted in introductory courses. Is this justification for spouting nonsense?

Adam Smith did not have a supply and demand model, that is, of an equilibrium price formed by the intersection of a supply curve and a demand curve (balderdash after about 11:23). Mashall's scissors certainly do not appear in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. Maybe Gruber should note the difference between market prices and natural prices. The model Gruber's teaches is known to be incoherent nonsense, not derivable from basic first principles.

Can one coherently talk about a value-free postive economics? I guess saying that a distinction exists between positive and normative economics does not say that positive economics is value-free. But it certainly suggests that. What Gruber presents (after 34:30) for examples is enlightening, albeit not necessarily in the way that he intends. Do some teachers of introductory courses talk about Schumpeter's "vision"?

If economics is a science, why do this preaching after 26:30? By the way, do the Seninelese have a capitalist economy? Or do they practice Stalinist central planning? How about the society envisioned by the P.O.U.M. in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War?

Update (13 August 2022): Lecture 5 is on production theory, supposedly. If economists were scientist, one would not be able to discomfort them by asking about units of measure for variables in their equations, such as K.


Blissex said...

“units of measure for variables in their equations, such as K.”

I can't remember it that is leets or putty. :-)

Robert Vienneau said...

I wonder if Gruber or the MIT students know that much of this stuff is, at best, incorrect.

Blissex said...

«wonder if Gruber or the MIT students know that much of this stuff is, at best, incorrect»

In my cynical view I wonder whether they care at all: most people work hard and spend a lot of money to go to MIT (Harvard, Berkeley, Columbia, etc.) to secure a prestigious credential that leads to a well-rewarded corporate career, whether what is taught makes sense can well be irrelevant to that.