June 23, 2014
"The sharing economy appropriates a language of change and collectivity (e.g., “collaborative consumption”) to proselytize for business models that atomize individuals further, reducing their social usefulness to the spare capacity they can mobilize and marketize."

Rob Horning at Internal Exile commentig on Paul Mason in The New StatesmanPaul Mason: what would Keynes do?

The revolution in IT and how it is transforming our world in ways that even economists are struggling to understand.

May 30, 2014
"The nature of the human ape being what it is, once in a while some borderline personalities always find their way into every group, resulting in some amount of drama. But a bigger problem is that the helpful, healthy kind of drama was also almost entirely missing. Most of the attendees seemed to be able to process the intellectual content of the conference, but collapse as an intellectual pursuit seems almost worthless to me. It cannot be reduced to problems and solutions. The universe, and life on earth (jellyfish, cockroaches and all) will go on with or without you, and so the only real problem is you, and how you may need to change in order to adapt. And this is not an entirely intellectual transformation, but also an emotional and a physiological one."

Dimitri Orlov at Club Orlov. Review: Age of Limits 2014

May 30, 2014
"Statements of the bleeding obvious, the outcomes of basic arithmetic, are treated as exotic and unpardonable distractions, while the impossible proposition by which we live is regarded as so sane and normal and unremarkable that it isn’t worthy of mention. That’s how you measure the depth of this problem: by our inability even to discuss it."

George Monbiot in The Guardian. It’s simple. If we can’t change our economic system, our number’s up

It’s the great taboo of our age – and the inability to discuss the pursuit of perpetual growth will prove humanity’s undoing

May 28, 2014
"Peer review, to my mind, should be thought of as a continuous process: It starts from the moment a researcher first describes her result to a colleague over coffee and it never ends, even after her work has been published in a peer-reviewed journal (or a best-selling book). Many findings are contradicted or even retracted years after being published, and replication rates for peer-reviewed academic studies across a variety of disciplines are disturbingly low."

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEightBe Skeptical of Both Piketty And His Skeptics

May 16, 2014
"Economists have two attitudes towards discourse, the official and unofficial, the explicit and the implicit. The official rhetoric,to which they subscribe in the abstract and in methodological ruminations, declares them to be scientists in the modern mode. The credo of Scientific Method, known mockingly among its many critics as the Received View, is an amalgam of logical positivism, behaviorism, operationalism, and the hypothetico-deductive model of science. Its leading idea is that all sure knowledge is modeled on the early 20th century’s understanding of certain pieces of 19th century physics. To emphasize its pervasiveness in modern thinking well beyond scholarship it is best labeled simply “modernism.” that is, the notion (as Booth puts it) that we know only what we cannot doubt and cannot really know what we can merely assent to."

Deirdre McCloskey  in Journal of Economic Literature (June 1983, PDF). The Rhetoric of Economics

May 5, 2014
Economics students call for shakeup of the way their subject is taught

International Student Initiative for Pluralism in economics, Open Letter

International Confederation of Associations for Pluralism in Economics

Satya Gabriel with a very brief Introduction to Heterodox Economic Theory

Dylan Matthews at Washington Post Wonk Blog with a brief history of how the economics department at University of Massachusetts became pluralist, Inside the offbeat economics department that debunked Reinhart-Rogoff

May 5, 2014
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that many people are alive who shouldn’t be. To say nothing of the teeming masses of the third world, why must the unemployed exist, or those without start-up capital? By what right do they occupy valuable real estate, choking our cities and impeding innovation?"

Johnathan Motherfucking Swift at The New Inquiry. America is Hungry, Let’s Eat

May 1, 2014
"Piketty and his fans assume that the industrial orgy will continue one way or another, in other words that some mysterious “they” will “come up with innovative new technologies” to obviate the need for fossil fuels and that the volume of wealth generated will more or less continue to increase. This notion is childish, idiotic, and wrong. Energy and technology are not substitutable with each other."

James Howard Kunstler at Clusterfuck Nation via Ukiah Blog. Piketty Dikitty Rikitty…

April 26, 2014
Paul M. Sweezy

I often respond to people pegging me as a Marxist with “I’m too lazy for that!” It doesn’t do any good, and it’s such an incomplete answer, but it’s actually true. When people lob that at me they’re just setting up an argument premised on my bad morals, hardheartedness, and stupidity. It perplexes me, because while I’m not a Marxist, I can’t imagine why this important intellectual thread is beyond the pale.

Anyhow, I’ve been engaged reading reviews of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty First Century. I’m no economist, and one of the questions the book raises for me is how to interpret his findings in light of coming up against limits to growth? But the reviews are also interesting because the topics that are being engaged in mainstream media are ones I haven’t seen much of for more than 30 years in popular conversation. So I recalled Paul M. Sweezy and will offer a few links.

On the Laws of Capitalism is a really fascinating article in MR from 2011. John Bellamy Foster was doing some research for a book. He had Paul Sweezy’s original copy of Joseph Schumpeter’s book Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. In it he found folded pages of notes by Paul Sweezy for a famous debate at Harvard between Sweezy and Schumpeter in 1946-1947 school term.

Robert Pollan at Counterpunch (2004). Remembering Paul Sweezy, “He was an Amazingly Great Man.”

I was particularly interested in a 1986 interview with Sweezy with  E. Ahmet Tonak and Sungur Savran at Gloves Off. I was impressed how he recognized that finacialized capitalism was a complex problem for economics.

Paul Sweezy was the preeminent Marxist-economist in the USA in the 20th Century. 

April 26, 2014
"The US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has disclosed that CIA collaborators helped plan the economic measures that Chile’s junta enacted immediately after seizing power (‘A Draconian Cure for Chile’s Economic Ills’, Business Week, January 12). Committee witnesses maintain that some of the Chicago boys received CIA funds for such research efforts as a 300-page economic blueprint that was given to military leaders before the coup. It is therefore understandable that after seizing power they were, as The Wall Street Journal (November 2, 1973) put it, champing to be unleashed on the Chilean economy. Their first approach to the situation was gradual; only after a year of relative confusion did they decide to implement without major modification the theoretical model they had been taught at Chicago. The occasion merited a visit to Chile by Mr. Friedman himself who, along with his associate, Professor Harberger, made a series of well-publicized appearances to promote a shock treatment for the Chilean economy - something that Friedman emphatically described as the only medicine. Absolutely. There is no other. There is no other long-term solution. (The quotation is from El Mercurio of Santiago, March 23, 1975.)"

Orlando Letelier in The Nation (1976)at TNI. The Chicago Boys in Chile: Economic Freedom’s Awful Toll

Deeply involved in the preparation of the 1975 military coup in Chile, the Chicago Boys convinced the Junta generals that they were prepared to supplement the brutality, which the military possessed, with the intellectual assets it lacked.

Letelier was a Chilean economist who was assassinated in a car bombing in Washington DC on September 21, 1976 in an operation directed by Michael Townley. Townley worked for the CIA and was trained by the CIA in manufacturing and deploying car bombs.  Orlando Letelier article at Wikipedia.

I looked up the article because of the number of of reviews of Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century I’ve read this week. Several compare its significance to Milton Freidman and Ana Schwartz 1963 tome, A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960.

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