August 8, 2014
"The case for direct state intervention to finance the development of the vaccines and antibiotics that the commercial sector neglects is overwhelming. And very urgent."

Gwynne Dyer at Straight. Ebola and the economics of infection

August 7, 2014

'Is the margin of society unstable?' Here there are two policy prescriptions. One is repression, the other is subsidizing the margins. Both of these lead to problems with the first question. The subsidy route directly. So subsidy answers to the instability problem invariably come with a back end repression component, or a bureaucratic one. Subsidize food? Then make sure people don't buy food cheaply and find ways of reselling it. Subsidize medical care? Then make it crappy, so no sane person who can pay private health insurance, won't.

But the repression answer also breaks the neo-classical economy. Military and police force, as Adam Smith pointed out in 1776, are worthless: the value disappears as soon as it is done. That means repression creates a larger and larger subsidized sector, one whose price will rise above the cost of subsidies.

There is no answer to this problem in micro- or macro- economics because, drum roll, stability is largely based on food prices, food prices are largely based on forces which do not answer to capital incentives. Food is based on land rents, energy rents, and weather conditions. The land can be massaged to respond to capital incentives, but basically, the oil in the ground, and the sun above us, do not care a whit what our economic system does. They don’t move in nice equilibrium friendly marginal increments.


Sterling Newberry at The Sorcerers Apprentice. A Short Post

July 28, 2014
"But even accounting for that, I’ve generally found the coverage of this story particularly irritating, with a handful of honorable exceptions. There’s an extra element here, which is making the reporting on this case much, much worse — and that’s the markets. In short, they’re doing the wrong thing."

Felix Salmon at Medium. The #Griefault trade

Why Argentina’s bonds may be worth even more in default

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

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