Unforgettable

30 April, 2017 at 23:24 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Unforgettable

 

Why Cramer’s rule works (student stuff)

30 April, 2017 at 20:34 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Why Cramer’s rule works (student stuff)

 

Nu lyfter vi från marken

30 April, 2017 at 15:22 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Nu lyfter vi från marken


Freddie Wadling (1951-2016)

Wiehe ska va president

30 April, 2017 at 12:56 | Posted in Varia | 1 Comment


Kom inte och säg att en cover aldrig kan vara bättre än originalet!

Hur återskapar vi förtroendet för nationalekonomin?

30 April, 2017 at 11:40 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Hur återskapar vi förtroendet för nationalekonomin?

varapport2009_3-724x1024Nationalekonomin som vetenskap har världen över förlorat otroligt mycket i prestige och status under senare år. Inte minst på grund av dess oförmåga att se den senaste finansiella krisen i antågande och på grund av dess avsaknad av konstruktiva och hållbara förslag på att ta oss ur krisen.

Hur återskapar vi förtroendet för nationalekonomin?

Fem förändringar är helt avgörande.

(1) Sluta låtsas som om vi har exakta och riktiga svar på allting. För det har vi inte. Vi bygger modeller och teorier där vi på hundradelars procent kan tala om vad värdet på räntan kommer att vara om trettio år. Vi kan kalkylera investeringsrisker och göra exakta framtidsprognoser. Men detta bygger vi på matematiska och statistiska antaganden som ofta har väldigt lite eller inget alls med verkligheten att göra. Genom att inte låtsas om den avgörande skillnaden mellan modell och verklighet invaggar vi människor i en falsk trygghet av att vi har koll på läget. Det har vi inte! Det var denna falska trygghet som aktivt medverkade till finanskrisen år 2008. Vi måste våga erkänna att vi ibland inte vet allt, utan att det finns saker som vi inte ens vet att vi inte vet. All osäkerhet går inte att reducera till kalkylerbar risk.

(2) Sluta upp med den barnsliga övertron på matematikens förmåga att ge svar på viktiga ekonomiska frågor. Matematik ger bara exakta svar på exakta frågor. Men de intressanta och relevanta frågor vi ställs inför på det ekonomiska området är sällan av det slaget. Frågor av typen “är 2 + 2 = 4?” lyser helt med sin frånvaro i verklighetens ekonomi. Istället för en i grunden förfelad tilltro till att abstrakta matematisk-axiomatiska modeller har något av substans att tillföra vår kunskap om samhällsekonomin, hade det varit bättre om vi ägnade oss åt relevanta empiriska studier och observationer.

(3) Sluta upp med tron att vi inom nationalekonomin rör oss med lagar. Med övertron på matematiken följer också en i grunden förfelad tro på att vi inom ekonomin ska och kan ställa upp universella och allmängiltiga lagar av den typen som finns inom exempelvis fysiken eller astronomin. Det kan vi inte. Ekonomi är inget slutet planetsystem eller fysiklab. I verkligheten är det mesta vi kan hoppas på inom ekonomins område att fastslå eventuella tendenser med varierande grad av generaliserbarhet.

(4) Sluta upp att betrakta alla andra samhällsvetenskaper som fattiga kusiner från landet. Nationalekonomin har länge lidit av kraftig hybris. Men “samhällsvetenskapernas drottning” klarar sig inte utan samverkan med andra vetenskaper. Inte minst andra mer evidensbaserade vetenskaper som ekonomisk historia och psykologi har mycket att tillföra nationalekonomin. Mångfald och vidsyn skulle berika en idag alltför autistisk nationalekonomi.

(5) Sluta på det ekonomisk-politiska området upp med att bygga modeller och prognoser på fullständigt verklighetsfrånvända “mikrofundament” med robotliknande “representativa aktörs”-imitationer av över tiden optimerande människor utrustade med “rationella förväntningar”. Detta är ren och skär nonsens. Vi måste bygga våra mikrofundament och makromodeller på antaganden som inte står i uppenbar kontrast till verkligheten. Och i det arbetet måste vi vara ödmjuka nog att inse att psykologi och andra beteendevetenskaper kan bidra med viktiga pusselbitar.

Conventional economics — a severe form of brain damage

30 April, 2017 at 10:38 | Posted in Economics | 4 Comments

 

I’m extremely fond of scientists like David Suzuki. With razor-sharp intellects they immediately go for the essentials. They have no time for bullshit. And neither should we.

The Conqueror

29 April, 2017 at 20:43 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on The Conqueror


Pelle the Conqueror — based on Martin Andersen Nexö’s epic masterpiece — is a stunningly beautiful and painful movie. Bille August directed. Stefan Nilsson wrote the music. Max von Sydow made the performance of his life. And it breaks my heart every time I watch it.

Mainstream textbooks — full of utter nonsense!

29 April, 2017 at 14:22 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

51j8ZC7N3QL._SY400_The other day yours truly was sent a copy of the new edition of Chad Jones intermediate textbook Macroeconomics (4th ed, W W Norton, 2018). There’s much in the book I like, e. g. Jones’  combining of more traditional short-run macroeconomic analysis with an accessible coverage of the Romer model — the foundation of modern growth theory — and DSGE business cycle models.

Unfortunately it also contains some utter nonsense!

In chapter 7 — on “The Labor Market, Wages, and Unemployment” — Jones writes (p. 184):

The point of this experiment is to show that wage rigidities can lead to large movements in employment. Indeed, they are the reason John Maynard Keynes gave, in The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936), for the high unemployment of the Great Depression.

But this is pure nonsense. A serious editor — who really checked the facts — would immediately find that although Keynes in General Theory devoted substantial attention to the subject of wage rigidities, he certainly did not hold the view that wage rigidities were “the reason … for the high unemployment of the Great Depression.”

Since unions/workers, contrary to classical assumptions, make wage-bargains in nominal terms, they will — according to Keynes — accept lower real wages caused by higher prices, but resist lower real wages caused by lower nominal wages. However, Keynes held it incorrect to attribute “cyclical” unemployment to this diversified agent behaviour. During the depression money wages fell significantly and — as Keynes noted — unemployment still grew. Thus, even when nominal wages are lowered, they do not generally lower unemployment.

In any specific labour market, lower wages could, of course, raise the demand for labour. But a general reduction in money wages would leave real wages more or less unchanged. The reasoning of the classical economists was, according to Keynes, a flagrant example of the “fallacy of composition.” Assuming that since unions/workers in a specific labour market could negotiate real wage reductions via lowering nominal wages, unions/workers in general could do the same, the classics confused micro with macro.

Lowering nominal wages could not — according to Keynes — clear the labour market. Lowering wages — and possibly prices — could, perhaps, lower interest rates and increase investment. But to Keynes it would be much easier to achieve that effect by increasing the money supply. In any case, wage reductions was not seen by Keynes as a general substitute for an expansionary monetary or fiscal policy.

Even if potentially positive impacts of lowering wages exist, there are also more heavily weighing negative impacts — management-union relations deteriorating, expectations of on-going lowering of wages causing delay of investments, debt deflation et cetera.

So, what Keynes actually did argue in General Theory, was that the classical proposition that lowering wages would lower unemployment and ultimately take economies out of depressions, was ill-founded and basically wrong.

To Keynes, flexible wages would only make things worse by leading to erratic price-fluctuations. The basic explanation for unemployment is insufficient aggregate demand, and that is mostly determined outside the labor market.

Unfortunately, Jones macroeconomics textbook is not the only one containing this kind of utter nonsense on Keynes. Similar distortions of Keynes’s views can be found in, e. g., the economics textbooks of  ‘New Keynesian’ economists like Greg Mankiw and Paul Krugman. How is this possible? Probably because these economists have but a very superficial acquaintance with Keynes’s own works, and rather depend on second-hand sources like Hansen, Samuelson, Hicks and the likes.

Fortunately there is a simple solution to the problem. Keynes’s books are still in print.

Read them!

The classical school [maintains that] while the demand for labour at the existing money-wage may be satisfied before everyone willing to work at this wage is employed, this situation is due to an open or tacit agreement amongst workers not to work for less, and that if labour as a whole would agree to a reduction of money-wages more employment would be forthcoming. If this is the case, such unemployment, though apparently involuntary, is not strictly so, and ought to be included under the above category of ‘voluntary’ unemployment due to the effects of collective bargaining, etc …

the-general-theory-of-employment-interest-and-money-original-imadd345yguuqecuThe classical theory … is best regarded as a theory of distribution in conditions of full employment. So long as the classical postulates hold good, unemploy-ment, which is in the above sense involuntary, cannot occur. Apparent unemployment must, therefore, be the result either of temporary loss of work of the ‘between jobs’ type or of intermittent demand for highly specialised resources or of the effect of a trade union ‘closed shop’ on the employment of free labour. Thus writers in the classical tradition, overlooking the special assumption underlying their theory, have been driven inevitably to the conclusion, perfectly logical on their assumption, that apparent unemployment (apart from the admitted exceptions) must be due at bottom to a refusal by the unemployed factors to accept a reward which corresponds to their marginal productivity …

Obviously, however, if the classical theory is only applicable to the case of full employment, it is fallacious to apply it to the problems of involuntary unemployment – if there be such a thing (and who will deny it?). The classical theorists resemble Euclidean geometers in a non-Euclidean world who, discovering that in experience straight lines apparently parallel often meet, rebuke the lines for not keeping straight – as the only remedy for the unfortunate collisions which are occurring. Yet, in truth, there is no remedy except to throw over the axiom of parallels and to work out a non-Euclidean geometry. Something similar is required to-day in economics. We need to throw over the second postulate of the classical doctrine and to work out the behaviour of a system in which involuntary unemployment in the strict sense is possible.

Economics — the triumph of ideology over science

29 April, 2017 at 11:36 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

Research shows not only that individuals sometimes act differently than standard economic theories predict, but that they do so regularly, systematically, and in ways that can be understood and interpreted through alternative hypotheses, competing with those utilised by orthodox economists.

Senate Banking Subcommittee On Financial Institutions Hearing With StiglitzTo most market participants – and, indeed, ordinary observers – this does not seem like big news … In fact, this irrationality is no news to the economics profession either. John Maynard Keynes long ago described the stock market as based not on rational individuals struggling to uncover market fundamentals, but as a beauty contest in which the winner is the one who guesses best what the judges will say …

Adam Smith’s invisible hand – the idea that free markets lead to efficiency as if guided by unseen forces – is invisible, at least in part, because it is not there …

For more than 20 years, economists were enthralled by so-called “rational expectations” models which assumed that all participants have the same (if not perfect) information and act perfectly rationally, that markets are perfectly efficient, that unemployment never exists (except when caused by greedy unions or government minimum wages), and where there is never any credit rationing.

That such models prevailed, especially in America’s graduate schools, despite evidence to the contrary, bears testimony to a triumph of ideology over science. Unfortunately, students of these graduate programmes now act as policymakers in many countries, and are trying to implement programmes based on the ideas that have come to be called market fundamentalism … Good science recognises its limitations, but the prophets of rational expectations have usually shown no such modesty.

Joseph Stiglitz

Nationalekonomins verkliga ansikte

29 April, 2017 at 09:05 | Posted in Economics | 5 Comments

Yours truly lyssnade för ett tag sedan på ett radioprogram där man diskuterade huruvida nationalekonomin verkligen är en vetenskap. För att ‘försvara’ nationalekonomin hade man bjudit in en av de få genuint vidsynta och tvärvetenskapligt orienterade ekonomiprofessorer vi har i landet. Vi hade så vitt jag kan bedöma — efter 40 års umgänge med svenska nationalekonomer — fått en mer rättvis bild av vad det svenska nationalekonomi-etablissemanget står för om man istället låtit den här mannen deltaga i debatten:

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