Friskolefusket — nu får det vara nog!

30 May, 2018 at 21:41 | Posted in Education & School | Comments Off on Friskolefusket — nu får det vara nog!

130206_friskola_001The Swedish school system has somewhat oddly combined market principles such as decentralization, choice, competition, and corporate providers with an evaluation system that is highly trust-based and where teacher-set school grades are high-stakes for the students. This means that both students and schools have incentives to game a system that is easy to game and the findings suggest that the integrity of the evaluation system has been compromised. The results show that all groupings of free schools set higher grades than municipal schools when controlling for student achievement on national tests. As the national tests are locally graded, they are not fully reliable and the differences between public and private providers are more pronounced when more reliable tests are used to control for achievement.

To some extent, the differences in grading standards between municipal and free schools can be accounted for by differences in location and student demographics. Even after holding such factors constant, however, grading standards among private providers appear lenient, in particular among schools that belong to two of the large corporate groups (IES and Kunskapsskolan).

Jonas Vlachos

Vi som arbetar inom det svenska utbildningssystemet tycker att det är självklart att det är vi som lärare som ska sätta betyg på det våra elever presterar. Men tyvärr har vi i vårt land — som det enda i världen idag — infört ett friskolesystem som fullständigt kullkastar människors tillit till vårt betygssystem. För att stärka sina positioner på marknaden väljer friskolor systematiskt att sätta glädjebetyg för att falskeligen ge sken av att det i dessa skolor går ut elever med högre kunskaper än i andra. I friskolekoncernernas värld urholkas betygen för att istället bli ett sätt att fuska till sig fördelar på. Värst av alla dessa friskolor är Kunskapsskolan och Internationella Engelska skolan.

Dessa skojare och fifflare har alldeles för länge tillåtits underminera svensk skola. Nu är det dags för politikerna — som aktivt och/eller genom ren flathet har gjort denna skandal möjlig i snart trettio år — att visa lite samhällsansvar och se till att Sverige blir av med den skamfläck som stavas friskolor.

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Chicago economists — people who have their heads fuddled with nonsense

30 May, 2018 at 17:32 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

“Fisher Says Prices of Stocks Are Low,” said a headline in the New York Times on October 22, 1929, referring to economist Irving Fisher. Two days later, the stock market crashed, and by the end of November the New York Stock Exchange was down 30 percent from its peak. Fisher had based his statement on strong earnings reports, few industrial disputes, and evidence of high investment in research and development (R&D) and in other intangible capital. But since market prices fell dramatically so soon after Fisher’s statement, most analysts and economic historians concluded that Fisher was wrong: in October 1929 stocks were overvalued.

chicIn this paper, we use modern growth theory to evaluate this conclusion. When stocks of corporations are correctly priced, this theory says, their market value should equal the value of corporations’ productive assets, what we will call the fundamental value of corporations.2 Productive assets include both tangible and intangible assets. We have direct measures of corporate tangible capital and land and of the tax rates that affect the prices of these assets. We also have measures of profits and the growth rate of the economy which, together with the tangible capital measures, allow us to infer the size of the stock of intangible capital in the corporate sector. We thus can compare the total value of corporate productive assets to the actual market value of corporate stocks at the time of the crash.

Our results support Fisher’s view. A conservative estimate of the fundamental value of U.S. corporations in 1929—which assumes as low a value for intangible capital as observations allow—is at least 21 times the value of after-tax corporate earnings (or 1.9 times gross national product or GNP). The highest estimate of the actual 1929 market value of corporate stocks (based on samples of publicly traded stocks) is 19 times the value of after-tax corporate earnings at their peak in 1929 (or 1.67 times GNP). This is strong evidence that Fisher was right: stock prices in the fall of 1929 were a little low relative to fundamental values.

Ellen McGrattan & Edward Prescott

I think we better leave the commenting​ on this “research” to Robert Solow:

4703325Suppose someone sits down where you are sitting right now and announces to me that he is Napoleon Bonaparte. The last thing I want to do with him is to get involved in a technical discussion of cavalry tactics at the battle of Austerlitz. If I do that, I’m getting tacitly drawn into the game that he is Napoleon. Now, Bob Lucas and Tom Sargent like nothing better than to get drawn into technical discussions, because then you have tacitly gone along with their fundamental assumptions; your attention is attracted away from the basic weakness of the whole story. Since I find that fundamental framework ludicrous, I respond by treating it as ludicrous – that is, by laughing at it – so as not to fall into the trap of taking it seriously and passing on to matters of technique.

Robert Solow

Italy — shows why the euro has to be abandoned if Europe is to be saved

30 May, 2018 at 12:53 | Posted in Economics | 2 Comments

ita ger 10y spreadInvestors had until recently been widely expected the European Central Bank to signal at its next meeting in two weeks’ time that it would wind down QE later in the year. Now, questions are growing about how feasible it will be to withdraw the ECB’s buying power at a time when investors are already driving Italian debt costs higher. Nearly half a decade ago, the Greek debt crisis turned into a crunch point for the bloc as a whole. The sheer scale of both the Italian economy and its bond market make it much more of a systemic challenge to the bloc than Greece was. Some commentators have dubbed Italy “too big to fail and too big to bail”. “On a number of levels — by challenging political cohesion, by raising public and private borrowing costs, and ultimately, through growing eurosystem imbalances — events in Italy could destabilise the euro area,” said Marchel Alexandrovich, senior European financial economist at Jefferies.

Financial Times

The euro has taken away the possibility for national governments to manage their economies in a meaningful way — and in Italy, just as in Greece a couple of years ago, the people have​ had to pay the true costs of its concomitant misguided austerity policies.

The unfolding of the repeated economic crises in euroland during the last decade has shown beyond any doubts that the euro is not only an economic project​ but just as much a political one. What the neoliberal revolution during the 1980s and 1990s didn’t manage to accomplish, the euro shall now force on us.

austerity22But do the peoples of Europe really want to deprive themselves of economic autonomy, enforce lower wages and slash social welfare at the slightest sign of economic distress? Is increasing​ income inequality and a federal überstate really the stuff that our dreams are made of? I doubt it.

History ought to act as a deterrent. During the 1930s our economies didn’t come out of the depression until the folly of that time — the gold standard — was thrown on the dustbin of history. The euro will hopefully soon join it.

Economists have a tendency to get enthralled by their theories and model​​ and forget that behind the figures and abstractions there is a real world with real people. Real people that have to pay dearly for fundamentally flawed doctrines and recommendations.

The ‘European idea’—or better: ideology—notwithstanding, the euro has split Europe in two. As the engine of an ever-closer union the currency’s balance sheet has been disastrous. Norway and Switzerland will not be joining the eu any time soon; Britain is actively considering leaving it altogether. Sweden and Denmark were supposed to adopt the euro at some point; that is now off the table. The Eurozone itself is split between surplus and deficit countries, North and South, Germany and the rest. At no point since the end of World War Two have its nation-states confronted each other with so much hostility; the historic achievements of European unification have never been so threatened …

Anyone wishing to understand how an institution such as the single currency can wreak such havoc needs a concept of money that goes beyond that of the liberal economic tradition and the sociological theory informed by it. The conflicts in the Eurozone can only be decoded with the aid of an economic theory that can conceive of money not merely as a system of signs that symbolize claims and contractual obligations, but also, in tune with Weber’s view, as the product of a ruling organization, and hence as a contentious and contested institution with distributive consequences full of potential for conflict …

NLR95coverNow more than ever there is a grotesque gap between capitalism’s intensifying reproduction problems and the collective energy needed to resolve them … This may mean that there is no guarantee that the people who have been so kind as to present us with the euro will be able to protect us from its consequences, or will even make a serious attempt to do so. The sorcerer’s apprentices will be unable to let go of the broom with which they aimed to cleanse Europe of its pre-modern social and anti-capitalist foibles, for the sake of a neoliberal transformation of its capitalism. The most plausible scenario for the Europe of the near and not-so-near future is one of growing economic disparities—and of increasing political and cultural hostility between its peoples, as they find themselves flanked by technocratic attempts to undermine democracy on the one side, and the rise of new nationalist parties on the other. These will seize the opportunity to declare themselves the authentic champions of the growing number of so-called losers of modernization, who feel they have been abandoned by a social democracy that has embraced the market and globalization.

Wolfgang Streeck

Höjd lön för lärare ett måste

30 May, 2018 at 08:46 | Posted in Education & School | Comments Off on Höjd lön för lärare ett måste

År efter år ser vi hur viljan att bli lärare minskar. I början på 1980-talet fanns det nästan åtta sökande per plats på lågstadielärarutbildningen. Idag är det inte mycket mer än en sökande per plats på grundlärarutbildningen.

Enligt UKÄ har det totala antalet sökande individer till lärarutbildningar sjunkit från ht 2017 till ht 2018 med över 5 procent (för förskollärare var minskningen över 13 procent). Under höstterminen 2016 var söktrycket till förskollärarutbildning 1,9 sökande per antagen och för ämneslärarutbildning med inriktning mot årskurs 7–9 1,2 sökande per antagen.

Detta är ett samhällsproblem som vi borde tala om. I en värld där allt hänger på kunskap är det på sikt avgörande för svensk ekonomi att åter göra läraryrket attraktivt.

I Sverige har levnadsstandarden mätt som per capitainkomst ökat med en faktor på över 50 sedan mitten av 1800-talet. Överlag är människor i västvärlden idag mer tjugo gånger rikare än vad de var för ett och ett halvt sekel sedan. Dess befolkning har en förväntad livstid som är nästan dubbelt så hög som förfädernas. Vad har skapat denna ökning i välfärd och levnadsstandard?

Kunskaper är ett slags instruktioner eller recept som talar om hur vi kan använda våra resurser för att producera nyttigheter. Med bättre kunskaper kan tillväxten öka även om de materiella resurserna är begränsade. Till skillnad från människor (med sina speciella färdigheter och utbildning) och ting (aktier, maskiner, naturtillgångar) styrs kunskap av stigande avkastning. Ett föremål (en portion mat) kan bara konsumeras av en enskild person vid ett tillfälle, medan kunskap (matreceptet) kan användas av hur många som helst när som helst.

Så kunskapsproduktion har en helt avgörande betydelse för skapandet av nationernas välfärd. Och om idéer och kunskaper spelar en så avgörande roll för långsiktig tillväxt och välfärd borde betydligt mer av samhällsdebatten handla om utbildningsstrategier, forskningssatsningar och lärarlöner.

En av de absolut viktigaste förklaringarna till den katastrofala utvecklingen vad avser sökande till lärarutbildningarna i Sverige är att lärarlönerna under lång tid har urholkats. Sveriges lärare ligger idag ligger lång ner på lönelistan inom OECD.

Ser vi på hur lärarnas reallöner utvecklats de senaste fyra decennierna är det egentligen märkligt att någon i det här landet över huvud kan tänka sig bli lärare:

Källa: LR, SCB och egna beräkningar.

Saco undersökte för några år sedan hur livslöneberäkningar av hur olika utbildningsval lönar sig sett över hela livet. Resultatet jämfördes med en genomsnittlig individ som börjar förvärvsarbeta direkt efter gymnasiet. Studien försökte skatta vad olika akademiska utbildningsval innebär i ekonomiska termer, med hänsynstagande till inkomstbortfall och skuldsättning under studietiden, inkomstskatter m m.

För lärare var det en deprimerande läsning. Det visade sig nämligen att det är en ren förlustaffär att utbilda sig till lärare. För samtliga lärarutbildningar gäller att de ger en negativ avkastning – de har alltså sämre livslön än de som börjar jobba direkt efter gymnasiet istället för att skaffa sig en högskoleexamen.

Höjda lärarlöner är inte en tillräcklig förutsättning för att vi åter ska få en svensk skola av världsklass. Men det är en nödvändig förutsättning! Omfattande skolforskning har övertygande visat att det kommunala huvudmannaskapet är en av de viktigaste orsakerna bakom lärarlönernas och den svenska skolans kräftgång de senaste decennierna.

De politiska partierna måste droppa sina ideologiska skygglappar och inse att en och annan helig ko måste slaktas om vi ska få rätt på svensk skola. Folkpartiet insåg redan för nästan tio år sedan att när skolfakta sparkar så får man vara så god att ändra kurs – även om det eventuellt skulle stå i strid med ideologin. När ska övriga partier våga ta det steget?

Ska läraryrkets attraktionskraft upp är höjda löner ett måste! Ska det vara så svårt att begripa? Det finns inga gratisluncher. Vill vi ha en svensk skola i världsklass så måste det få kosta. Höj lärarlönerna. För Sveriges ekonomi. Och för Sveriges framtid.

The ultimate takedown​ of teflon-coated defenders of rational expectations

29 May, 2018 at 22:45 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on The ultimate takedown​ of teflon-coated defenders of rational expectations

heckman

James Heckman, winner of the “Nobel Prize” in economics, was inteviewed by John Cassidy in 2010.

What about the rational-expectations hypothesis, the other big theory associated with modern Chicago? How does that stack up now? …

It became a kind of tautology that had enormously powerful policy implications, in theory. But the fact is, it didn’t have any empirical content. When Tom Sargent, Lard Hansen, and others tried to test it using cross equation restrictions, and so on, the data rejected the theories. There were a certain section of people that really got carried away. It became quite stifling …

What about you? When rational expectations was sweeping economics, what was your reaction to it? I know you are primarily a micro guy, but what did you think?

What struck me was that we knew Keynesian theory was still alive in the banks and on Wall Street. Economists in those areas relied on Keynesian models to make short-run forecasts. It seemed strange to me that they would continue to do this if it had been theoretically proven that these models didn’t work.

What about the efficient-markets hypothesis? Did Chicago economists go too far in promoting that theory, too?

Some did. But there is a lot of diversity here. You can go office to office and get a different view …

So, today, what survives of the Chicago School? What is left? …

When Friedman died, a couple of years ago, we had a symposium for the alumni devoted to the Friedman legacy. I was talking about the permanent income hypothesis; Lucas was talking about rational expectations. We have some bright alums. One woman got up and said, “Look at the evidence on 401k plans and how people misuse them, or don’t use them. Are you really saying that people look ahead and plan ahead rationally?” And Lucas said, “Yes, that’s what the theory of rational expectations says, and that’s part of Friedman’s legacy.” I said, “No, it isn’t. He was much more empirically minded than that.” People took one part of his legacy and forgot the rest. They moved too far away from the data.

Yes indeed, they certainly “moved too far away from the data.”

In one of the more well-known and highly respected evaluation reviews made, Michael Lovell (1986) concluded:

it seems to me that the weight of empirical evidence is sufficiently strong to compel us to suspend belief in the hypothesis of rational expectations, pending the accumulation of additional empirical evidence.

And this is how Nikolay Gertchev summarizes studies on the empirical correctness of the hypothesis:

More recently, it even has been argued that the very conclusions of dynamic models assuming rational expectations are contrary to reality: “the dynamic implications of many of the specifications that assume rational expectations and optimizing behavior are often seriously at odds with the data” (Estrella and Fuhrer 2002, p. 1013). It is hence clear that if taken as an empirical behavioral assumption, the RE hypothesis is plainly false; if considered only as a theoretical tool, it is unfounded and selfcontradictory.

For even more on the issue, permit me to self-indulgently recommend reading my article Rational expectations — a fallacious foundation for macroeconomics in a non-ergodic world in real-world economics review no. 62.

Vi bor på landet

29 May, 2018 at 14:54 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Vi bor på landet

 

Courage on display in Paris

28 May, 2018 at 15:11 | Posted in Varia | 1 Comment


Courage is not anything very common, and the value we put on it is a witness to its rarity. Courage is a capability to confront fear. Courage is to do the right thing in spite of danger and fear. To keep on even if opportunities to turn back are given. Like in the great stories. The ones where people have lots of chances of turning back — but don’t.

ken

L’Italia verso nuove elezioni

28 May, 2018 at 14:25 | Posted in Politics & Society | Comments Off on L’Italia verso nuove elezioni

populismoSergio Mattarella non ha accettato che un avversario dichiarato della permamenza dell’Italia all’eurozona, Paolo Savona, diventasse il prossimo ministro delle finanze. Giuseppe Conte, l’uomo che avrebbe dovuto diventare il prossimo presidente del consiglio, ne ha immediatamente preso atto rinunciando alla possibilità di formare un governo. A questo punto è molto probabile che l’Italia vada incontro a nuove elezioni. Dato che difficilmente si potrà votare prima della fine di settembre, la terza economia dell’Unione resterà senza una guida per diversi mesi.

Per i leader della Lega e del Movimento 5 stelle, i due partiti che avevano trovato un accordo per governare insieme, il colpevole è il capo dello stato, che avrebbe agito spinto dalle pressioni della Francia, della Germania e del mondo della finanza. “L’Italia non è una colonia, non siamo schiavi dei tedeschi o dei francesi, dello spread o della finanza”, ha attaccato Matteo Salvini, capo della Lega. Lo spread è lo scarto tra il tasso d’interesse sui titoli di stato decennali italiani e quelli tedeschi, aumentato vertiginosamente dopo l’annuncio della nascita di una coalizione tra l’estrema destra della Lega e il Movimento 5 stelle, il cui giovane capo, Luigi Di Maio, ha usato toni simili a quelli di Salvini.

Internazionale

Given what most of us think about far-right populists in Italy and elsewhere, it is easy to rejoice in Matarella’s decision. But the reasoning behind it is, to say the least, less convincing …

I concede that there are issues over which I would welcome the Italian President’s use of constitutional powers that (in my humble opinion) he should not have.(*) One such issue is the outrageous policy of the Lega and the promise of its leader, Mr Salvini, to expel five hundred thousand migrants from Italy. Had President Mattarella refused Mr Salvini the post of Interior Minister, on the basis that he rejects such a monstrous project, I would be compelled to support him. But, no, Mr Mattarella had no such qualms. Not even for a moment did he consider vetoing the formation of a 5S-Lega government on the basis that there is no place in a European country for scenes involving security forces rounding up hundreds of thousands of people, caging them, and forcing them into trains, buses and ferries before expelling them goodness knows where.

No, Mr Mattarella vetoed the formation of a government backed by an absolute majority of lawmakers for another reason: His disapproval of the Finance Minister designate. And what was this disapproval based on? The fact that the said gentleman, while fully qualified for the job, and despite his declaration that he would abide by the EU’s eurozone rules, has in the past expressed doubts about the eurozone’s architecture and has favoured a plan of euro exit just in case it is needed.

Yanis Varoufakis

Diversity bonuses — the idea

28 May, 2018 at 12:43 | Posted in Theory of Science & Methodology | Comments Off on Diversity bonuses — the idea


If you’d like to learn more on the issue, have a look at James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds (Anchor Books, 2005) or Scott Page’s The Diversity Bonus (Princeton University Press, 2017). For an illustrative example, see here.

Behavioural economics — still too devoted to ideas it is supposedly attacking

27 May, 2018 at 13:45 | Posted in Economics | 3 Comments

Behavioral economics is still ‘in a relationship’ with orthodox economics and, in a relationship, one makes compromises …

maxresdefaultWe all know how stubborn the other side in this relationship is: standard economics will always ‘rationalize’ behavior wherever it can and will only recognize ‘irrationality’ when there is clear and convincing evidence of it. Understandably, behavioral economics devoted itself to finding this evidence – the “anomalies”, in the words of Thaler (1988), which are “difficult to “rationalize”. And surely, it has done an impressive job in finding them.

However, accepting this burden of proof remains problematic, for several reasons. Firstly, it will lead to false positives; ‘rationalizing’ behavior where rationality might, in reality, be absent. What’s more, in doing this, the field will repeatedly lend credence to the flawed concept of the homo economicus. Secondly, it will lead to false negatives; failing to observe ‘irrationality’ (like altruism) when clear and convincing evidence of it is lacking, or perhaps even impossible to produce, thereby ignoring the complexity of human motives …

All of the above is not meant to downplay the achievements of behavioral economics … It is to argue that behavioral economics should not let its “symbiotic relationship” with standard economics limit its own ambitions. This relationship “works well as long as small changes to standard assumptions are made”. We should not fear bigger changes.

Alexander Beunder

Although discounting empirical evidence cannot be the right way to solve economic issues, there are still, in my opinion, a couple of weighty reasons why we perhaps shouldn’t be too excited about the so-called ’empirical revolution’ that behavioural economics has brought about in mainstream economics.

behBehavioural experiments and laboratory research face the same basic problem as theoretical models — they are built on often rather artificial conditions and have difficulties with the ‘trade-off’ between internal and external validity. The more artificial conditions, the more internal validity, but also less external validity. The more we rig experiments to avoid the ‘confounding factors’, the less the conditions are reminiscent of the real ‘target system.’ The nodal issue is how economists using different isolation strategies in different ‘nomological machines’ attempt to learn about causal relationships. One may have justified doubts on the generalizability of this research strategy since the probability is high that causal mechanisms are different in different contexts and that lack of homogeneity and invariance doesn’t give us warranted export licenses to the ‘real’ societies or economies.

If we see experiments or laboratory research as theory tests or models that ultimately aspire to say something about the real ‘target system,’ then the problem of external validity is central (and was for a long time also a key reason why behavioural economists had trouble getting their research results published).

A standard procedure in behavioural economics — think of e.g. dictator or ultimatum games — is to set up a situation where one induce people to act according to the standard microeconomic — homo oeconomicus — benchmark model. In most cases, the results show that people do not behave as one would have predicted from the benchmark model, in spite of the setup almost invariably being ‘loaded’ for that purpose. [And in those cases where the result is consistent with the benchmark model, one, of course, have to remember that this in no way proves the benchmark model to be right or ‘true,’ since there, as a rule, may be many outcomes that are consistent with that model.]

For most heterodox economists this is just one more reason for giving up on the standard model. But not so for mainstreamers and many behaviouralists. To them, the empirical results are not reasons for giving up on their preferred hardcore axioms. So they set out to ‘save’ or ‘repair’ their model and try to ‘integrate’ the empirical results into mainstream economics. Instead of accepting that the homo oeconomicus model has zero explanatory real-world value, one puts lipstick on the pig and hope to go on with business as usual. Why we should keep on using that model as a benchmark when everyone knows it is false is something we are never told. Instead of using behavioural economics and its results as building blocks for a progressive alternative research program, the ‘save and repair’ strategy immunizes a hopelessly false and irrelevant model.

By this, I do not mean to say that empirical methods per se are so problematic that they can never be used. On the contrary, I am basically — though not without reservations — in favour of the increased use of behavioural experiments and laboratory research within economics. Not least as an alternative to completely barren ‘bridge-less’ axiomatic-deductive theory models. My criticism is more about aspiration levels and what we believe that we can achieve with our mediational epistemological tools and methods in the social sciences.

The increasing use of natural and quasi-natural experiments in economics during the last couple of decades has led several prominent economists to triumphantly declare it as a major step on a recent path toward empirics, where instead of being a deductive philosophy, economics is now increasingly becoming an inductive science.

Limiting model assumptions in economic science always have to be closely examined since if we are going to be able to show that the mechanisms or causes that we isolate and handle in our models are stable in the sense that they do not change when we ‘export’ them to our ‘target systems,’ we have to be able to show that they do not only hold under ceteris paribus conditions and a fortiori only are of limited value to our understanding, explanations or predictions of real economic systems.

‘Ideally controlled experiments’ tell us with certainty what causes what effects — but only given the right ‘closures.’ Making appropriate extrapolations from (ideal, accidental, natural or quasi) experiments to different settings, populations or target systems, is not easy. ‘It works there’ is no evidence for ‘it will work here.’ Causes deduced in an experimental setting still have to show that they come with an export-warrant to the target system. The causal background assumptions made have to be justified, and without licenses to export, the value of ‘rigorous’ and ‘precise’ methods is despairingly small.

So — although it is good that people like Kahneman and Thaler are rewarded ‘Nobel prizes’ and that much of their research has vastly undermined the lure of axiomatic-deductive mainstream economics, there is still a long way to go before economics has become a truly empirical science. The great challenge for the future economics is not to develop methodologies and theories for well-controlled laboratories, but to develop relevant methodologies and theories for the messy world in which we happen to live.

Modern division of labour …

27 May, 2018 at 11:05 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

graeberpicture

The follies and fallacies of Chicago​ economics

27 May, 2018 at 10:29 | Posted in Economics | 2 Comments

 

Gier auf Geld

27 May, 2018 at 00:34 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Gier auf Geld

 

Mainstream economics — peddling fake knowledge

26 May, 2018 at 11:09 | Posted in Economics | 9 Comments

Based on the [quantity theory of money equation MV = PQ] holding the money velocity constant, if the money supply (M) increases at a faster rate than real economic output (Q), the price level (P) must increase to make up the difference. According to this view, inflation in the U.S. should have been about 31 percent per year between 2008 and 2013, when the money supply grew at an average pace of 33 percent per year and output grew at an average pace just below 2 percent. Why, then, has inflation remained persistently low (below 2 percent) during this period? …

During the first and second quarters of 2014, the velocity of the monetary base2 was at 4.4, its slowest pace on record. This means that every dollar in the monetary base was spent only 4.4 times in the economy during the past year, down from 17.2 just prior to the recession. This implies that the unprecedented monetary base increase driven by the Fed’s large money injections through its large-scale asset purchase programs has failed to cause at least a one-for-one proportional increase in nominal GDP. Thus, it is precisely the sharp decline in velocity that has offset the sharp increase in money supply, leading to the almost no change in nominal GDP (either P or Q).

5267109005_ac183b2699So why did the monetary base increase not cause a proportionate increase in either the general price level or GDP? The answer lies in the private sector’s dramatic increase in their willingness to hoard money instead of spend it. Such an unprecedented increase in money demand has slowed down the velocity of Money …

And why then would people suddenly decide to hoard money instead of spend it? A possible answer lies in the combination of two issues:
•A glooming economy after the financial crisis
•The dramatic decrease in interest rates that has forced investors to readjust their portfolios toward liquid money and away from interest-bearing assets such as government bonds.

Yi Wen & Maria Arias (St. Louis Fed)

Anyone still believing in Say’s Law? Just wondering …

Chicago delirium VSOP

25 May, 2018 at 19:09 | Posted in Economics | 3 Comments

 
2011-10-26-dumb_and_dumber-533x299

lucasbob-1Macroeconomics was born as a distinct field in the 1940s (sic!), as a part of the intellectual response to the Great Depression. The term then referred to the body of knowledge and expertise that we hoped would prevent the recurrence of that economic disaster. My thesis in this lecture is that macroeconomics in this original sense has succeeded: Its central problem of depression-prevention has been solved, for all practical purposes, and has in fact been solved for many decades.

Robert Lucas (2003)

In the past, I think you have been quoted as saying that you don’t even believe in the possibility of bubbles.

eugeneEugene Fama: I never said that. I want people to use the term in a consistent way. For example, I didn’t renew my subscription to The Economist because they use the world bubble three times on every page. Any time prices went up and down—I guess that is what they call a bubble. People have become entirely sloppy. People have jumped on the bandwagon of blaming financial markets. I can tell a story very easily in which the financial markets were a casualty of the recession, not a cause of it.

That’s your view, correct?

Fama: Yeah.

John Cassidy

4703325Suppose someone sits down where you are sitting right now and announces to me that he is Napoleon Bonaparte. The last thing I want to do with him is to get involved in a technical discussion of cavalry tactics at the battle of Austerlitz. If I do that, I’m getting tacitly drawn into the game that he is Napoleon. Now, Bob Lucas and Tom Sargent like nothing better than to get drawn into technical discussions, because then you have tacitly gone along with their fundamental assumptions; your attention is attracted away from the basic weakness of the whole story. Since I find that fundamental framework ludicrous, I respond by treating it as ludicrous – that is, by laughing at it – so as not to fall into the trap of taking it seriously and passing on to matters of technique.

Robert Solow

Things have changed (II)

25 May, 2018 at 19:00 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Things have changed (II)

 
1968

The evidential sine qua non

24 May, 2018 at 18:10 | Posted in Theory of Science & Methodology | Comments Off on The evidential sine qua non

612090-W-Edwards-Deming-Quote-In-God-we-trust-all-others-bring-data

Things have changed …

24 May, 2018 at 15:41 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Things have changed …

 

Why the p-value is a poor substitute for scientific​ reasoning

24 May, 2018 at 15:07 | Posted in Statistics & Econometrics | Comments Off on Why the p-value is a poor substitute for scientific​ reasoning

 

A non-trivial part of teaching statistics is made up of learning students to perform significance testing. A problem I have noticed repeatedly over the years, however, is that no matter how careful you try to be in explicating what the probabilities generated by these statistical tests really are, still most students misinterpret them.

This is not to blame on students’ ignorance, but rather on significance testing not being particularly transparent (conditional probability inference is difficult even to those of us who teach and practice it). A lot of researchers fall prey​ to the same mistakes.

If anything, the above video underlines how important it is not to equate science with statistical calculation. All science entail human judgement, and using statistical models doesn’t relieve us of that necessity. Working with misspecified models, the scientific value of significance testing is actually zero —  even though you’re making valid statistical inferences! Statistical models and concomitant significance tests are no substitutes for doing real science.

In its standard form, a significance test is not the kind of ‘severe test’ that we are looking for in our search for being able to confirm or disconfirm empirical scientific hypotheses. This is problematic for many reasons, one being that there is a strong tendency to accept the null hypothesis since they can’t be rejected at the standard 5% significance level. In their standard form, significance tests bias against new hypotheses by making it hard to disconfirm the null hypothesis.

And as shown over and over again when it is applied, people have a tendency to read “not disconfirmed” as “probably confirmed.” Standard scientific methodology tells us that when there is only say a 10 % probability that pure sampling error could account for the observed difference between the data and the null hypothesis, it would be more “reasonable” to conclude that we have a case of disconfirmation. Especially if we perform many independent tests of our hypothesis and they all give ​the same 10% result as our reported one, I guess most researchers would count the hypothesis as even more disconfirmed.

Most importantly — we should never forget that the underlying parameters we use when performing significance tests are model constructions. Our p-values mean next to nothing if the model is wrong. Statistical​ significance tests DO NOT validate models!

statistical-models-theory-and-practice-2-e-original-imaeahk3hfzrmxz9In journal articles a typical regression equation will have an intercept and several explanatory variables. The regression output will usually include an F-test, with p-1 degrees of freedom in the numerator and n-p in the denominator. The null hypothesis will not be stated. The missing null hypothesis is that all the coefficients vanish, except the intercept.

If F is significant, that is often thought to validate the model. Mistake. The F-test takes the model as given. Significance only means this: if the model is right and the coefficients are 0, it is very unlikely to get such a big F-statistic. Logically, there are three possibilities on the table:
i) An unlikely event occurred.
ii) Or the model is right and some of the coefficients differ from 0.
iii) Or the model is wrong.
So?

The truth about what money really is

24 May, 2018 at 12:44 | Posted in Economics | 4 Comments

 

The ugly truth about gangsters of finance

24 May, 2018 at 12:26 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on The ugly truth about gangsters of finance

 

Soziale Spaltung wird durch Privatschulen zementiert

23 May, 2018 at 21:45 | Posted in Education & School | Comments Off on Soziale Spaltung wird durch Privatschulen zementiert

inklusion_by_thomas_plassmann_6Der Bildungswissenschaftler Marcel Helbig hat für das Wissenschaftszentrum in Berlin die soziale Spaltung in Deutschland messbar gemacht. In seiner aktuellen Studie … hat er zusammen mit seiner Kollegin Stefanie Jähnen gewaltige Datenmengen aus 74 deutschen Städten ausgewertet. Er wollte wissen, wie sich einkommensschwache Menschen auf die Stadtgebiete verteilen. Das Ergebnis: Bis auf wenige Ausnahmen ist die Segregation in Deutschland gestiegen. Arme und Reiche, aber auch Akademiker und Arbeiter bleiben immer mehr unter sich. “In Berlin leben etwa 25 Prozent der armen Kinder in Gebieten, in denen sich Armut massiv ballt”, sagt Helbig. Umgekehrt gebe es Viertel, in denen Kinder gar keine armen Menschen mehr kennen. “Diese soziale Spaltung wird durch Privatschulen noch zementiert”, sagt der Forscher. Denn die boomen: In den vergangenen 20 Jahren hat sich die Zahl der Privatschüler um 30 Prozent erhöht, die Anzahl der privaten Grundschulen sogar vervierfacht. “Das ist ein ernsthafter Hinweis darauf, dass Privatschulen genutzt werden, um sich bestimmten sozialen Gruppen zu entziehen”, sagt Helbig …

“Die sozialen Unterschiede sind da am größten, wo ein gewisses Abgrenzungsbedürfnis gegenüber Hartz-IV- oder Migrantenfamilien vorhanden ist”, sagt der Bildungsforscher Helbig. “Ich habe absolutes Verständnis dafür, dass die Eltern das Beste für ihre Kinder wollen – aber gesamtgesellschaftlich betrachtet wird so Ungleichheit noch verstärkt.”

Fabienne Hurst/Die Zeit

Was uns Marx heute noch zu sagen hat

23 May, 2018 at 20:02 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Was uns Marx heute noch zu sagen hat

 

Phishing for Phools

23 May, 2018 at 18:13 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Phishing for Phools


As always a pleasure listening to this great and sympathetic economist!
[The book is an interesting and enjoyable read, but perhaps not as ‘innovative’ as the authors seem to think (especially vis-a-vis ‘behavioural economics’ they​ — unconvincingly​ — maintain their approach is “much more general” and in the spirit of “general equilibrium analysis.” That kind of contrived positioning is rather unnecessary​ since even if you’ve heard much of the story before from people like Tversky, Kahneman, or Thaler, it does not make the message less convincing or important!)]

Regression to the mean

23 May, 2018 at 08:52 | Posted in Statistics & Econometrics | Comments Off on Regression to the mean

Regression to the men is nothing but the universal truth of the fact that whenever we have an imperfect correlation between two scores, we have regression to the mean.

Getsemane

23 May, 2018 at 08:23 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Getsemane

 

Man vänjer sig …

23 May, 2018 at 00:01 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Man vänjer sig …

 

När Ekonomistas är som bäst

22 May, 2018 at 16:02 | Posted in Education & School | Comments Off on När Ekonomistas är som bäst

VlachosFör att utröna vilka effekter skolval har är det naturligtvis centralt att känna till vilken typ av skolor familjer föredrar. Det finns i princip två sätt att få kunskap kring detta: man kan fråga familjer vilken typ av skolor de uppskattar och man kan observera vilka skolor familjer faktiskt väljer. Vilken metod man väljer kan ge väldigt olika svar, vilket manifesteras i en debattartikel av Almega och Friskolornas Riksförbund som hävdar att obligatoriskt skolval är ett sätt att minska den sociala skolsegregationen.

Artikeln är baserad på en enkätundersökning som bland annat kommer fram till att föräldrar med svaga socioekonomiska förutsättningar värdesätter skolor med bra akademiska resultat särskilt högt. Socioekonomiskt starka familjer värderar däremot trivsel högre. Detta resultat påstås i rapportsammanfattningen vara i linje med vad den internationella forskningen visar, men att socioekonomiskt starka familjer skulle värdesätta skolors akademiska nivå lägre än socioekonomiskt svaga är minst sagt kontraintuitivt. Det kan därför vara bra att klargöra vad den internationella forskningen kring skolval egentligen kommit fram till.

En färsk studie från New York, som är under revidering för American Economic Review, finner att familjer söker sig till skolor (i detta fall high-schools) med högpresterande elever. Detta gäller för samtliga undersökta elevgrupper men resultaten visar att elever som själva är högpresterande är särskilt benägna att välja skolor med högpresterande elever. Däremot finns det inget som tyder på familjer skulle vara särskilt benägna att välja skolor som förvaltar sitt elevmaterial väl. Att en skola har ett högt ”förädlingsvärde” lockar alltså inte fler att välja den. Inte heller är familjer mer benägna att välja skolor som enligt studiens statistiska analys skulle passa just deras barn särskilt väl …

Liknande resultat går igen i andra studier. En välkänd sådan från North Carolina finner att familjer med stark socioekonomisk bakgrund är särskilt benägna att välja skolor med goda resultat, vilket alltså i hög grad fångar skolans elevsammansättning. Studien finner också att familjer från olika minoritetsgrupper har en tydlig preferens för skolor där respektive minoritetsgrupp är välrepresenterad. Lika söker alltså i hög grad lika.

Det finns även en svensk rapport som undersöker familjers faktiska skolval (lågstadiet). Hur en skola presterar på de nationella proven är inte särskilt viktigt medan avstånd till hemmet har betydelse. Vidare gör hög andel elever med utländsk bakgrund gör en skola mindre attraktiv, särskilt då för lågutbildade familjer med svensk bakgrund och högutbildade familjer med utländsk bakgrund. Skolor med många nyanlända ratas dock främst av svenska högutbildade familjer. Familjer med svensk bakgrund, speciellt de högutbildade, verkar även angelägna att välja skolor med socioekonomiskt starka elever, något som familjer med utländsk bakgrund verkar undvika. Generellt verkar familjer söka sig till skolor där eleverna tillhör samma socioekonomisk grupp som en själv. Lika söker återigen lika …

Snarare än att förlita sig på vad familjer uppger i enkäter är det önskvärt att studier av skolval baseras på hur familjer faktiskt väljer skolor. Det är trots allt vad familjer gör och inte vad de säger som i slutändan spelar roll för vilka konsekvenser skolvalet får. Dessutom spelar skolvalets utformning roll och ordningen med urval baserat på kötid till populära friskolor är med största sannolikhet något som förstärker skolvalets segregerande effekter. Oavsett skolvalets utformning måste dock slutsatsen från forskningen kring familjers preferenser vara att skolval knappast kan vara ett särskilt verksamt verktyg för att bryta den sociala skolsegregationen.

Jonas Vlachos

Som alltid initierat, relevant och intressant från en av våra duktiga yngre skolforskare.

Ekonomistas blandar allt från etablissemangsekonomers färdigtuggade skräpmat till synnerligen läsvärda artiklar från yngre forskare som Jonas Vlachos.

Sovra och läs!

Krugman’s Gadget Keynesianism

22 May, 2018 at 14:04 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

Paul Krugman has often been criticized by people like yours truly for getting things pretty wrong on the economics of John Maynard Keynes.

krugmanWhen Krugman has responded to the critique, by himself rather gratuitously portrayed as about “What Keynes Really Meant,” the overall conclusion is — “Krugman Doesn’t Care.”

Responding to an earlier post of mine questioning his IS-LM-Keynesianism, Krugman write:

Surely we don’t want to do economics via textual analysis of the masters. The questions one should ask about any economic approach are whether it helps us understand what’s going on​ and whether it provides useful guidance for decisions.

So I don’t care whether Hicksian IS-LM is Keynesian in the sense that Keynes himself would have approved of it, and neither should you.

The reason for this rather debonair attitude seems to be that history of economic thought may be OK, but what really counts is if reading Keynes gives birth to new and interesting insights and ideas.

No serious economist would question that explaining and understanding “what’s going on” in our economies is the most important task economists can set themselves — but it is not the only task.  And to compare one’s favourite economic gadget model to what madmen from Chicago have conjured up, well, that’s like playing tennis with the nets down, and we have to have higher aspirations as scientists.

There is also a somewhat disturbing and unbecoming coquetry in his attitude towards great forerunners. It smacks not so little of hubris to simply say “if where you take the idea is very different from what the great man said somewhere else in his book, so what?” Physicists arguing like that when discussing Newton, Einstein, Bohr or Feynman would not be taken seriously.

The absolute all-time low in Krugman’s response is this remarkable passage:

Has declaring uncertainty to be unquantifiable, and mathematical modelling in any form foolish, been productive? Remember, that’s what the Austrians say too.

I won’t comment on the shameful guilt-by-association part of the quote, but re uncertainty it’s absolutely gobsmacking how Krugman manages to mix up the ontological question — is the economy permeated by calculable risk or by genuine and often incalculable uncertainty  — with the epistemological question — how do we manage to analyze and model such an economy. Here Krugman seems to say — much in the spirit of Robert Lucas — that if reality is uncertain and non-ergodic, well then let’s just pretend it’s ergodic and susceptible to standard probabilistic analysis so that we can go on with our mathematical modelling! In other areas of science that would rightfully be considered fraud, but in modern mainstream economics, it’s obviously thought of as an unproblematic and justified procedure.

Being able to model a ‘gadget world’ — a world that somehow could be considered real or similar to the real world — is not the same as investigating the real world. Even though all theories in a strict sense are false, they cannot be unrealistic or false in any way. The falsehood or unrealisticness has to be qualified.

Where does all this leave us? Well, I for one, is not the least impressed by Krugman’s gadget interpretation of economics. And if labels are as uninteresting as he says — well, then I suggest Krugman and other ‘New Keynesians’ stop calling themselves Keynesians at all. I’m pretty sure Keynes would have appreciated not having his theories and thoughts being referred to by people having preciously little to do with those theories and thoughts.

People having bad luck when trying to think

20 May, 2018 at 18:47 | Posted in Economics | 4 Comments

A couple of years ago Andrew Lilico wrote an article in The Telegraph arguing that good economists almost always are mirabile dictu — right:

badluckLord Turner wrote two reports creating important government policies based on his claim that people are often irrational — his pension review of 2005 and his report on the financial crisis in 2009. Indeed, in his famous Turner Review of the financial crisis as chairman of the FSA he claimed to be able to demonstrate the failure of almost the entirety of finance theory as it had developed since the 1950s, albeit without feeling the need to name-check the great men who had produced that theory or consider how they might have defended their ideas.

But rationality is not an assumption of orthodox economic theory in that sense. Instead, it is what is called an “axiom”. No behaviour can prove that people aren’t, in fact, rational, because for an orthodox economist the only kind of explanation of any behaviour that counts as an economic explanation is an explanation that makes sense of that behaviour — that shows why the behaviour is rational.

Wooh! Who would have thought anything like that? Build your science on whatever foolish axioms you like — and since they are axioms no one can really criticize them and show that you are wrong.

Impressive indeed … 

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