Wie konnten sie diesen Präsidenten wählen?

31 Aug, 2019 at 10:45 | Posted in Politics & Society | Comments Off on Wie konnten sie diesen Präsidenten wählen?

Gregg Popovich sagt: “Der Mann im Oval Office ist ein seelenloser Feigling, der denkt, er könne groß werden, indem er andere erniedrigt.”

Er sagt: “Wir haben einen pathologischen Lügner im Weißen Haus.”

popEr sagt auch: “Ich würde mich besser fühlen, wenn jemand dieses Amt bekleiden würde, der die Reife sowie das psychologische und emotionale Level gezeigt hat, das andere in seinem Alter haben.”

Und: “Unser Land ist eine Schande.”

Gregg Popovich ist von den vielen Sportpersönlichkeiten, die Donald Trump kritisieren, ziemlich sicher die hartnäckigste …

In San Antonio, wo Trump im Juni 2016 zu seinen Anhängern sprach, trainiert Popovich die Spurs. Fünfmal hat er mit den Spurs die Meisterschaft in der NBA gewonnen, erstmals 1999 und zuletzt 2014. Popovich, 70, ist der erfolgreichste noch aktive Basketballtrainer der Welt – und kaum einer würde der Aussage widersprechen, dass er auch der beste ist. Seit 2016 trainiert Popovich nebenbei das US-amerikanische Nationalteam …

Eine Nationalmannschaft soll ein Land vereinen, politische Gräben verdecken. Popovich aber zeigt auf genau diese Gräben, denn er versteht knapp die Hälfte seiner Landsleute nicht mehr, er fragt sich: Wie konnten sie diesen Präsidenten wählen?

Nico Horn / Die Zeit

Econometric forecasting — no icing on the economist’s cake

29 Aug, 2019 at 21:44 | Posted in Statistics & Econometrics | 1 Comment

twice_two__fav_scene_It is clearly the case that experienced modellers could easily come up with significantly different models based on the same set of data thus undermining claims to researcher-independent objectivity. This has been demonstrated empirically by Magnus and Morgan (1999) who conducted an experiment in which an apprentice had to try to replicate the analysis of a dataset that might have been carried out by three different experts (Leamer, Sims, and Hendry) following their published guidance. In all cases the results were different from each other, and different from that which would have been produced by the expert, thus demonstrating the importance of tacit knowledge in statistical analysis.

Magnus and Morgan conducted a further experiment which involved eight expert teams, from different universities, analysing the same sets of data each using their own particular methodology. The data concerned the demand for food in the US and in the Netherlands and was based on a classic study by Tobin (1950) augmented with more recent data. The teams were asked to estimate the income elasticity of food demand and to forecast per capita food consumption. In terms of elasticities, the lowest estimates were around 0.38 whilst the highest were around 0.74 – clearly vastly different especially when remembering that these were based on the same sets of data. The forecasts were perhaps even more extreme – from a base of around 4000 in 1989 the lowest forecast for the year 2000 was 4130 while the highest was nearly 18000!

John Mingers

Marxisme culturel — histoire d’une notion

28 Aug, 2019 at 16:52 | Posted in Politics & Society | Comments Off on Marxisme culturel — histoire d’une notion

Cette expression connaît aussi un usage savant, surtout aux Etats-Unis. Dans ce cadre, il désigne un courant de pensée inspirée par l’œuvre de Karl Marx, qui fonde sa critique de la société non pas seulement sur une analyse des inégalités générées par le système de production économique, mais aussi sur l’aliénation qu’il engendre à travers la culture entendue au sens large – les arts, la publicité, la vie politique, les institutions, etc.

cultLa formule exacte de « marxisme culturel » serait née dans les années 1970, au sein de la gauche américaine, comme l’a montré le philosophe australien Russell Blackford … Il analyse la crise de la société américaine en s’appuyant sur les outils conceptuels développés par l’école de Francfort. Né en Allemagne dans les années 1920, ce courant de pensée a profondément renouvelé le marxisme en menant une critique radicale de la société bourgeoise et de ses manifestations sociales, culturelles et politiques. Trent Shroyer, qui est l’un de leurs disciples, se félicite de l’essor des mouvements de libération des Noirs et des femmes.

C’est là le lien avec ce que la droite radicale entendra bientôt par « marxisme culturel ». Le terme prend alors une valeur péjorative : il désigne la prétendue volonté des disciples de l’école de Francfort de nuire à la culture occidentale et de s’attaquer à la société traditionnelle en se servant du féminisme, de l’homosexualité et du multiculturalisme. « Au tournant des années 1990, alors que le communisme vient de s’effondrer, les milieux ultra-conservateurs américains voient dans la mondialisation une menace pour l’Occident chrétien, remarque Jérôme Jamin, politiste et philosophe belge, spécialiste des populismes. Ils s’inquiètent aussi de la montée, sur les campus universitaires, du “politiquement correct” qu’ils assimilent à une attaque contre la liberté d’expression ayant pour but d’empêcher les discours ne reconnaissant pas la pleine égalité entre les hommes et les femmes, les Noirs et les Blancs, les hétérosexuels et les homosexuels, etc. » Le terme se diffuse au sein des milieux extrémistes de droite.

Marc-Olivier Bherer / Le Monde

Economics — a primary reason for the rise of inequality

28 Aug, 2019 at 13:08 | Posted in Economics | 13 Comments

In 2004, the Nobel laureate Robert Lucas warned against any revival of efforts to reduce inequality. “Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution.”

ineqAccounts of the rise of inequality often take a fatalistic view. The problem is described as a natural consequence of capitalism, or it is blamed on forces, like globalization or technological change, that are beyond the direct control of policymakers. But much of the fault lies in ourselves, in our collective decision to embrace policies that prioritized efficiency and encouraged the concentration of wealth, and to neglect policies that equalized opportunity and distributed rewards. The rise of economics is a primary reason for the rise of inequality.

And the fact that we caused the problem means the solution is in our power, too …

The market economy remains one of humankind’s most awesome inventions, a powerful machine for the creation of wealth. But the measure of a society is the quality of life throughout the pyramid, not just at the top, and a growing body of research shows that those born at the bottom today have less chance than in earlier generations to achieve prosperity or to contribute to society’s general welfare  …

Willful indifference to the distribution of prosperity over the last half century is an important reason the very survival of liberal democracy is now being tested by nationalist demagogues. I have no special insight into how long the rope can hold, or how much weight it can bear. But I know our shared bonds will last longer if we can find ways to reduce the strain.

Binyamin Appelbaum

Why attractive people you date tend​ to be jerks

28 Aug, 2019 at 10:17 | Posted in Statistics & Econometrics | 2 Comments

The Book of Why_coverHave you ever noticed that, among the people you date, the attractive ones tend to be jerks? Instead of constructing elaborate psychosocial theories, consider a simpler explanation. Your choice of people to date depends on two factors, attractiveness and personality. You’ll take a chance on dating a mean attractive person or a nice unattractive person, and certainly a nice attractive person, but not a mean unattractive person … This creates a spurious negative correlation between attractiveness and personality. The sad truth is that unattractive people are just as mean as attractive people — but you’ll never realize it, because you’ll never date somebody who is both mean and unattractive.

The spurious correlation — ‘collider bias’ — is here induced because the outcome of the two variables is ‘controlled for’.  Mean people are not necessarily attractive, and nor are nice people. Looking only at people that do date, you would however probably guess that the mean ones are attractive. In order to date lack of nicety has to be compensated with attractiveness.

If anything this should be a helpful reminder for economists who nowadays seem to be more than happy to add lots of variables to their regressions ‘controlling for’ omitted variables bias. In this case, dating someone is a collider of multiple causes — attractiveness and personality — that gives the false impression that there is a trade-off between the two variables.

Richard Feynman — le grand explicateur

27 Aug, 2019 at 17:46 | Posted in Education & School | Comments Off on Richard Feynman — le grand explicateur


The Illusion of Certainty

27 Aug, 2019 at 12:52 | Posted in Statistics & Econometrics | Comments Off on The Illusion of Certainty


A day never to be forgotten (personal)

26 Aug, 2019 at 00:10 | Posted in Varia | 2 Comments

Thirty years ago to the day.
A newly wedded couple celebrating in front of the church where the act took place.

People say time heals all wounds.
I wish that was true.
But some wounds never heal — you just learn to live with the scars.

In memory of Kristina Syll — beloved wife and mother of David and Tora.

Dépendance au sentier

25 Aug, 2019 at 15:32 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Dépendance au sentier


Die ‘schwarze Null’ ist kein ideal

25 Aug, 2019 at 14:16 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

Christian Kastrop … ist gewissermaßen der Erfinder der deutschen Schuldenbremse, als Unterabteilungsleiter im Finanzministerium entwickelte er das Konzept einer im Grundgesetz verankerten Regel, die die öffentliche Kreditaufnahme begrenzt. Heute ist Kastrop Europa-Direktor bei der Bertelsmann Stiftung und beschäftigt sich immer noch mit Schulden – nur dass er sie nicht mehr begrenzen will, sondern ermöglichen.

shwarzeAusgerechnet der Erfinder der deutschen Schuldenbremse macht sich also Gedanken darüber, wie die Regierung zusätzliche Kredite aufnehmen kann. “Wir brauchen mehr Flexibilität bei der Finanzierung von Zukunftsaufgaben”, sagt Kastrop. Eine Idee: Nicht der Staat selbst, sondern eine spezielle Investitionsagentur nimmt die Kredite auf und finanziert die Projekte. Die Darlehen würden dann nicht auf die Schuldenbremse angerechnet. Sie wäre zwar noch da, in ihrer Wirkung aber deutlich eingeschränkt.

Wenn man wissen will, was eigentlich passiert ist … muss man sich etwas intensiver mit der Ära Merkel befassen. Genauer gesagt: mit einem Schlüsselsatz ihrer Kanzlerschaft – und mit dessen Folgen …

Vielleicht ist dies das größte Problem an Merkels Satz, wonach Deutschland nicht über seine Verhältnisse leben dürfe: Er nimmt die Verhältnisse als gegeben an, dabei sind sie das Ergebnis politischer Entscheidungen. Wie ein Privathaushalt hat der Staat nicht nur Schulden, sondern auch Vermögen … Merkel wurde für den Abbau der Staatsschulden gefeiert – aber niemand sah, wie dabei das staatliche Vermögen zusammenschrumpfte. Wenn in den vergangenen Jahren mehr investiert worden wäre, dann gäbe es heute mehr Schulplätze, die Züge wären pünktlicher, und die Internetversorgung wäre besser.

Marc Brost & Mark Schieritz / Die Zeit

No matter how much confidence you have in the policies pursued by authorities nowadays, it cannot turn bad austerity policies into good job creating policies. Austerity measures and overzealous and simple-minded fixation on monetary measures and inflation ​are not what it takes to get our limping economies out of their present-day limbo. They simply do not get us out of the ‘magneto trouble’ — and neither does budget deficit discussions where economists and politicians seem to think that cutting government budgets would help us out of recessions and slumps. In a situation where monetary policies have​ become more and more decrepit, the solution is not fiscal austerity, but fiscal expansion!

austerity22We are not going to get out of the present economic doldrums as long as we continue to be obsessed with the insane idea that austerity is the universal medicine. When an economy is already hanging on the ropes, you can’t just cut government spendings. Cutting government expenditures reduces aggregate demand. Lower aggregate demand means lower tax revenues. Lower tax revenues mean​ increased deficits — and calls for even more austerity. And so on, and so on …

The state has the ability to promote full employment and a stable price level – and it ought to use its powers to do so. If that means that it has to take on ​debt and (more or less temporarily) underbalance its budget – so let it be! Public debt is neither good nor bad. It is a means to achieving two over-arching macroeconomic goals – full employment and price stability. What is sacred is not to have a balanced budget or running down public debt regardless of the effects on the macroeconomic goals. If ‘sound finance’, austerity and​ balanced budgets means increased unemployment and destabilizing prices, they have to be abandoned.


25 Aug, 2019 at 09:02 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Trumpology

Four days ago Trump called Danish Prime Minister ‘nasty’
Yesterday he said she was a ‘wonderful woman’

S: That was the worst thing I’ve ever heard!
W: It was terrible!
S: Horrendous!
W: Well it wasn’t that bad.
S: Oh, yeah?
W: Well, there were parts of it I liked!
S: Well, I liked a lot of it.
W: Yeah, it was GOOD actually.
S: It was great!
W: It was wonderful!
S: Yeah, bravo!
W: More!
S: More!

Debt zombies

25 Aug, 2019 at 08:25 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment


Cherry-picking economic models

24 Aug, 2019 at 22:39 | Posted in Economics | 2 Comments

How would you react if a renowned physicist, say, ​Richard Feynman, was telling you that sometimes force is proportional to acceleration and at other times it is proportional to acceleration squared?

cartoon-hand-picking-cherry-24380737I guess you would be unimpressed. But actually, what most mainstream economists do amounts to the same strange thing when it comes to theory development and model modification.

In mainstream economic theory,​ preferences are standardly expressed in the form of a utility function. But although the expected utility theory has been known for a long time to be both theoretically and descriptively inadequate, mainstream economists all over the world gladly continue to use it, as though its deficiencies were unknown or unheard of.

What most mainstream economists try to do in face of the obvious theoretical and behavioural inadequacies of the expected utility theory, is to marginally mend it. But that cannot be the right attitude when facing scientific anomalies. When models are plainly wrong, you’d better replace them! Instead of mending the broken pieces it would be much better to concentrate on developing descriptively accurate models of choice under uncertainty.

Expected utility theory is seriously flawed since it does not take into consideration the basic fact that people’s choices are influenced by changes in their wealth. Where standard microeconomic theory assumes that preferences are stable over time, behavioural economists have forcefully again and again shown that preferences are not fixed, but vary with different reference points. How can a theory that doesn’t allow for people having different reference points from which they consider their options have a (typically unquestioned) axiomatic status within economic theory?

Much of what experimental and behavioural economics come up with, is really bad news for mainstream economic theory. It unequivocally shows that expected utility theory is nothing but transmogrifying truth.

But mainstream economists do not see this​ since they have the weird idea that economics is nothing but a smorgasbord of ‘thought experimental’ models. For every purpose you may have, there is always an appropriate model to pick.

ChameleonBut, really, there have​ to be some limits to the flexibility of a theory!

If you freely can substitute any part of the core and auxiliary sets of assumptions and still consider that you deal with the same theory, well, then it’s not a theory, but a chameleon.

The big problem with the mainstream cherry-picking view of models is of course that the theories and models presented get totally immunized against all critique.  A sure way to get rid of all kinds of ‘anomalies,’ yes, but at a far too high price. So people do not behave optimizing? No problem, we have models that assume satisficing! So people do not maximize expected utility? No problem, we have models that assume … etc., etc …

A theory that accommodates for any observed phenomena whatsoever by creating a new special model for the occasion, and a fortiori having no chance of being tested severely and found wanting, is of little real value.

Les théorèmes d’incomplétude de Gödel

24 Aug, 2019 at 00:02 | Posted in Theory of Science & Methodology | Comments Off on Les théorèmes d’incomplétude de Gödel


Om konsten att läsa och skriva

23 Aug, 2019 at 20:46 | Posted in Varia | 2 Comments

Hur ska man läsa? Det är nog en rätt vanlig fundering alla någon gång har haft kring vårt förhållningssätt till litteratur och läsande.

Själv får jag anledning fundera kring detta när min älskade — som oförtrutet slukar nya böcker i ett rasande tempo — åter igen försöker övertala mig att ställa tillbaka Röda rummet, Hemsöborna, Martin Bircks ungdom, Den allvarsamma leken, Jerusalem eller Gösta Berlings saga i biblioteket och “pröva någon ny bok” för en gångs skull. För henne är det obegripligt att någon ens kommer på tanken att läsa om en roman när det finns så mycket oupptäckt och nytt att kasta sig över i litteraturens underbara värld. För henne — och säkert många andra bokslukare — är det bara dårar som hängivet ägnar sig åt ständiga omläsningar.

Men låt mig trots det försöka försvara oss dårar! Till min hjälp tar jag en bok som jag — just det — läst om gång på gång under mer än tre årtionden. Olof Lagercrantz skriver i sin fantastiskt underbara lilla bok:

konNär vi läser andra gången är det som att läsa en döds biografi eller se vårt liv strax innan vi ska lämna det. Nu står det klart varför den där upplevelsen i första kapitlet gjorde så starkt intryck på hjältinnan. Den avgjorde i själva verket hennes liv. Ett mönster träder fram. Det som var oöverskådligt blir enkelt och begripligt.

Nu kan vi också, liksom vi gör när vi minns vårt eget liv, stanna upp vid särskilt vackra och meningsfulla avsnitt. Vi behöver inte skynda oss ty vi vet fortsättningen. Ingen oro för framtiden hindrar oss att njuta av nuet …

Betänk också, ni som propagerar för läsning av god litteratur, att i samma ögonblick det blir klassat som fint att läsa, som något vilket sätter läsaren i en högre klass än andra, är katastrofen nära. Då är boken i farozonen. Det måste vara ett behov verkande inifrån som driver till läsning.

Jag har läst den mer än tjugo gånger och för var gång blir jag lika uppfylld av glädje och förundran. Dessa nittio sidor fulla av visdom och eftertanke är så oändligt mycket mer värda än all den tyckmyckentrutade blaj som pumpas ut på den alltmer kommersialiserade bokmarknaden. Tag och läs!

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