Home > Uncategorized > Is there a core of heterodox economics that we can all believe in?

Is there a core of heterodox economics that we can all believe in?

from Asad Zaman

In January 1997, the annual convention of the American Economic Association included a session entitled “Is There a Core of Practical Macroeconomics That We Should All Believe?”. Several prominent macro-economists presented their takes on this issue. Since the authors were macroeconomists, it is not surprising that many of them start their papers with a “resounding” yes. However, reading the papers, we find only a host of confusions and contradictions.  When asserting a core belief, each author discusses many controversies surrounding that core belief. Furthermore, the core varies from author to author. Also, after the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-8, none the core beliefs appear to be tenable. None of the extant Macro models contains any suggestion of the possibility of such a severe macroeconomic disturbance.

Readers of the RWER blog have been treated to a virtually inexhaustible collection of critiques of conventional economic theories. Furthermore, the blog posts are only a small sample of critical materials gathered at length in many books and papers. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that conventional economics remains firmly entrenched in universities as well as governments, international institutions and all corridors of power. Given that conventional economics is seriously defective, why is this the case, and what can we do to change thing? 

As Thomas Kuhn noted, conflicts and contradiction do not dislodge prevailing paradigms; only the emergence of an alternative paradigm can do that. Heterodox economists need to agree on a core set of ideas which can be used as foundations for an alternative paradigm. Currently it seems that each heterodox economist is a one-man church. We are all agreed on the idea that conventional economics is wrong, and applaud each other when mud is thrown on the naked emperor. However, we do not even agree on the critique.  To shift metaphors, if the gigantic contradictions and incoherences in conventional economics are the elephant in the room, the heterodox economists are the blind men who each see different parts as a rope, a pipe, a pillar, a wall, etc. and cannot reach agreement.

To construct an effective response requires going beyond critiques. Based on the blog posts, my judgment is that we are not at a stage where we can offer an alternative; there is too much disagreement. I would like to propose a moratorium on pure critiques, and a focused search for points of agreement regarding the required foundations for an alternative paradigm. The particular points chosen as core beliefs are not necessarily the most critical defects of conventional theories, but rather those which command the greatest consensus. The imperative of a united front is more important than particular ideologies.

In my post on WEA Pedagogy Blog: Three Goals for Pedagogical Change   I presented three points which could serve as a basis for a new approach to economics. I do not insist on any of these, but rather them put them forth as a tentative starting point.

  1. It is necessary to re-incorporate moral considerations into economic theory.

DISCUSSION: Conventional economics pretends to be a positive discipline, but is in fact normative. See The Normative Foundations of Scarcity for a detailed argument. The Pareto principle is a normative judgement that the right to property is more important than the rights to basic needs. We don’t need extensive discussions of morality, which would create controversies. A minimal set of principles is sufficient. For instance, all human beings should be provided with equal opportunities for creating a good life for themselves. This involves providing basic needs, healthcare, and educational opportunities to all.

  1. It is necessary to re-incoporate history into economics.

DISCUSSION: I have now moved beyond this position. My paper on The Methodology of Polanyi’s Great Transformation argues that Social, Political and Economic domains of our lives are closely linked, and cannot be studied in isolation. History was removed from economics because it was “un-scientific” – scientific laws are universal, equally applicable to the Aztecs, England, Botswana and India, and invariant across time, holding equally in the Medieval period and in the twenty first century. We must reject this idea, and recognize that history, context, culture, and geography play an essential role in economics.

  1. We must move beyond the ideological battles of free markets versus governments.

DISCUSSION: It is clear that governments are needed. Nobody wants anarchy. Post GFC 2007, there is general agreement that regulations are needed; the un-regulated free market is crisis prone. The question is: what should the scope of the government be? This can be treated as an empirical question; look at historical experience to determine what has worked. The main point is that government activity should not be dismissed on a prior ideological grounds.

I don’t know if these three ideas are the right place to start for building consensus. I do know that consensus is required for an effective counter to conventional economics. It seems clear that we will need a “rainbow coalition”. Given the huge diversity of views expressed on this blog, we will have to agree to cooperate on a limited set of issues on which we have agreement, while each one is free to have sharp disagreements on issues we put outside the bounds of our united endeavor. The first task is to delineate those areas where we can reach agreement and consensus. After discovering common grounds of agreement, we may be able to start building theories which would support, enable, and empower us to achieve common goals.

  1. blocke
    January 25, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    All good points. I would like to comment on point number 3. free markets versus governments. This is the usual formulation but it leaves out the subject of civil society. If, for example, a firm’s constitution provides for co-determination in firm governance, then the need for government-state intervention to regulate civil society may not be necessary. The necessity for state intervention arises when control over civil society is in the hands of a privileged few, e.g. in American firm governance under a regime of director primacy. The bureaucratic alternative has seldom been successful, a well functioning civil society could be.

  2. SLE
    January 25, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Instead of re-integrating moral considerations it would me more useful to integrate different kinds of behavior. Because this can help to explain why marktes are not self-regulating and over time tend to turn into the kind of predatory capitalism we are facing today. If we understand why this happens, we can prevent the market economy from getting like this. Moral considerations are just an excuse for not understanding how markets really work.

    regards
    Stefan

  3. January 25, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Every thinking economist is heterodox by default, but how do we proceed from here?
    Comment on ‘Is there a core of heterodox economics that we can all believe in?’

    Economists do not understand how the market system works. Every interested non-economist gets this intuitively after reading one of the popular textbooks: “What is now taught as standard economic theory will eventually disappear, no trace of it will remain in the universities or boardrooms because it simply doesn’t work: were it engineering, the bridge would collapse.” (McCauley, 2006, p. 17)

    Because of this, every thinking economist finds himself by default in the heterodox camp. But here only one obvious fact is agreed upon, the rest is blank “As will become evident, there is more agreement on the defects of orthodox theory than there is on what theory is to replace it: but all agreed that the point of the criticism is to clear the ground for construction.” (Nell, 1980, p. 1)

    Construction, though, never happened. What we have is an incoherent multitude of individual approaches. Heterodoxy never rose above naive empirical/historical/partial/sociological commonsense analysis and never formulated anything in the way of a general theory of how the monetary economy works.

    Asad Zaman poses the all-decisive question ‘What is the core of Heterodoxy?’ and he gives tentative answers. Asad Zaman is right, Heterodoxy is at the cross-roads and has to define itself and its future.

    Therefore, it is of utmost importance to distinguish between political and theoretical economics. The main differences are: (i) The goal of political economics is to push an agenda, the goal of theoretical economics is to explain how the actual economy works. (ii) In political economics anything goes; in theoretical economics scientific standards are observed.

    Theoretical economics has to be judged according to the criteria true/false and nothing else. What the fundamental decision between theoretical and political economics implies is well-known since the founding fathers: “Mill had grasped clearly in the Logic the distinction between positive and normative propositions, writing that: ‘a scientific observer or reasoner, merely as such, is not an adviser for practice. His part is only to show that certain consequences follow from certain causes, and that to obtain certain ends, certain means are the most effectual. Whether the ends themselves are such as ought to be pursued, and if so, in what cases and to how great a length, it is no part of his business as a cultivator of science to decide, and science alone will never qualify him for the decision’.” (Whitaker, 1975, p. 1047)

    What Mill and all methodologists say is that there is a fundamental difference between politics and science and that, by consequence, both should be kept apart. This separation is analogous to the separation of church and state, or the separation of legislative, judicature, and executive, or the separation of state and economy.

    The classicals defined themselves as Political Economists and their task as: “The fundamental problem, therefore, of the social science, is to find the laws according to which any state of society produces the state which succeeds it and takes it place.” (Mill, 2006, p. 912)

    Now, this is the definition of sociology and political science but NOT of economics. The task of economics is to find out how the actual economy works. Economics is NOT a social science but a system science. The current state of economics is that of a failed science.

    The core problem of economics as a science is, of course, that it is traditionally closely entangled with politics. The biggest threat to theoretical economics is that it gets hijacked by those with a political agenda. It does not matter whether this agenda is good or bad in predetermined moral terms. Science is committed to its own criteria or it ceases to be science.

    “In order to tell the politicians and practitioners something about causes and best means, the economist needs the true theory or else he has not much more to offer than educated common sense or his personal opinion.” (Stigum, 1991, p. 30)

    Since the classicals economics has failed to develop the true theory. This means in concrete terms that the economic policy proposals of Walrasians, Keynesians, Marxians, and Austrians have no sound scientific foundation. This is (i) a violation of scientific standards and ethics, and (ii), explains why economic problems cannot, as a rule, be solved but only shifted.

    In sum: Zaman’s proposals remain in the sphere of political economics and amount to the replacement of agenda O by agenda H. My proposal is to leave the sphere of political economics altogether, to focus on theoretical economics, and to make economics a science.

    The proper task of economics is to develop the true theory. Whatever the political goals are, without the true theory economic policy is pointless, i.e. ineffective or even counter-productive. The separation of politics and economics implies that the overarching economic goals are determined in the political sphere according to agreed-upon rules. The economist qua economist is not legitimized to determine the overarching economic goals.

    There is neither a political nor a moral justification for an economist to give economic policy advice without sound scientific foundation. Economists owe society the true theory, not less, not more. As long as they do not have the true theory, the political sects of Walrasians, Keynesians, Marxians, Austrians, or Orthodoxy/Heterodoxy better shut up.

    At the moment, neither orthodox nor heterodox economists have a core of scientific knowledge they can rely upon. They are losely held together by political opinion. This is neither an acceptable nor a tenable situation.

    Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

    References
    McCauley, J. L. (2006). Response to “Worrying Trends in EconoPhysics”. EconoPhysics Forum, 0601001: 1–26. URL http://www.unifr.ch/econophysics/paper/show/id/doc_0601001.
    Mill, J. S. (2006). A System of Logic Ratiocinative and Inductive. Being a Connected
    View of the Principles of Evidence and the Methods of Scientific Investigation,
    volume 8 of Collected Works of John Stuart Mill. Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund.
    Nell, E. J. (1980). Growth, Profits, and Property, chapter Cracks in the Neoclassical Mirror: On the Break-Up of a Vision, pages 1–16. Cambridge, New York, NY,
    Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
    Stigum, B. P. (1991). Toward a Formal Science of Economics: The Axiomatic Method in Economics and Econometrics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    Whitaker, J. K. (1975). John Stuart Mill’s Methodology. Chicago Journals, 83(5)
    1033–1050. URL http://www.jstor.org/stable/1830085.

  4. January 26, 2016 at 4:17 am

    Okay, I think I understand. In a nutshell, heterodox economists want economics to be a social science, with emphasis on the science and act and react in the same manner as the other social sciences and social scientists (sociologists, political scientists, etc.). That is, write theory, create and test laws, and do empirical research. To generally find out how behavior is created and the rules that govern that creation. Social scientists are not moralists or philosophers, and should not act as such. Nor should they be ideologues, supporting certain ideological and political positions. Current economists do little, very often none of this.

    But all this goes contrary to two suggestions from Zaman I believe are appropriate – re-incorporate moral considerations and history into economics. Zaman also suggests economics needs to do much more that engage in ideological battles about free markets versus governments. Based on this it seems Zaman proposes economics (and perhaps the other social sciences as well) mix philosophy and humanities into its action plan and guiding principles. For example, historians search for the principles and reasons for actions within the actions and actors themselves. In other words, the actors create ways of life, the theories and justifications for those ways, and the explanations for all of this. Universal laws in the sense of thermodynamics or gravity fit physics well because these are what empirical investigations seem to reveal. Empirical investigations into ways of life of people and the objects around them reveal ideologies, the will to believe, and continual controversy about how and why society, economics, politics, etc. succeed and fail, or even exist at all. These are the “laws” of markets, democracy, legal arrangements, war, privilege, status, wealth, race, etc. The social sciences make an error in searching for unchanging rules or action, which they sum up in the word behavior. Behavior does not exist. Creativity, construction, controversy, change, and history exist. These are the essence of “human science.” Economics to be of any benefit should focus on these.

  5. January 26, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Great analysis. As I see it, that tentative starting point fixes perfectly with Bryan Arthur’s Complexity Economics School.
    http://www.santafe.edu/media/workingpapers/13-04-012.pdf

  6. January 27, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    “(i) The goal of political economics is to push an agenda, the goal of theoretical economics is to explain how the actual economy works. (ii) In political economics anything goes; in theoretical economics scientific standards are observed”. Says Egmont, revealing his political bent as Laisez-faire and his amoral scientific standards those of Humean atheism.

    IMHO, the goal of theoretical economics is to reveal what is possible, what detrimental, what advantageous and how to get there given the possibility that is what we’ve got. I totally agree with Blocke that the need for centralised control can be avoided, and with SLE on taking account of different types of behaviour; but surely morality is relevant to our being able to readily distinguish detrimental from advantageous behaviour?

    Bryan Arthur’s Complexity thesis has improved a lot since his focus on Increasing Returns by Positive Feedback in 1998, and is now on the verge of recognising what I’ve long been saying: that society and thus economies are all about communication and thus information science. Still no people, so only technology (not life) generates needs and purposes, but he ends:

    “In conclusion, Complexity Economics is neither an add-on to standard economics (see Fontana, 2010), nor does it consist of adding agent-based behavior to standard models. It is a different way of thinking about the economy. It sees the economy not as a system in equilibrium but as one in motion, perpetually “computing” itself — perpetually constructing itself anew. Where equilibrium economics emphasizes order, determinacy, deduction, and stasis, this new framework emphasizes contingency, indeterminacy, sense-making, and openness to change. There is another way to say this. Until now, economics has been a noun – based rather than verb-based science. It has pictured changes over time in the economy function as changes in levels of fixed noun-entities — employment, production, consumption, prices. Now it is shifting toward seeing these changes as a series of verb-
    actions — forecast, respond, innovate, replace — that cause further actions”.

    Ken might like to rethink the existence of the words “creativity, construction, controversy, change, and history” as indexing processes in human brains. Arthur has still not grasped that people’s brains form part of communication systems, and that completely random behaviour assumed in the physical theory of heat is reduced to a bit of noise in information science originating in radio wave and digital neural communication. However, using Tony Lawson’s method of contrasts, this paper could be one starting point for agreeing a core of heterodox economic theory based on information science rather than out-dated physics.

    • January 27, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      On Asad’s third proposition: “We must move beyond the ideological battles of free markets versus governments”, I missed out by simply agreeing with Blocke on constitutional and industrial democracy. We need democracy in local area communities too.

      In 1931 Pope Pius XI coined a useful word, ‘subsidiarity’, for the principle that Big Brother should not be doing what Little Brother is capable of doing for himself; which is not to say (what is happening now) that he shouldn’t help and advise help him: Unlimited Finance leaving Big Business leaving Big Government leaving Local Government leaving families to make shift as best they may. These battles are not merely idoelogical but real, and walking away from them or simply calling a plague on both big business and big government is not going to resolve anything.

      We need to refocus the arguments onto Fraudulent Finance empowering managerially and ecologically Insane Growth, and seek a heterodox consensus by comparing a range of possible alternatives such as Positive Money or growth-inhibiting Credit Card debt. This in terms of their efficiency, securing of incomes and facilitation of government decentralisation (e.g. into separately financed and locally managed Ministerial functions).

  7. January 27, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    So Dave Taylor1, May I rephrase your statement…. “We need to refocus the arguments onto Fraudulent Finance empowering managerially and ecologically Insane Growth, and seek a heterodox consensus by comparing a range of possible alternatives such as Positive Money or growth-inhibiting Credit Card debt. This in terms of their efficiency, securing of incomes and facilitation of government decentralisation (e.g. into separately financed and locally managed Ministerial functions).”….seek a heterodox consensus by comparing AMI, PMI, and SODDYISM to prove a theory THE K.I.S.SOLUTION TO DECREASE INEQUALITY GAPS, POVERTY, and NATIONAL DEBT.
    When a honest Central Bank administers its duty for the betterment of the community in a capitalistic economy, it will be the greatest system ever devised by mankind.
    IN EIGHT WORDS: A CAPITALISTIC ECONOMY WITH A HONEST CENTRAL BANK.
    Reverse: “… an economic recovery program that has privileged the recovery of financial markets and corporate profits has fueled the increase in wealth inequality, in the United States and across the world.”, reverse that program, make it fund “…a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,…”
    “Capitalism is the “best” system to date devised by mankind. As it is administrated, perhaps, is where the “flaw” is manifested. If capitalism used its Central Bank properly,that is for the betterment of the common good, with equality and justice for all, capitalism would be the best ways and means to help “form a more perfect union….”, (?)
    SOLUTION.
    “LEGISLATE FOR “We the People” WHAT WE HAD LEGISLATED THE CENTRAL BANK TO DO FOR THE Private For Profit Banks (PFPB) ! ISSUE OUR OWN MONEY AS LOANS AND CHARGE A TAX CALLED INTEREST ! ! ! ”
    Create an honest Central Bank…
    …the sole guarantor of the wealth of the sovereignty
    …having the sole right to issue borrowed wealth at zero interest
    …charging an interest (a tax) until the issuance is returned to its owners.
    …Thereby creating an income stream that shall fund-
    ““We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,…””

    Why are there no challenges?

    • January 27, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      Why are there no challenges? Well, the Positive Money school of monetary reform is moving very close to Soddyism, so what are you complaining about, Lucky? Did you listen to Steve Keen on the link I sent?

      Since Soddy and the General Strike of 1926, communications and computation advances have increased rapidity of monetary turnover and somewhat changed the ways one might achieve your social objectives, facilitating advances in environmental science that have brought the critical state of our ecology to the fore. But even Soddy doesn’t really address the fundamental failing of capitalism: of promoting pursuit of growth of individual wealth by monetary trade beyond not only need but the earth’s ability to regenerate what we use.

      That is why I personally am advocating a Credit Card economy in which debt is of negative value, so incurred only as needed within a generous limit, and repaid by earning one’s keep not necessarily as an employee but by looking after oneself and cooperating with others in doing what needs doing. One can look back even further than Soddy to Gesel, praised by Keynes for attempting something rather similar by the very different means of date-stamped money.

  8. January 28, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Would this be like Congress having a credit card for “we The People” to use to fund “…to form a more perfect union…?

    • January 29, 2016 at 10:38 am

      No, rather the other way round. It is for “we the people” to have credit cards so that Congress could see their job as really helping them “form a more perfect union” [rather than financially controlling the people despite not understanding money].

      In response to Jeff’s fundamental laws of economics below, I suggest he needs to think over Erich Fromm’s comment on the story of the worship of the Golden Calf [money]. “The first law of the Decalogue is the first law of logic: Thou shalt not confuse the image with the reality”.

  9. Jeff
    January 29, 2016 at 5:23 am

    Fundamental laws of economics:

    1) Total private purchases = total revenue from private sources. It is amazing how many field of dreams “If you build it they will come” theories you can immediately throw out with this rule.

    2) Demand = money supply of unsatiated + satiation requirements of any earning over the satiation cutoff. Let’s not have any more economics books making idiotic claims like “No-one knows why propensity to save increased in the US 1980s”.

    3) When profit motive aligns with the common good, free markets work well. When profit motives are counter to the public good, government action is required to either realign these motives or de-privatize these industries.

    4) Supply curves are usually “well behaved” and less supply is offered to the marketplace on price decreases. In a few cases, such as hyperinflation and the Great Depression, more supply is offered to the market in the case of decreased prices in order to meet a fixed system-wide need. These are the most dangerous times in economics.

    5) There is no a-priori equilibrium point. For example, local aggregate demand equilibrium points are determined more by wage history than by genetic makeup or any a priori population characteristics.

    Start with these assumptions and you fix most of the biggest problems with modern economics.

    • Paul Schächterle
      January 29, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Very interesting remarks, I agree partially.

      Most importantly you have to exclude the labour market from point 4), I am afraid.

  10. January 29, 2016 at 11:25 am

    How to restart economics
    Comment on Jeff on ‘Is there a core of heterodox economics that we can all believe in?’

    You conclude your post with “Start with these assumptions and you fix most of the biggest problems with modern economics.”

    This is the correct way to proceed: to first of all clearly speak out one’s core premises (= hypotheses = postulates = assumptions = principles = axioms). And at this very first step most economists fail already. Heterodoxy is a case in point as the title of this thread testifies. At the moment, there is no common core of heterodox economics.

    Your approach is in full agreement with the first principle of science: “When the premises are certain, true, and primary, and the conclusion formally follows from them, this is demonstration, and produces scientific knowledge of a thing.” (Aristotle)

    However, while your approach is correct in general it is not correct in detail. Roughly speaking, it is not elementary enough. More specifically, premise #1 is provably false.

    This is the correct core of premises:
    (0) The objectively given and most elementary configuration of the (world-) economy consists of the household and the business sector which in turn consists initially of one giant fully integrated firm.
    (i) Yw=WL wage income Yw is equal to wage rate W times working hours. L,
    (ii) O=RL output O is equal to productivity R times working hours L,
    (iii) C=PX consumption expenditure C is equal to price P times quantity bought/sold X.

    These premises are certain, true, and primary, and therefore satisfy all methodological requirements. The set of premises is minimalistic, that is, it cannot be reduced further, only expanded. The set contains no nonentities like maximization or equilibrium and no normative assertions. For the graphical representation see here

    At any given level of employment L, the wage income Yw that is generated in the consolidated business sector follows by multiplication with the wage rate W. On the real side, output O follows by multiplication with the productivity R. Finally, the price P follows as the dependent variable under the conditions of budget balancing, i.e. C=Yw and market clearing, i.e. X=O. Note that the ray in the southeastern quadrant is NOT a linear production function; the ray tracks ANY underlying production function. Note also that the wage rate W is an AVERAGE if the individual wage rates are different among the employees, which is normally the case.

    Under the conditions of market clearing and budget balancing in each period the price is given by P=W/R (1), i.e. the market clearing price is always equal to unit wage costs. This is the most elementary form of the Law of Supply and Demand.

    If the wage rate W is lowered, the market clearing price P falls. If the number of working hours L is increased the price remains constant, provided productivity R does not change. If productivity decreases the price P rises. If productivity increases the price falls. In any case, labor gets the whole product, the real wage W/P is invariably equal to the productivity R according to (1), and profit for the business sector as a whole is zero. All changes in the system are reflected by the market clearing price.

    This has been the first step. With the second step the conditions of market clearing and budget balancing have to be lifted. This produces the phenomena of inventory changes (O-X>0 or 0 or 0 or <0).

    To take the economic system as a whole as analytical starting point is the correct way. To start with assumptions about individual behavior is methodologically incorrect. This blunder is the defining characteristic of microeconomics. It is just the other way round: given the minimalist core propositions (0) to (iii) one has to proceed top-down by successive differentiation until one arrives at the individual agent.

    Conclusions for Heterodoxy: (1) Throw out the neoclassical set of premises [“most of what I and many others do is sorta-kinda neoclassical because it takes the maximization-and-equilibrium world as a starting point” (Krugman)] (2) Take the premises (0) to (iii) as common core of economic analysis. (3) Differentiate the common core, that is, increase complexity successively, and derive all observable economic phenomena and relationships consistently from the common core. (4) Take the first opportunity to test one of the derived complex relationships. (5) If the relationship is corroborated continue with differentiation and solve concrete economic problems, otherwise look for a new set of foundational premises.

    The acceptance of the premises (0) to (iii) depends alone on the outcome of empirical tests and not at all on whether one likes them or not, and certainly not on any political prejudice. There is no need at all to believe in anything. Heterodoxy defines itself by superior knowledge and not by belief or political opinion.

    Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

  11. February 1, 2016 at 8:28 am

    To be a science, a field of study has to be able to make valid predictions. Clearly in aggregate at least, Economics has failed in that and is therefore not a science. The question is, can it be made into one? If not, it is no better than an art, and not particularly useful one either since it does not stand alone, subject to critical review, but instead influences the outcomes of entire societies and the world economy.
    There may be some small glimmer of hope, however.
    There are, for example, some economists who predicted the crash, and not in a stopped clock sort of way, but with empirical testable data and theory. Georgist economists like Mason Gaffney, expanding on the work of Homer Hoyt in the 1930s, is one such example, using the Land Cycle, with 30 or so clearly delineated steps from peak to trough to identify the 2008 crash ahead of time and testable steps leading up to it.
    There are others. And it ought to be possible, in a scientifically rigorous way, to disaggregate other irrelevant factors from the true causes, or at least to identify cycle constants if we use a long enough repeating set of cycles.
    If not, then what are we doing here?

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