from Peter Radford
Right at the end of his book called “Memoirs from Beyond the Tomb” Chateaubriand gives us a remarkable insight into our current troubles. I wonder whether we will solve them or whether we will simply write an addendum to his book.
He asks, for instance:
“Is it possible for a political system to subsist, in which some individuals have so many millions a year while other individuals are dying of hunger, when religion is no longer there with its other-worldly hopes to explain the sacrifice?”
A little later, with respect to the spread of education downward in society, he goes on :
“The excessive disproportion of conditions and fortunes was endurable as long as it remained concealed; but as soon as this disproportion was generally perceived, the old order received its death-blow. Recompose the aristocratic fictions if you can; try to convince the poor man, once he has learnt to read and ceased to believe, once he has become as well informed as yourself, try to convince him that he must submit to every sort of privation, while his neighbor possesses a thousand times what he needs: as a last resource you will have to kill him.”
Chateaubriand, as we know, lived through a great transition in society. Read more…
“The rich… divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal proportions among all its inhabitants and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society, and afford means to the multiplication of the species.” Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part IV Chapter 1
“For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” Mark, King James Bible, 1611, 4:25
Adam Smith’s optimism and its vulgar neoliberal reincarnation, the ‘trickle down effect’, are thankfully on the back foot these days, steadily losing ground to a more ‘biblical’ narrative (see Mark 4:25 above). The Crash of 2008, the bailouts that followed, and the ‘secular stagnation’ which is keeping the wage share at historic lows (at a time of conspicuous QE-fuelled, bubble-led, asset-price inflation), have put paid to the touching belief that the ‘invisible hand’, left to its own devices, distributes the fruits of human endeavour more evenly across humanity.
from Lars Syll
Eighty years ago Keynes could congratulate Great Britain on finally having got rid of the biggest ”barbarous relic” of his time – the gold standard. He lamented that
advocates of the ancient standard do not observe how remote it now is from the spirit and the requirement of the age … [T]he long age of Commodity Money has at last passed away before the age of Representative Money. Gold has ceased to be a coin, a hoard, a tangible claim to wealth … It has become a much more abstract thing – just a standard of value; and it only keeps this nominal status by being handed round from time to time in quite small quantities amongst a group of Central Banks.
Ending the use of fiat money guaranteed by promises for currencies once more backed by gold is not the way out of the present economic crisis. Far from being the sole prophylactic against the alleged problems of fiat money, as the “gold bugs” maintain, a return to gold would only make things far worse. So yours truly – just as Keynes did – most certainly reject any proposals for restoring the gold standard. Read more…
Papers submitted to the journal Economic Thought that meet minimum standards of professional quality are posted on the journal’s Discussion Forum in order to solicit comments and discussions. The Forum’s home page says:
You are invited to comment on these papers.
Comments can range from short remarks to full reviews. We encourage you to be frank, but polite. As a rule, commentators should give their name. If they fear hurting their relationship with authors, they can use an alias, which has to be clearly recognizable as such. Editors will vet comments before publication to make sure appropriate and comprehensible language is used and that they are substantive comments relating to the content of the paper at hand. Standards of fairness will be particularly high if an alias is used.
Preciously there was a navigation problem (now corrected) from the WEA homepage that may have prevented you from taking part. Below is a linked list of some papers recently posted for open review that you might wish to consider. Read more…
from David Ruccio
Uncertainty is all the rage right now, with a wide variety of economists and central bankers “discovering” its disturbing effects in the midst of the current crises of capitalism.
But I’ll bet it’s just a passing fad. As soon as things return to normal, uncertainty will be put back on the shelf and, once again, be tamed and domesticated.
As I’ve shown many times over the last few years, the failure of mainstream economics has prompted a rediscovery of uncertainty—not unlike during the First Great Depression when Keynes argued that investors were subject to fundamental uncertainty (as against probabilistic risk) and therefore guided not by rational calculation but by “animal spirits.”* Read more…
Yesterday the first issue of Economic Thought was published by the World Economics Association. Already within 24 hours the journal’s number of downloads, over 3,000, was beyond the dreams of many academic journal editors. From the contents page below you may download the whole issue, individual papers and also abstracts.
Volume 1, Number 1 (2012)
Table of Contents
|Editorial Introduction to the First Issue of Economic Thought||Download PDF|
|Mathematical Modelling and Ideology in the Economics Academy: competing explanations of the failings of the modern discipline?||Download PDF|
|Economics and Research Assessment Systems||Download PDF|
|Richard Cantillon’s Early Monetary Views?||Download PDF|
|Richard van den Berg|
|Different Approaches to the Financial Crisis||Download PDF|
|Sheila C Dow|
|On the Limits of Rational Choice Theory||Download PDF|
|Geoffrey M. Hodgson|
|An Evolutionary Efficiency Alternative to the Notion of Pareto Efficiency||Download PDF|
|Irene van Staveren|