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The triumph of the death of methodology and the history of economic thought

December 31, 2011 18 comments

from David Ruccio

Just this past semester, students in one of my classes wanted to know why they hadn’t been taught anything about economic methodology or the history of economic thought in any of the other courses they’d taken in economics.

The explanation I gave them was similar to what my colleague Philip Mirowski has recently written:  Read more…

Student loans: the new bubble? (chart)

December 18, 2011 5 comments

from Merijn Knibbe

At this moment I’m using the work of Reinhart and Rogoff, “This time is different. Eight centuries of financial folly”.

1. To avoid a common misunderstanding: this book is not just about government debt – it is about how all kinds of debt again and again destabilized entire countries. And about the endemic vulnerability of monetary, debt based economies (no single emerging economy ever escaped a phase of default. Not one.). To quote Reinhart:  Read more…

Occupy market failure

December 7, 2011 11 comments

from David Ruccio

With all due respect to Mark Thoma, the introduction of market failures does not mean the teaching of principles of economics is not a problem.* It’s the least mainstream economists can due. But it’s not enough.

The way principles of economics gets taught, at Harvard Read more…

Occupy Harvard and beyond

December 6, 2011 6 comments

from David Ruccio

Issue #2 of The Occupy Harvard Crimson is now out.

The issue includes a variety of short essays about the occupation, including a piece by Wayne M. Langley, of SEIU Local 615, on higher education and another by Richard Wolff, a Harvard alumnus, based on the talk he gave at the occupation on 18 November.

This is from Langley: Read more…

Why Frank Smets, chief economist of the ECB, thinks the ECB economic model is wrong

November 15, 2011 4 comments

from Merijn Knibbe

Have you ever wondered why an U-3 unemployment rate of 23% in Spain (and rising) and 18% in Greece (and rising) doesn’t seem to bother the European Central Bank (ECB)? I have. And it might have something to do with the kind of models the European Central Bank uses, like the ECB ‘New Area Wide Model” (NAWM), which does not include unemployment as a variable. It literally defines unemployment away. People using this model don’t see what happens to unemployment – and at the ECB they do use this model… And yes, these are the kind of models which people like Greg Mankiw sell to their students. Let’s take a look at this: Read more…

“This is why we are Anti-Mankiw”

November 14, 2011 21 comments

The following is from Harvard students’ http://anti-mankiw.blogspot.com

Students at Harvard University on Tuesday, November 1st walked out of Professor N. Gregory Mankiw’s Ec 10, “Principles of Economics” course, for two main reasons.

First, to declare their solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and indeed, occupy movements currently happening all across the world. Read more…

Part IV: Eleven ways to think like a post-crash economist

November 10, 2011 7 comments

from Edward Fullbrook

Part I – Mankiw’s Neo-Platonism is anti-science
Part II – Mankiw’s use of emotionality and bullying
Part III –  Newton, Mankiw and Einstein

Eleven ways to think like a post-crash economist

For the last fifty years economics as a profession has shown exceptional talent for self-promotion.  Spurred on by self-delusion, it has persuaded the media to call its Bank of Sweden Prize a “Nobel Prize” and in the main has escaped ridicule even when, like Samuelson and Mankiw, it has represented its pursuits and achievements as resembling those of Newton and Einstein.  This self-exaltation has in the main enabled its anti-scientific methodology to escape outside notice, with the result that the broader intellectual community has accepted economics’ self-assessment.  But this was not always the case. Read more…

Toxic Textbooks: Part III – Newton, Mankiw and Einstein

November 9, 2011 10 comments

from Edward Fullbrook

 Part I – Mankiw’s Neo-Platonism is anti-science 
 Part II – Mankiw’s use of emotionality and bullying

Part III – Newton, Mankiw and Einstein

If economics textbook authors placed education ahead of indoctrination, the epistemological role of their theory ahead of its ideological one, how might they proceed?  Hugh Stretton’s Economics: A New Introduction [1999] shows how it can be done.  For example, look at how he introduces “efficiency”.  Read more…

Toxic Textbooks: Part II – Mankiw’s use of emotionality and bullying

November 8, 2011 6 comments

from Edward Fullbrook

Yesterday I posted Part I – Mankiw’s Neo-Platonism is anti-science

Part II – Mankiw’s use of emotionality and bullying

A major device which Mankiw and other textbook writers use in persuading the student to accept on faith their principles is to subtly yet forcibly bring emotionality into their presentation.  Mainstream or neoclassical economics, especially in the last fifty years, has made a point of raising its flag over snow-white abstract nouns such as “rationality”, “choice”, “freedom”, “equity” and “efficiency”, whose meanings change with the wind and are bottom-heavy with emotion and so float like icebergs through public discussion.  Read more…

Toxic Textbooks: Part I – Mankiw’s Neo-Platonism is anti-science

November 7, 2011 14 comments

from Edward Fullbrook

Thanks to Harvard students, Greg Mankiw’s approach to teaching economics was international news last week and continues to be so today.   A couple of years ago I contributed a short essay, “Toxic Textbooks” to Jack Reardon’s The Handbook of Pluralist Economics Education.  My essay’s paradigm of a toxic textbook is Mankiw’s Principles of Economics.  Someone has suggested that I make the essay available online in the current flow of news on this overdue public controversy.  So I am splitting the essay into four parts which will appear here this week on consecutive days beginning with this post.

Part I – Mankiw’s Neo-Platonism is anti-science

No discipline has ever experienced systemic failure on the scale that economics has today.  Its fall from grace has been two-dimensional.  Read more…

Back to school in the USA: 4 charts

August 15, 2011 5 comments

from David Ruccio

Now and in the coming weeks, many U.S. college students will be preparing for the resumption of classes. Some of them will be worrying about the escalating tuition and fees and wondering if they’ll be able to pay them. Many others, for whom college might have been considered as a possibility, will be locked out by rising college costs or will have to consider going deeper into debt.

That’s because, as Allison Linn [ht: ja] explains,

the cost of tuition and fees has more than doubled since 2000. That’s a bigger percentage increase than, well, pretty much anything else. Read more…

Is college still worth it?

August 13, 2011 5 comments

from John Schmitt

Catherine Rampell had a post last week declaring that “College is (Still) Worth It“. The piece is the latest in a series that she and her Economix blog colleague, David Leonhardt, have written on the financial benefits of college.

I agree with Rampell and Leonhardt that college is, on average, a good investment for the people who make it. But, Rampell and Leonhardt’s posts completely sidestep the key issue: why is it that when confronted with compelling evidence that college pays a big financial dividend, so many young people still don’t get a college degree? Read more…

Is a US college degree worth it?

August 13, 2011 3 comments

from David Ruccio

As the costs of a college education soar, and college graduates face more insecure job prospects, the debate about the value of a college education is heating up. An increasing number of critics argue that paying for college is simply not worth it.

That’s why there are so many studies attempting to prove the opposite: that an earnings premium on a college education exists and may be growing.  Read more…

What’s the value of a college education?

from David Ruccio

What’s the value of a college education?

That’s the question on a lot of people’s minds, as one group graduates from colleges and universities, and another group chooses what colleges and universities (if any) they will attend. The first group is saddled with debt and faces dismal job prospects, while the second group tries to secure the necessary finances and begins to think about what they might major in to enter the “real world” in four year’s time.  Read more…

Banking on student debt

from David Ruccio

Colleges and universities are certainly banking on student debt—four-year schools so that they can raise tuition, for-profit schools so that they can engage in deceptive practices and outright fraud.

Wall Street is also banking on student debt—by first lending to students (with government guarantees) and then slicing and dicing the loans into Student Loan Asset-Backed Securities.

The only ones losing out are students—who in 2009 graduated with $24,000 in outstanding loans, and now face almost twice the rate of unemployment they did in 2007.  Read more…

Fight-back: Video

December 4, 2010 5 comments

from Edward Fullbrook

A major economic policy of the United Kingdom’s new (spring 2010) coalition government is to drastically reduce government investment in higher education. As economists we sometimes forget that economic policies ultimately require political feasibility.  An obvious consideration behind the UK government’s decision to target young people wanting higher education is the reputation of today’s youth – and this generally holds true worldwide – of being catatonically apathetic about social ethics and political issues. Read more…

The Department of Economics and Policy Studies at the University of Notre Dame has been officially dissolved.

from David Ruccio

It’s done! The Department of Economics and Policy Studies at the University of Notre Dame has been officially dissolved.

On 25 February, the Academic Council approved the dean’s proposal to eliminate ECOP and to rename the remaining department the Department of Economics. Now, the members of ECOP need to find positions for themselves elsewhere in the university—or to leave the university entirely. There will be no place for them in the other department.  Read more…

Oz and Paul

December 15, 2009 3 comments

Dear Prof. Davidson,

My name is Oz Gore and I’m a first-year economics graduate student living in Israel. My B.A was in PPE (Politics, Philosophy, Economics), an interdisciplinary program at Hebrew U.

As part of the program we were required to write a personal paper on a topic of our choosing and I chose Keynes. Working on my paper I came across your work and was greatly inspired. Feeling that mainstream economics is extremely narrow, I was contemplating a lot on what kind of graduate studies to pursue. Reading your work made me realize that economics can (and should) be a subject of deep philosophical discussion and that some schools of thought treat it hands-on as oppose to the way I was taught (which is to wear mathematical gloves each time I want to study the world).

So, I began my graduate studies at the Hebrew U hoping that I would acquire tools that will help me understand the world better, and hopefully enable me to say something positive about it. However, Read more…

Student protests against the effects of the economic collapse are spreading

November 25, 2009 3 comments

A wave of student protests, reminiscent of the 1960s, has swept across California’s university system.  Students have wagged, teach-ins, class walkouts, rallies, demonstrations and sit-ins after the state government announced Read more…