Rafe’s Roundup 10 Dec

Don Arthur’s Missing Links.

The PNC “12 Days” Christmas Price Index now 27 years old. French hens up 230%, calling birds steady, gold rings up 30%. Liked the presentation better before, this one is dumbed down.

Antony de Jasay on Macro, Micro  and Fantasy economics.  His point is that learning Keynesian macro is worse than learning no economics at all.

Sex education these days begins at 8 and economics is taught as early as 15. These may be necessary, or necessary evils, but seem premature all the same. Economic education much before economic experience may well act as the little knowledge that is worse than none. It is this public that is a sucker for the fantasy economics peddled in profusion today that borrows the language of economics but has no roots in either micro or macro logic.

Bruce Caldwell on teaching the history of economics. Hat tip to Coordination Problem.

Phil Mirowski has written about the physics envy of the economics profession in the 19th century, and I think a continuation of that took place in the 20th century. The perception was that the way to be truly scientific was to know the latest modeling and econometric techniques, pick a field, and then apply them. That vision of science has much less of a role for history. I think the move to that vision is obvious, and it’s one I personally think is wrong and that we’re trying to reverse.

A big  tick for New Zealand.

David McKenzie explains why he thinks facilitating international migration should be at the top of everyone’s list of effective development interventions. Compared to microfinance, conditional cash transfer programs and cash grants to microentrepreneurs, a seasonal migration program in New Zealand produced WAY larger gains in annual income for program beneficiaries.

And how that approach could help Haiti.

Science, research and technology links.  Economics links.

Ronald Coase and friend on how china became a capitalist state (and is getting rich).

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6 Responses to Rafe’s Roundup 10 Dec

  1. Pingback: Club Troppo » Missing Link Friday – 10 December 2010

  2. daddy dave

    Lots of interesting stuff there Rafe.
    The best way to help Haiti – an aid-dependent basket case – is to let Haitians migrate to the US? Well, it’s probably more effective than any aid program, but that article stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest.

  3. C.L.

    Economic education much before economic experience may well act as the little knowledge that is worse than none.

    Interesting theory. But many kids are working at that age, to some limited extent, so I’d say 15 is a pretty good time to start. Having said that, much more emphasis in economics education needs to be placed on the demonstrable superiority of private enterprise and private problem-solving – that is, in both money-making and life-enhancing endeavours (inlcuding for the less well-off). That’s because in my experience, younger people are naively open to statism not simply because they’re not yet mortgagees and taxpayers but because they’re inherently inclined to associate social/cultural progress with programmes making a big Rooseveltian splash, sold with an ‘all of us’ feel-goodery. Young people love the vibe of a mob – whether it’s Woodstock or the thrill (extensively recorded in 1914) of a declaration of war. Teach them that private enterprise, private free associations and private charities achieve better results. Warn them that avoiding the personal responsibility of ‘making the world a better place’ by outsourcing the job to the state is an uncool cop-out.

    The perception was that the way to be truly scientific was to know the latest modeling and econometric techniques, pick a field, and then apply them. That vision of science has much less of a role for history. I think the move to that vision is obvious, and it’s one I personally think is wrong and that we’re trying to reverse.

    I’m not sure what the argument is here. History is vectoring to a more scientific modus operandi? Really? I thought it was vectoring towards the kingdom of fluffy historiographical bunnies and hazy rainbows of self affirmation – complete with a pot ‘o gold marked ‘My truth’ (not the truth – that be bad). Maybe Caldwell is conflating the economics to be taught from the discipline of history itself. The German historians – notably von Ranke, of course – did see themselves as applying a certain kind of scientistic rigor to their research. I’m not sure if this can ever be scientific, properly so-called, but it would certainly be an antidote to the kind of subjectivist nonsense of which Manning Clark was guilty and which Blainey and Windschuttle have manfully attempted to dethrone; which subjectivist nonsense (contra Conrad on the other thread) has real, practical ramifications, not excluding the Constitutional in the Australian context. The Australian economics profession certainly needs to muscle up for a history battle. They were pulverised by the voodoo stimulus charlatans, who successfuly sold all sorts of Rudd-style nonsense about the Great Depression, Keynes and ‘neo-liberalism.’

  4. FDB

    Sex education these days begins at 8 and economics is taught as early as 15. These may be necessary, or necessary evils, but seem premature all the same.

    Yeah!

    Because economics is like totally in its own league!

    Let’s go on teaching chemistry, physics, mathematics, literature, sociology, psychology, philosophy, law and such pap from the age of ten, but let’s leave economics until they’re adults.

    Oh, my aching sides.

  5. C.L.

    Meant: Maybe Caldwell is conflating the economics to be taught WITH the discipline of history itself.

  6. Peter Patton

    I’m gonna repost what I said precisely on this topic a few days ago. My attitude will no doubt be challenged as my start my Economics PhD nest year, including tutoring babies.

    like most here I find the whole GFC thing kinda rooly, rooly fascinating. But my cognitive structures reflexively tap into my historian’s training, not my – admittedly only one year of grad coursework – economics training. In fact, I can’t see much relevance of economics to it at all.

    The great huge ginormous mistake that Economics lecturers make is that they think and teach like a perverse kinda of existentialist, where Economics precedes markets. And as I have been banging away, da market IS da SOCIAL. Trying to impress upon undergrads economic principles, without first grounding them is very real life situations, has really fucked western Economics discourse.

    Because of the relative strict internal rigor that curves, functions, and high school maths that Economics employs alone among the Social Sciences, kids with 2nd year Micro and macro under their belts are still patronizingly lecturing the entire bar on Friday nights in CBD’s across the world.

    I have a lot of friends with US MBAs – Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Stanford, you name it – and I’ve seen the work they do. In the compulsory curriculum, the level of “Economics” they are taught is straight Intermediate – 2nd year undergrad – no calculus. The one exception here is MIT. But because of their natural wit, IQ, and charisma, you hear them braying this 2nd year shit for the rest of their lives.

    Oh, the biochemistry and Sociology grads I went through undergrad with, who think they have found the holy grail. The – now McKinsey moonie – Sociologist, two weeks out of Northwestern said, “Jesus, if those dudes crack the prisoner’s dilemma, I’ll be shorting them quick smart”. I replied, “ah, did it ever occur to you said dudes running that Fortune 500 company , might have thought they’d already jailed you so need to play with you?

    I reckon all undergrad Eco lecturers should pick a random time in history – very recent or ancient – and teach it like a pebble thrown on a lake. Let’s face it, economic principles are fricking everywhere! For example, in the very first lecture of Micro 101, ask the class:

    Why in over 1,000 years did the Romans not raise their average standard of living one iota?

    AND/OR

    How did Australia get to be the richest nation on earth by 1880, when the Aborigines never advanced beyond digging sticks in 40,000 years?

    In no way was I suggesting my aim in teaching that Econ I class “the answer” to the Roman and Australian colonial questions, bit merely to get them asking and thinking about every single type of activity and transaction which could have occurred in those times/societies, and how ubiquitous economic insights were.

    And then spend the rest of the semester drawing out the Eco textbook from there.

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