If you’re in Melbourne on Friday and free for lunch

There is a seminar within the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing on Friday at 12:30 for 1:00 o’clock with the speaker James Forder who has been a senior teaching member of Oxford University since 1993. He is now Andrew Graham Fellow and Tutor in Political Economy, and Vice Master (Executive) of Balliol College. He has also taught in Japan, France, and Thailand. He was previously an Associate of Oliver, Wyman & Co, strategic consultants to the financial services industry, New York, is a member of the Bar of England and Wales, and Managing Editor of Oxford Economic Papers. He has also been tutor and Senior Tutor of the Oxford University Business Economics Programme (a summer school programme for senior business executives), Senior Proctor of Oxford University for the year 2007-08 and subsequently was an elected member of the Council (governing body) of the University of Oxford.

He has written numerous academic papers on central bank independence, monetary policy, European integration, and the history of economic theory since 1945. His book on the last of those topics, Macroeconomics and the Phillips Curve Myth, Oxford: OUP, is due out in October. His previous books concerned public advocacy of the retention of the pound as an independent currency (Both sides of the coin, London: Profile Books, 1999 and 2nd edition, 2001, jointly with Christopher Huhne, who wrote the case for Britain joining the euro), and a defence of the ‘first past the electoral system (The Case Against Voting Reform, Oxford: One World, 2011).

This is what James will be speaking on:

There is a widely believed but entirely mythical story to the effect that the discovery of ‘the Phillips curve’ was, in the 1960s and perhaps later, an inspiration to inflationist policy. The point that this is a myth is argued in Forder, Macroeconomics and the Phillips curve myth, OUP 2014. One aspect of the explanation of how that myth came to be widely believed is considered in this paper. It is noted that the expression ‘Phillips curve’ was applied in a number of quite distinct and inconsistent ways, and as a result there was, by about 1980, an enormous confusion as to what that label meant. This confusion, as well as the multiplicity of possible meanings, it is suggested, made the acceptance of the myth much easier, and is therefore part, although only part, of the story of its acceptance.

I have heard him speak twice before and he makes anything interesting, never mind a subject that for an economist is as interesting as this one is.

The venue:

Swanston Academic Building
Level 11
445 Swanston Street.

12:30 for 1:00 pm

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12 Responses to If you’re in Melbourne on Friday and free for lunch

  1. Rob MW says:

    Steve if you want a full room it should be put in CentreLink terms – “If you’re in Melbourne on Friday and free for lunch lunch for free”

  2. stackja says:

    ….an enormous confusion as to what that label meant. This confusion, as well as the multiplicity of possible meanings…

    explains MSM economics.

  3. . says:

    Can’t make it.

    Just what the hell is the Philips curve then? I presume what I’ve known it to be isn’t what it “really” is.

    However – it means a relationship between output and prices. As it has been described as such for many years, however wrongly.

  4. Pyrmonter says:

    ^ Dot

    In its original formulation, a relationship between wage rates and unemployment. Different.


    As its author concluded:

    There is need for much more detailed research into the relations between unemployment, wage
    rates, prices and productivity.

  5. David says:

    There is need for much more detailed research into

    A part sentence found at or near the end of any consultant’s report into anything. Have seen lots of them over the years on engineering reports. Can’t speak for economics papers as I am not by any stretch of the imagination an economist or pretend to understand a lot of econospeak.

  6. . says:

    It’s funny you say that. When you see the original, it seems so familiar.

    My tip: Keynesians substitute unemployment for output when convenient, but think it is deplorable when others do the same.

  7. James Hargrave says:

    Vice Master (Executive)!

    An odd title, but it is an odd institution.

  8. Craig Mc says:

    Free lunch?!?!?

  9. Pyrmonter says:

    @ David and Dot

    There is a paper – I can’t find it, but one of Jim Rose, Leigh Lowe or Sinclair D may know it – that suggests the Phillips Curve paper was published as a relatively crude means to justify Phillips getting a chair at the LSE – the story being the Phillips didn’t have a higher degree and needed something in a first rank journal, as Economica then was, to justify the promotion, which was being pushed by others. He was, I faintly recall, an early “modeler” of the (literally) hydraulic Keynesian kind – literally plumbed together models relying on hydraulics in pre-computing days. Rather like the “Beveridge Curve” or, for that matter, “Keynesian” economics, it probably isn’t right though to relate the general idea – that there is some stable or controlable trade-off between inflation and output – with the man’s own efforts.

    As an aside: I assume the presenter will be critical of Phillips (most serious people being honest would be now) – if so, do not many of their criticisms of a supposedly empirically based “discovery” not also relate to the so-called “Taylor Rule”? John Taylor (links to the right) seems eminently sensible in most of what he says, yet I can’t see why his “Rule” should be any more stable or useful than Phillips’ curve was.

  10. David says:

    Thanks Pyrmonter. I have accessed a few papers in the Economics for Dummies category and I still have trouble with the concepts but I keep trying. If only they were as simple as Newtonian Physics or Quantum Mechanics all would be well. 🙂

  11. Pyrmonter says:

    David, in Pyrmonter’s distant youth, a variation on this quote used to find its way into most first year eco texts:

    Professor [Max] Planck, of Berlin, the famous originator of the Quantum Theory, once remarked to me that in early life he had thought of studying economics, but had found it too difficult! Professor Planck could easily master the whole corpus of mathematical economics in a few days. He did not mean that! But the amalgam of logic and intuition and the wide knowledge of facts, most of which are not precise, which is required for economic interpretation in its highest form is, quite truly, overwhelmingly difficult for those whose gift mainly consists in the power to imagine and pursue to their furthest points the implications and prior conditions of comparatively simple facts which are known with a high degree of precision.
    — John Maynard Keynes
    ‘Alfred Marshall: 1842-1924’ (1924). In Geoffrey Keynes (ed.), Essays in Biography (1933), 191-2

  12. 2dogs says:

    The Phillip’s curve related unemployment to wage inflation only.

    The subsequent applications beyond a single sector of the labour market were unfounded.

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