William K. Black
February 29, 2016 Brooklyn, N.Y.
A blogger has trolled all heterodox economists as believers in the “occult.” More precisely, he is upset about “econ people” (who are likely not economists) and who tweet him or post comments on his blog site. The blogger further complains that these commenters say that they believe in heterodox economics and “new methodologies [that] are poised to topple mainstream economics.” He then goes on to say: “My typical response is to ask what these new methodologies are. But incredibly, I can almost never get an answer.”
The UMKC economics department is chock full of heterodox economists who share the blogger’s experience. We too get weird blogs and tweets that are long on revolutionary conclusions and short on specifics. Some of these messages come from folks who say they are heterodox and some from those that write to denounce heterodox economics. We also get an endless stream of policy nostrums from orthodox economists that promise to transform America (in good ways). They have, collectively, transformed America in terrible ways.
By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN: January 13, 2015
One of the many quips ascribed to Winston Churchill is that it was well that Clement Atlee were modest for he had much to be modest about. This article comments on a remarkable article dated September 19, 2009 by the French economist Gilles Saint-Paul that embodies why economics is the only field that purports to be a science that has gotten worse for decades, which actively makes the world worse in its supposed area of expertise, and that is proud of it. I learned of the article through the worthy blog site Unlearning Economics. That site has a special category for theoclasscial sermons, including Saint-Paul’s, that exemplify our family rule that it is impossible to compete with unintentional self-parody.
Saint-Paul’s title is “A ‘modest’ intellectual discipline.” Saint-Paul is one of the economists who was an architect of the ongoing disaster, so one could hope that writing in 2009 would have led him to conduct a thorough re-examination of his field’s catastrophic failures. He should have begun with a personal and professional mea culpa and a series of frank admissions as to what caused him and his discipline to fail yet again and cause such great harm to the world. That’s what a representative of a “modest” field that has so very much to be modest about would do.
Video of public debate on the role of Government in the economy presented at the Kansas City Public Library, Plaza Branch on September 16, 2014. This excerpt only contains Dr. Stephanie Kelton’s presentation. Her slides are available below the video. The full version of the debate including the Q&A session at the end is available on our YouTube channel.
By Tadit Anderson
There is an interesting provenance between the defaming of the democracy of Pericles’s Athens as dysfunctional and the use of this fiction to support an “aristocratic” form of governance in opposition to democracy, even two thousand years later. The life of this misrepresentation was then extended in fabrication of creation myths about the peculiar nature of allegedly modern “democracy.” By the end of the 19th century a more reliable analysis of the Golden age of Athenian democracy was available. This new narrative should have replaced the misrepresentation by Plato and his lineage, but propaganda, if repeated often enough will begin to seem true. Making a distinction between a form of oligarchy and a functional democracy seems to be difficult when gaining unearned wealth is such a disincentive.
By William K. Black
In a PR effort that aptly illustrates his approach to governance, President Obama has revealed that he is meeting with a “wide variety of economists” to try to figure out what economic policies he should follow. “Obama Seeks Advice From Wide Variety of Economists.”
Obama is already well into the lame duck phase of his presidency, so this is simply a PR exercise. The message Obama wants to send is the same one he has sounded throughout his presidency. He is open to economic views from the parts of the political spectrum that range from the hard right to the mild left.
Bill Black appeared on the June 11, 2013 pledge drive edition of Tell Somebody. The topics of discussion were economics and regulation. You can listen here.
By Payam Sharifi
The subject and discussion of Ethics for economists is a recent but welcome phenomenon. The creation of the documentary “Inside Job” highlighted the ethical issues facing economists. Various outlets, consisting of many from outside the economics profession as well as some inside, have been demanding that economists and economics itself adopt a code of ethics. Many articles, blogs, and academic papers since that time have been beating the drum for a code to be adopted, as a simple Google search will show. The recent Reinhart and Rogoff flub has also reinvigorated this debate. The objective of this exposition is to show why economics (as it exists currently) cannot, and will not, ever be able to adopt that code of ethics. Well, why not…as I’m sure some of you are asking. Many other professions have a code of ethics that they adhere to…why is it that economics cannot do the same? There are in fact many reasons why this is so. I also advance another approach to economics that has existed for decades, if not longer, in the search to answer the question that forms this essay. Another, but seemingly unrelated topic that is sometimes debated among mainstream economists is the need for economic theory itself to change. As we seek to answer the question of whether Modern economics can be an Ethical science, we will find that the question of economic theory is in fact related. Continue reading