Saturday 13 August 2016

As Seen on the Internetz (ii)

Unbeknownst to me, the wise and good were already discussing subjects related to my last post: maths in economics.

Noah Smith began with his provocatively titled "Economics Without Math is Trendy, But it Doesn't Add Up" (Bloomberg View, Aug. 8). Whether you agree with Smith or not, you get the gist of his comment from the title (rather ingenious, you'll have to give him that). But, is it fair? Go there, read it, and make your own mind up.

From there, the discussion escalated: the article generated the all-too predictable kerfuffle among Smith's online intelligentsia peers, facing him from the post Keynesian side of the road.

Steve Keen replies at length in "The Need for Pluralism in Economics" (Debtwatch, Aug. 13). Here's a screen capture from Prof. Keen's post:

Right-click for a larger image in a separate tab.

And here's from Lars P. Syll's rather strongly worded reply ("Noah Smith — Confusing Mathematical Masturbation With Intercourse Between Research and Reality", his own blog, Aug. 13):

Right-click for a larger image in a separate tab.

One side has to be right, and it's up to the readers to decide which. Other than to say (1) read the two screen captures (better still: go to the sources), (2) compare their contents, and -- as always -- (3) be the judge, I will not comment.


Incidentally, the problem with Lawson's critique also extends to  agent-based models (remember these words: methodological individualism), but you'll have to do the digging up.


Update with personal comments (15-08-2016): So far, I have limited myself to report news. Now, however, I will allow myself some editorial comments.

From a third side of the road (yes, Virginia, unlike the "heterodox" label suggests, that road has many sides: feminist economics, Islamic economics, agent-based models, etc.), David Ruccio (an academic and a Marxist) also replies to Noah Smith ("Interpret This!", Occasional Links and Commentary, Aug. 12).

By itself, the fact that a Marxist -- finally! -- replied to a blanket characterization where all "heterodox" are bundled together with post Keynesianism (and with a -- in my opinion -- theoretically inconsistent but "trendy" and highly vocal sect of post Keynesianism, at that) speaks volumes. It was time Marxists assumed a separate identity within the "heterodox" collective.

While there is much to like in Prof. Ruccio's comment (including the examples of mathematical economics inspired by Marxist thought) I wish he had given that a much greater emphasis.


  1. You are naughty, Maggie. Really naughty.
    Keep it up!!
    Your New Secret Admirer

  2. Thanks, NSA. BTY, it's Mag_P_ie (like the bird).

    I love you, too, anyway! :-)

  3. Good post, Magpie. That addendum was sorely needed.
    Marxists should expose the kind of tricks Noah displayed.

    Nigel O.