Wednesday 30 March 2016

Lee: Poverty of Post Keynesian Price Theory.

"In the end, it all comes down to the theory of value". David Ruccio.

The late Prof. Frederic (Fred) S. Lee, it seems, did not mince words. That's an admirable quality, particularly when the targets of one's words are our colleagues.

His 1998 book "Post Keynesian Price Theory" (Cambridge University Press) opens with a highly critical review of what passes for a post Keynesian price theory (this post's title borrows from a subtitle in that book's Introduction).

Lee closes the first section of the Introduction with these electrifying words:
"Post Keynesian price theory has no real existence beyond the idiosyncratic writings of various Post Keynesian economists, its various renditions are theoretically incompatible to a lesser or greater degree, and it has not been entirely freed from neoclassical concepts and terminology. My objective in this book is to move Post Keynesian analysis forward towards a more comprehensive, coherent, realistic - and, indeed, believable - non-neoclassical theory of prices by setting out its non neoclassical pricing foundation by developing an empirically grounded pricing model". (p. 3)

Friday 25 March 2016

Einstein on the Philosophy of Science.

Albert Einstein quoted by Prof. Don A. Howard in "Albert Einstein as a Philosopher of Science":
"In a 1936 article entitled 'Physics and Reality,' he [i.e. Einstein] explained why the physicist cannot simply defer to the philosopher but must be a philosopher himself:
'It has often been said, and certainly not without justification, that the man of science is a poor philosopher. Why then should it not be the right thing for the physicist to let the philosopher do the philosophizing? Such might indeed be the right thing to do at a time when the physicist believes he has at his disposal a rigid system of fundamental concepts and fundamental laws which are so well established that waves of doubt can’t reach them; but it cannot be right at a time when the very foundations of physics itself have become problematic as they are now. At a time like the present, when experience forces us to seek a newer and more solid foundation, the physicist cannot simply surrender to the philosopher the critical contemplation of theoretical foundations; for he himself knows best and feels more surely where the shoe pinches. In looking for a new foundation, he must try to make clear in his own mind just how far the concepts which he uses are justified, and are necessities'."

Monday 21 March 2016

Keynes' Gravitational Waves?

"Einstein actually did for Physics what Mr. Keynes believes himself to have done for Economics." (A.C. Pigou)

Last week's Question and Answer show (Monday, March 13), broadcast by ABC and hosted by Tony Jones, featured a panel of five scientific guests, including Brian Greene -- yes, that Prof. Greene -- answering audience questions.

The first question was:
"What does the detection of gravitational waves actually mean for those of us who aren't so scientifically minded, and what repercussions does it hold for everyone?"

Friday 18 March 2016

Conservative Panic.

(source: h/t David Ruccio)
Some weeks ago ("Liberal Panic", Jan 31) I commented on Glenn Greenwald's denouncing a then starting backlash against the Bernie Sanders nomination in the U.S. and how it would parallel the equally hysterical tantrums against Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K.

Greenwald was right on much, although time shows he did miss two important things.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Blaug & Weintraub: Keynesian Historiography.

(from part i)

Next Blaug examines the question "what did Keynes mean?"

After noting that Skidelsky, Moggridge and Don Patinkin all agree "on the central message of Keynesian economics" Blaug reminds us that Keynesians disagree on many things.

Saturday 12 March 2016

Blaug: Keynesian Biographies.

Reviews, whether of fiction or non-fiction, almost by necessity are more boring than the work reviewed. Take a film: whether it was good or not, directors had at their disposal all the resources of a studio. Reviewers have their written words, only.

Based on that, one could expect less from Mark Blaug's 1994 12-page long joint review of Donald E. Moggridge's "Maynard Keynes: An Economist's Biography" and Robert Skidelsky's "John Maynard Keynes" (volumes 1 and 2): the two leading academic biographies of Keynes.

Without being a thriller, Blaug's review is anything but boring.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Baumol: Marx and the Iron Law of Wages.

"I find few things as discouraging as the persistent attribution of positions to a writer whose works contain repeated, categorical, indeed emotional, denunciations of those views. Marx's views on wages are a prime example. Both vulgar Marxists and vulgar opponents of Marx have propounded two associated myths: that he believed wages under capitalism are inevitably driven near some physical subsistence level, and that he considered this to constitute robbery of the workers and a major evil of capitalism. Yet Marx and Engels tell us again and again, sometimes in most intemperate language, that these views are the very opposite of theirs. These observations, incidentally, are hardly new discoveries. Thus, for example, Roman Rosdolsky (1977, p. 287 ff.) disposes of the subsistence wage allegation and Robert Tucker (1969, ch. 3), and Allen Wood (1972) cover Marx's view on the morality of capitalist distribution very effectively." (Emphasis mine)