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The Crisis in Economics [Paperback]

Edward Fullbrook

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Book Description

June 5 2003 0415308984 978-0415308984 1
Economics can be pretty boring. Drier than Death Valley, the discipline is obsessed with mathematics and compounds this by arrogantly assuming its techniques can be brought to bear on the other social sciences.
It wasn't going to be long, therefore, before students started complaining. The vast majority have voted with their feet and signed up for business and management degrees, but in the past two years there has grown an important new movement that has decided to tackle those who think they run economics head-on. This is the Post-autistic Economics Network.
The PAE Network started in France and has spread first to Cambridge and then other parts of the world. The name derives from the fact that mainstream economics has been accused of institutional autism, ie. qualitative impairment of social interaction, failure to develop peer relationships and lack of emotional and social reciprocity. In short, economics has lost touch with reality and has become way too abstract.
This book charts the impact the PAE Network has had so far and constitutes a manifesto for a different kind of economics - it features key contributions from all the major voices in heterodox economics including Tony Lawson, Deirdre McCloskey, Geoff Hodgson, Sheila Dow and Warren Samuels.

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The book as an excellent tool to introduce undergraduate and graduate students to a critical understanding of the current state of economics.
–Frederic S. Lee, University of Missouri-Kansas City

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Most of us have chosen to study economics so as to acquire a deep understanding of the economic phenomena with which the citizens of today are confronted. Read the first page
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1.0 out of 5 stars Yes!There is a crisis in Economics.Keynes started it in 1936 March 31 2005
By Michael Emmett Brady - Published on
Fullbrook(F)is the editor of a collection of essays that combines previously published articles from the post-autistic movement's journal with some brief essays written by post keynesians.In fact,this reviewer sees very little difference between the economists who make up the post keynesian movement and the post autistic movement(p-a-m).See the essay by Marc Lavoie.The combined argument of all of these essays is the claim that economists need to break free from the irrelevant use of formal,mathematical modeling that is the hallmark of neoclassical economics.It is also claimed that the p-a-m is not opposed to the use of mathematical methods that model reality(the real world).There is no discussion of the fact that,in one way or another,all mathematical modeling is, to some degree or another,unreal in that simplifications or abstractions from reality must be made.The real criterion with which to judge mathematical modeling is the ability of the model to explain the real world in a manner that allows the user of the model to understand that particular aspect of reality in a manner that is an improvement on existing models.This is not what the p-a-m is arguing in support of.Consider the following:"...-The socalled"micro-foundations of macro",the Holy Grail of conventional theory.This has been a powerful stick with which to beat dissidents,from the lowly post-graduate student right up to Keynes himself-after all,where were the micro-foundations of his so-called General Theory."(P.Ormerod,2003,p.142).Keynes's microeconomic foundations are contained in chapters 19, 20, and 21 of the General Theory(GT).Keynes then compares and contrasts his mathematical modeling with that of A C Pigou's in the appendix to chapter 19.Unfortunately,the main post keynesian supporters of the p-a-m(Davidson,Harcourt,Dow,Lawson,Lavoie,Hodgson,etc.)accept the claims of Richard Kahn and Joan Robinson that Keynes was a poor mathematician by 1927 who did not understand formal microeconomic theory.Thus,he was unable to formalize any microeconomic foundation in the GT because he had only a vague understanding of what Marshallian micro theory ,that he only studied for 6 weeks,was all about,despite the valiant efforts made by his collaborators(Kahn and Robinson)to help him get it straight.In the end, Keynes made a mess of the GT by totally misspecifying his aggregate supply function.Fortunately, M.Kalecki had already published a mathematically rigorous and superior version of the GT before Keynes in 1933. Such are the beliefs of the post keynesians .Of course,any competent mathematician can derive Keynes's general theory result.It is that w/p=mpl/(mpc+mpi),where w/p is the real wage,mpl is the marginal product of labor,and mpc and mpi are the marginal propensities to consume consumption goods and investment goods,respectively.If mpc+mpi<1,then you obtain involuntary unemployment.Keynes would have some very serious reservations about a movement that emphasizes his obiter dicta,like animal spirits and conventions ,while ignoring the major result of the GT,which was the mathematical proof of the existence of involuntary unemployment.This book is just not worth buying in its present form.Most of the essays need a much more careful discussion of the philosophy of mathematics before they criticize the prevalent use of mathematical modeling in economics.

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