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So economics teaching isn't the problem?

by Metatone Wed Dec 31st, 2014 at 07:23:09 AM EST

There's yet another "status quo in economic education is basically fine" piece penned by a fairly eminent educator:

In the interests of brevity (it's a long piece), I'll only quote the beginning and the end:

Beginning:

Thoughts on "Teaching Economics After the Crash" -- Medium

This is a long post on the state of economics and how it is taught to undergraduates. The world is not crying out for another such discussion, so blame Tony Yates, via whom I ended up listening to Aditya Chakrabortty's documentary "Teaching Economics After the Crash" for BBC Radio 4.

Like Tony, I viewed the programme as a hopelessly one-sided critique of the economics profession. Still, it was useful in the sense that it packed all the regular criticisms about economics into one short piece. I agree with most of what Tony wrote but I want to take a different approach because I think it's worth engaging a bit more positively with the criticisms raised.

front-paged by afew


End:

Thoughts on "Teaching Economics After the Crash" -- Medium

Conclusion

I reckon nobody's reading at this point, so I'll just say what I think to keep myself happy.

The world economy is more complicated than any of us can understand and getting more so by the day. There are no magic formulae for understanding it and it takes many years of learning about it to even understand which kinds of approaches to thinking about the economy are useful versus which kinds are not. Undergraduate students are really not the best people to be designing a syllabus for a subject that is so bloody complicated.

But the truth is that many students are dissatisfied and a significant amount of their complaints are well-founded. With all the attractions of the information age available to them, students are more demanding than ever and can be turned off a subject more quickly in the past. We need to work harder to show students how economics connects with the real world and we need to explain to them how we think and why we think that way.

A question and then a thought.

The question: deep in the piece, the author brings out the typical defence when faced with the question of neoliberal bias:

Thoughts on "Teaching Economics After the Crash" -- Medium

Victoria contributed the following:

At the fundamental root cause of the crisis is the belief of economists in the free market capitalist system and the result of this growing faith, that really began in the 1980s with the rise of Margaret Thatcher and with Reagan in the US, the result of that belief was a liberalisation of markets, privatisation, the rolling back of the state, deregulation of the financial sector. And so we began to experience full-blown capitalism. That it would be set forth free reign and the result would be low unemployment, inflation that was under control, respectable even high economic growth rates. The result was that, on the eve of the global financial crisis, economists were looking ahead and imagining a rosy future.

I genuinely do not recognise the economics profession in this description, nor indeed the description of the actual economy. In light of what we know from economic history, could the UK economy of the Tony Blair years -- with its national health care and social welfare system -- credibly be called "full-blown capitalism"?

I'll put aside the straw man about the NHS and social welfare and I'd like to ask people here - what's your experience of economists?

My own is that many of them are happy to be subtle in their specialist area, but default to dogmatic neoliberal attitudes on general issues.

My first observation on this is that it may well be that general economics undergraduate education isn't really the big problem. In that sense, this whole post (like so many defences by economists) is a misdirection. The key question is, if economics isn't so bad after all, how did policy come to be so bad? How is it that the circles of policy and government service default to knee-jerk neoliberalism? And fundamentally, where are the economists speaking up against the knee-jerk policies?

Display:
This seems to be a current fashion. There is an article in the latest NYRB, reviewing Madrick's book.
Jeff Madrick, an economics journalist of some accomplishment and considerable intelligence, shares his views on what's wrong with economics in this engaging book. But methinks the gentleman doth protest too much.
Later in the article, on Say's Law
Madrick's second bad idea, Say's Law, can be treated more briefly, because it really is bad. However, it was mostly discarded more that seventy-five years ago...

[...]

while it's not hard to find austerians among conservative government officials [Hollande?] and their advisers, both in the uS and Europe, and even among a few conservative economists, it is hard to find many among mainstream economists.

Conclusion (not stated) is that economists are irrelevant....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Dec 30th, 2014 at 01:39:30 PM EST
Indeed - but I feel that lets economists off too lightly.

If they are indeed irrelevant, why is that so? What are they doing about it?

They are basically trying to have their cake and eat, pronouncing on everything when it suits them and yet pedalling back to "pure research" with no responsibility for policy whenever they are questioned.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Dec 30th, 2014 at 02:18:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - So economics teaching isn't the problem?
I reckon nobody's reading at this point

Of course, nobody's in the least interested. It's so obvious that economists are good-faith scientifically-minded chaps who have no real influence on what is happening. So if it's a first-class fuck-up you know it's not the economists to blame. Don't you?

gk:

it's not hard to find austerians among conservative government officials [Hollande?] and their advisers, both in the uS and Europe, and even among a few conservative economists, it is hard to find many among mainstream economists

Right, most mainstream economists have spoken out loud and clear against austerity. We have all noticed, haven't we?

There's a word for what we're seeing in both quotes: denial. Will they soon move on to anger?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 30th, 2014 at 03:15:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But they will never move on to guilt.
by rifek on Mon Jan 12th, 2015 at 12:34:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bait-and-switch, schizophrenia, call it what you will but economists are far from 'irrelevant'. Is there any realm of the world where economists have not added their two cents? They like to view themselves as universal scientists (freakonomics and further bullshit). But if it comes to the actual issues of economics there will be no accountability. When things go south they like to portray themselves as toilers in a 'dismal science'. It's all a work in progress you know! Indeed.

Since we stopped listening to traditional moral authorities, value judgements have been turned over to market judgements. Likewise, the clergy have relinquished their role to the economists who are now postmodern priests explaining the alpha and omega of the world to the huddled masses. In the political sphere quite often they are believed to have the powers of prophecy while being wrong all the time. It's only a question of time (which might take a while) until they are driven out but then the shit will really have hit the fan and who is going to replace them?

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Tue Dec 30th, 2014 at 07:57:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thoughts on "Teaching Economics After the Crash" -- Medium
Most of the complaints about economics from the Post-Crash society would have been accurate about any economics curriculum over the past few decades. They are so virulent now, however, because the global financial crisis changed many people's view of economics. To many, the failure of mainstream economics to predict or prevent this crisis indicates that the subject has failed and needs to be fundamentally re-thought.

This evening Italian TV solemnly informed us that the economy was doing badly and that Italians were going to forego going out and celebrating New Year on the town, and instead would be staying home and spending E76 on average per family eating dinner.

Not hard to see why it's called the 'dismal science'!

Especially when economists are regularly trotted out to add weight to policies that to the average citizen look like just more austerity, but not to worry as next year projected growth would be improving from -.2% to -.1%, which then is always revised downwards when the reality has become undeniable (even to economists).

Then this guy

comes on the screen, and we all breathe a sigh of relief, as this is a Chief Hatchet man from the Troika Serious Person and will guide us through the Valley of The Market the Shadow of Death, you can just tell by his expression that all will shortly be hunky-dunky. The goodness and light just seep out of his expression of Optimal Rational Action.

Then the talking head says that he (Padoan, Italy's Economics minister pictured above) may be Italy's next President, as Draghi is too busy saving the Euro to come preside over the sinking ship scurrying with rats that is The Nation under Renzi's (lack of) good governance.

Methinks that will go over like the proverbial ton of fun bricks...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Dec 30th, 2014 at 10:13:50 PM EST
The world economy is more complicated than any of us can understand and getting more so by the day.

And this is stated every time an economist talks about the economy in media or to politicians.

Nah, just kidding. If economists did that then they would give up being the purveyors of conventional wisdom with all the good jobs that gives.

I am just going to quote myself here:

European Tribune - Galbraith, the Conventional Wisdom and the current mess

But who exactly needs the Conventional Wisdom?
Leaving Galbraith and just asking who needs this persistent system of ideas on just how things really work that fills in the gaps, I think it is pretty obvious. It is most critically needed by the government and more so the higher up in government. If the ruler pulls policy lever A: what will happen? If his advisors can not tell him, they are no good. If he himself admits that he does not know the consequences of this actions, then what good is having a ruler? Wheter it is God or market that rewards the faithful, wheter history is run by Great men or the forces of production, there needs to be some way to estimate what will happen.

If economists were honest according to this piece, their advice is not worth more then that of a priest or a court astrologer. So to follow that thought, economists appearing in media or presenting to politicians are lying for profit or are deluded.

If Karl Whelan is a non-deluded honest economist, perhaps he should join other non-deluded, honest economists in doing something about that. There are a lot of academic disciplines were lying for money or spouting deluded conclusions in media ends your academic career. That could be an approach to try.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Dec 31st, 2014 at 05:48:25 AM EST
"The world economy is more complicated than any of us can understand and getting more so by the day."
[...]
"If economists were honest according to this piece, their advice is not worth more then that of a priest or a court astrologer."

This does not quite follow. Pretty much any ecosystem is more complicated than any of us can understand, yet scientists are able to make reasonable predictions of the effect of a single factor even if they can't describe the end state.
We never know the exact positions of atoms in any system yet we are pretty good at knowing the macro behaviours of solids and solutions.
We cannot know the precise state of any chaotic system but we manage to make pretty accurate prediction of the weather, an incredibly chaotic one.

Just because something is too complicated does not mean we can't say anything. And, to be fair, quite a few economists (those who did take real-world evidence into account) did have useful things to say. A major problem came from the fact that people in positions of power were able to buy the type of advice that they wanted.

Many economists realise that -I was at a conference at LSE and asked a few questions to the speaker on this line, and the answer was that people in power will probably not change the way they view the world, but he was hoping that his work would have some influence over next generations of decision-makers.

One the one hand I fear he is deluded -there will always be enough economists ready to be bought to sprout wealth-serving nonsense. On the other hand, IMF and OECD have finally changed their line somewhat. Belatedly and imperfectly indeed, but recognisably so. So maybe they do have a bit of very long term influence.
Although it is yet to translate into political action, so whatever influence they might have is depressingly slow, but not just because economists want to retreat and hide. Krugman and Wren-Lewis have been quite vocal in expressing their frustration that policy was in total contradiction to what economics suggested.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 03:19:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The world economy is more complicated than any of us can understand and getting more so by the day."
[...]
"If economists were honest according to this piece, their advice is not worth more then that of a priest or a court astrologer."
If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.

— John Maynard Keynes



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 03:24:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nothing against dentists, but this could be your best post ever.

If it all were so simple as pulling teeth.

(Here insert video of the father who tied a string to a home made rocket and his son's tooth, fired it up, set it off, and Lo!, Tooth Gone.)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 07:20:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that "inside" critics like Krugman and Wren-Lewis never seem to take the obvious logical next step and note that the economists supporting this quackery are charlatans, pseudoscientists, quacks, frauds, and partisan propagandists, and need to go away.

Krugman isn't really an active economist these days, but Wren-Lewis at least must occasionally receive a Mankiw paper for review. Does he bounce it summarily, noting that he cannot recommend publication due to the author being known as a paid liar and therefore requires forensic reconstruction beyond the scope of ordinary peer review before it can be trusted?

If not, then he is a part of the problem.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 04:24:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Krugman has noted it clearly and more. That he uses slightly different words (though not particularly weaker ones) and thus you won't find your quote verbatim does not detract from the meaning of his statements on his blog. I understand that he is more restricted in his column by NYT policy, although it is hardly conciliatory.

Beyond that, does Mankiw publish much these days? Why would Wren-Lewis be the reviewer necessarily on the odd occasions that he does?
And would this be the appropriate course of action -ie judging the author, not the paper? Can a paid hack not also stumble upon a genuine result on occasion, and if the model and calculations are documented, can they not be judged per se?

Of course, it would raise my skepticism up quite a few notches.

By the way, I do believe that Wren-Lewis is part of the problem, but mostly for his staunch, almost religious, defense of microfoundations (at least in the way it was pursued -why not look for the roots of macro behaviour, but demanding that they be derived from things that we know are imaginary, namely intertemporal utility maximisation, is a dead-end).


Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 04:43:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And would this be the appropriate course of action -ie judging the author, not the paper? Can a paid hack not also stumble upon a genuine result on occasion, and if the model and calculations are documented, can they not be judged per se?

In principle it is possible, but the forensic reconstruction required to validate that the paid liar is, for once, not lying for money would be such an imposition upon the reviewer's (unpaid) time as to render it practically infeasible under the current scope of the peer review process.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 05:05:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact most of current research evaluation, peer review, and academic hiring judges the author and not the work. So this is special pleading on the part of the defenders of economic orthodoxy.

And if we're (rightly) suspicious of biomedical research sponsored by pharmaceutical firms with a pecuniary interest in the research throwing up results in a particular direction, why shouldn't we be suspicious of economic research from pseudo-academic institutions sponsored by entities with political agendas?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 05:39:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course we should be suspicious.

But if the paper is a direct calculation in the framework of a standard model, and that the calculation is correct, then whoever made it should not change the view that it is, indeed, correct.

And I don't dispute that neo-classical and Austrians judge the author rather than the argument. But since we complain when they do, it seems that we indeed find it an inappropriate course of action.

That being said, Mankiw was my first example of clearly paid hack during the discussion with the previously mentioned LSE speaker at the following drinks.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 06:07:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But if the paper is a direct calculation in the framework of a standard model, and that the calculation is correct, then whoever made it should not change the view that it is, indeed, correct.
"Proper" peer review would require replicating such calculations. Nobody does that. Especially if the paper involves a DSGE model. Or, in the case of a paper presenting the result of statistical analysis, the raw data are not provided. Remember the case of Reinhart' and Rogoff's "evidence" supporting austerity?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 06:40:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then peer review is broken -whether it is Mankiw or anybody else writing the paper.

As for R&R (which was not a paper), it should be ground for dismissing any such paper until data and calculations are made available. They were hardly trade secrets (which should not be a valid excuse anyway): they were national statistics...

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 07:24:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Proper" peer review would require replicating such calculations.

I disagree.

Peer review should verify that the methodology used is not insane, that the paper properly references its data, that the author has performed adequate robustness and specification tests, and that the data is available to other investigators who wish to replicate the analysis.

It is possible to imagine cases where the analysis is based on data that cannot be made available to the general public for ethical reasons, or because doing so would be an unreasonable commercial loss for the source of said data. However, in those cases I would argue that journals should demand full independent replication rather than the much more cursory process of peer review.

The above is already a higher standard than current academic peer review observes, and I don't think going beyond this is realistic - or necessarily a desirable use of the reviewers' time.

Now, there's a whole issue of replication not receiving the recognition it ought to. But that is a slightly different matter, and one I think can be solved with standard governance methods, like formalized KPIs for researchers requiring them to publish two replications for each original result.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 08:49:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But if the paper is a direct calculation in the framework of a standard model, and that the calculation is correct, then whoever made it should not change the view that it is, indeed, correct.

No, but your ability to evaluate whether it is, in fact, correct is impaired by the fact that you cannot assume that the calculation was made in good faith.

Peer review presumes that the paper is written in good faith. It is the hiring board's job to prevent the infiltration of pseudoscientists into academia; doing it at the paper level is simply not feasible. So if the presumption of good faith is visibly inapplicable, then "review" is not the correct tool for evaluating the paper. "Forensic reconstruction" is, and that is well beyond the scope of what can be expected of an unpaid reviewer.

Now, for general equilibrium models that doesn't really matter, because general equilibrium papers should be rejected out of hand as the pseudoscientific nonsense they are. And since the defining feature of most economic pseudoscientists is the fact that they are incapable or unwilling to operate outside a single, proven false, modeling framework, the distinction between rejecting the man and rejecting the model is in practice not very great.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 08:39:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many economists realise that -I was at a conference at LSE and asked a few questions to the speaker on this line, and the answer was that people in power will probably not change the way they view the world, but he was hoping that his work would have some influence over next generations of decision-makers.
Evidently the recent crisis and the inability to prevent the ongoing depression are the result of the absolute dominance of the neoliberal ideology and the absence of a credible alternative in the conventional wisdom which is all that can be expected of policymakers. Anyone formally trained (a one-semester course is sufficient, usually worse than a whole degree) in economics after ca. 1980 is suspect, unfortunately. So this speaker is right. The best that can be expected is that the next generation of political leaders entertains at least some doubts about the reigning economic paradigm, and that the next major crisis will find the collective consciousness equipped with analternative paradigm ready to take over when the dominant one is again shown to be inadequate.

Give it 30 years (*). 15 if we're lucky. Of 5 if there is another major crisis (though at the rate things are going a "major crisis" before 1920 might turn into a serious shooting war).

(*) We have had epochal crises after 1873, 1929, 1971, and 2007. Hence we may need to wait at least until the 2030s.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 05:54:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a "major crisis" before 1920
erm, 2020

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 09:42:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The world economy is more complicated than any of us can understand and getting more so by the day.

And this is stated every time an economist talks about the economy in media or to politicians.
This is what Marc Lavoie (a prominent Postkeynesian and hence outside the mainstream) has to say about this issue
Let us first tackle the question of the nihilistic component of fundamental uncertainty. As already pointed out, it must be admitted that those authors who have emphasized the importance of uncertainty have generally overestimated its destructive consequences for economic analysis. Two destructive paths have been pursued: one underlying the presumed irrationality of the agents; and the other the instability of the economic capitalist system. The reader should be convinced by now that ontological and epistemological uncertainty does not of necessity breed irrational behaviour. In fact, can be argued on the contrary that, both in the Treatise on Probability and The General Theory, Keynes is striving to define a realistic and practical theory of procedural rationality based on the limitations of human knowledge and capabilities. When deprived of knowledge, reason cannot be based on simple probabilities and must turn to alternative strategies based on conventions and other procedures. In this context 'Keynes may be viewedas basing the whole of economic theory on a single, broad, non-Neoclassical conception of agent rationality' (O'Donnell, 1989, p.272)

The second path towards nihilistic conclusions follows some of Keynes' arguments. It has been assumed that uncertainty leads to instability since long-term decisions depend on flimsy foundations, subject to sudden changes (1973, xiv, p.114). This has meant to some that a proper theory set in historical time, where these violent changes in opinions would have to be recorded, is beyond the reach of economics. Sticking to Keynes for the moment, it is well known that he also considered uncertainty to be a stabilizing influence on the economy, since a variety of opinions and the confidence with which they are held ensures mitigated aggregate reactions to news (Keynes, 1936, p.172). The position taken here is that the presence of fundamental uncertainty, combined with a rationality based on procedures, generates regular patterns, except in exceptional crises (bifurcations and the like).

...

The implications of all this are that models based on rules of thumb, such as mark-ups, target-return pricing, normal financial ratios, standard rates of utilization, propensities to consume, lexicographic rules and so are perfectly legitimate since they rely on a type of rationality that is appropriate to the usual economic environment. In a world of uncertainty and of limited computational abilities, the economic agent cannot but adopt, except in the simplest of problems, a rationality that is of the procedural type. The models based on rules of thumb are not ad hoc constructions as the mainstream would like them to be because they are not derived from some axiomatic optimizing formalization. Rather, they reflect the rationality of reasonable agents. As such, they have macroeconomic foundations that are more solid, from a realist point of view, than those of the standard mainstream models. Indeed, when one thinks about it, what is more ad hoc: to assume that economic agents follow some rules of thumb and are satisfied once they reach some threshold; or to assume that agents are omniscient, omnipotent and maximize some utility function that contains no conflicting goals, while at the macro level the representative agent acts as both a consumer and a producer? Heterodox economists must feel at ease in dismissing such accusations; it is orthodox theory that makes use of ad hoc methods (Amable et al., 1997). Making use of ecological rationality is perfectly legitimate because this is how people truly behave.

(Post-Keynesian Economics: New Foundations, 2014)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 10:22:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there is a fundamental problem that, because economics arose from accountancy, that it is science founded on mathematical principles.

It isn't. It's not a science at all, dismal or otherwise, it's opinion-based arithmetic.  

The mathematics of sciences are all derivable from first principle primary forces. They are inter-related, testable and repeatable.

No such science exists in economics. An idea of how the world works arises, data is selected to test this idea (and others rejected), trends within that data are selectively measured, statistically analyzed and, surprise surprise, actually reflect the opinion first expressed. Indeed, minor deviations of the selected data from the opinion are cited as proof of scientific rigor.

No, it's not. It's the description of a flat earth resting on the backs of four elephants who, in turn, stand upon the back of a giant, space-faring turtle climbing unsupported upon their own back to reach a conclusion.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Dec 31st, 2014 at 02:14:55 PM EST
Légion d'honneur : Piketty rejette le fait du prince - Libération  Légion d'Honneur: Piketty rejects the presidential fiat - Libération
L'économiste ne veut pas de la Légion d'honneur. Très proche du PS pendant la campagne, il a depuis pris ses distances avec le pouvoir en place.The economist does not want the Légion d'Honneur. Very close to the PS during the campaign, he has since distanced himself from the powers that be.
Un «Je refuse» sur l'air de «J'accuse». Jeudi, l'économiste français Thomas Piketty, chroniqueur à Libération et dont Le Capital du XXIe siècle s'est écoulé à 1,5 million d'exemplaires, s'imposant dans de nombreux pays comme un ouvrage de référence sur le processus d'accroissement des inégalités - et que notre ministre des Comptes publics devait enfin lire pendant la trêve des confiseurs -, a indiqué jeudi à l'AFP «refuser [sa] nomination» comme chevalier dans la dernière promotion de la Légion d'honneur, dévoilée quelques heures plus tôt. An "I refuse" to the tune of "J'accuse". On Thursday, the French economist Thomas Piketty, columnist at Libération, whose Capital in the twenty-first century has sold 1.5 million copies, winning a place in many countries as a reference book on the process of the increase in inequality - that our Minister of Public Accounts was supposed to read during the holidays - told AFP on Thursday he "refused [his] appointment" as a Chevalier in the latest Légion d'Honneur list, made public a few hours earlier.
em>«Je ne pense pas que ce soit le rôle d'un gouvernement de décider qui est honorable», a dénoncé Piketty, paraphrasant Edmond Maire, avant d'inviter l'exécutif à «se consacrer à la relance de la croissance en France et en Europe.» Manière de brocarder la touche ancien-Régime de cette cuvée de gratification où se mêle chaque année légitimité et incongruité, le tout à la discrétion d'une monarchie républicaine notabilisée. ...  "I do not think it is the role of government to decide who is honourable" , denounced Piketty, paraphrasing Edmond Maire, before inviting the executive to "devote itself to stimulating growth in France and Europe." Way to ridicule the ancien-régime touch of this vintage gratification, in which every year legitimacy and incongruity get mixed, all at the discretion of a notabilised republican monarchy. ...
Le refus de Piketty de laisser le pouvoir en place accrocher une rosette à sa boutonnière n'est pas si surprenant. Un temps proche des sphères socialistes, notamment durant la dernière présidentielle, l'économiste, déjà reconnu mais pas encore star, avait milité en faveur d'une réforme fiscale d'envergure avec une plus grande progressivité de l'impôt. Mais, sous la férule de l'alors ministre du Budget, Jérôme Cahuzac, et sans que François Hollande n'y trouve à redire, seul un mini ajustement de la fiscalité du capital sur celle du travail a péniblement vu le jour. Loin de l'ambition affichée quelques mois plus tôt d'estrades en plateaux télé par le candidat à la rose.Piketty's refusal to let the powers that be pin a rosette to his lapel is not so surprising. For a time close to socialist circles, especially during the last presidential election, the economist, already recognized but not yet a star, had argued for a wide-ranging tax reform with a greater progressivity. But under the rule of the then budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac, and without Hollande finding fault, only a mini adjustment of taxation of capital over that of labour painfully emerged. Far from the ambition of a few months earlier on the hustings and the TV shows by the PS candidate.
Dès lors, le conseiller officieux, qui dénonce aussi le déséquilibre de la politique de l'offre engagée et le trop peu de soutien de la demande, s'est fait le procureur intransigeant des petits renoncements et des grandes lâchetés économiques du quinquennat hollandais.From then on, the unofficial adviser, who also criticized the imbalance of the supply-side policy embarked on with too little support for demand, became the uncompromising prosecutor of the small renunciations and the major economic cowardice of the Hollande mandate.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 12:58:25 PM EST
That's always a tough one. His position is admirable and will win him respect in refusing recognition from a government which ignores his economic expertise.

Yet you could equally charge that the honour of Chevalier gives him a pedestal of greater authority from which to further criticize the government.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 01:30:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With a million and a half books sold and the founding of the Paris School of Economics to his credit, he can afford to pass.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 04:09:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Legion of Honour doesn't have much prestige these days, despite it having been created by Napoleon; neither does the other (civilian) decoration, the National Order of Merit. Anecdote: the National Order of Merit was refused by Swiss filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, who reportedly said: "I have no merit and I ain't taking orders from nobody..."
by Bernard on Fri Jan 2nd, 2015 at 02:57:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Superiority Of Economists (pdf):

Abstract

In this essay, we investigate the dominant position of economics within the network of the social sciences in the United States. We begin by documenting the relative insularity of economics, using bibliometric data. Next we analyze the tight management of the field from the top down, which gives economics its characteristic hierarchical structure. Economists also distinguish themselves from other social scientists through their much better material situation (many teach in business schools, have external consulting activities), their more individualist worldviews, and in the confidence they have in their discipline's ability to fix the world's problems. Taken together, these traits constitute what we call the superiority of economists, where economists' objective supremacy is intimately linked with their subjective sense of authority and entitlement. While this superiority has certainly fueled economists' practical involvement and their considerable influence over the economy, it has also exposed them more to conflicts of interests, political critique, even derision.

Authors

Marion Fourcade is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, CA, and associate fellow at the Max Planck Sciences Po Center, Paris. Etienne Ollion is a research fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, University of Strasbourg. Yann Algan is Professor of Economics at Sciences Po, Paris.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 6th, 2015 at 04:31:15 AM EST
Let's not forget that the Chicago School of lunacy, and at least one of its UK equivalents, were bought and paid for with millionaire money as a deliberate pushback against ungoldly commernism.

Austerian academic economists are doing what they're paid to do - no more, and no less.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jan 6th, 2015 at 06:42:32 AM EST
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