My copy of Capital hasn’t arrived yet

So I can’t start reviewing it.  I am very excited, as I’ve told readers before my first economics book (which I didn’t read particularly well) was Das Kapital, so my formative experience with economics was one about factors shares.  To get myself ready I have been reading around the issue – on top of the usual reading I’ve been doing on income distribution work I’ve been trying to catch up a little bit on the factor share stuff.  So I’m excited about my book finally turning up.  One of the issues with living in New Zealand I guess!

However, I’ve seen some people discussing it on twitter, and I was a bit upset about this part of the book:

As I said:

I hope this is not representative of what happens in the book.  It betrays one of two things:

  1. a fundamental misunderstanding of what economic modelling is and why it is used as a tool
  2. a straw man attack (a particularly arrogant one) used to take away attention from any inadequacies in his own argument

Given Piketty is several orders of magnitude smarter than me, it has to be the second – which is a very disappointing rhetorical play to roll out when discussing economic issues :(

He is legitimizing a view of the discipline that is frankly false and not helpful for us trying to answer questions to create knowledge – economists have the role of discussing trade-offs to help us consider what is going on in the world around us, waving our disciplinary wang in each others faces to try to win an argument without proper discourse doesn’t help this!

St Patrick’s day

Today is St Patrick’s day – as it is a Monday I’m not sure people will be celebrating, which is a pity.  I know that I will be at least.  I’ll do my typical thing and link to this song:

Frik me that is enormous, sorry I don’t know how to make it smaller!

If you want any commentary about it, I’m sure I’ve written about it in the past, it’ll come up by searching St Patrick’s Day on the blog.  Still I won’t really be around today, I’ll be reading a bunch of essays by old Irish authors starting with a reread of this one.

Economic forecasters aren’t all that bad

Economists get a lot of criticism for failing to polish their crystal balls thoroughly enough before reading the economy. So how good are people forecasting other complex systems? Physicist types. Real Scientists. Let’s ask a weather forecaster how accurate their forecasts are a couple of days out. Days, not months, quarters, or years.

…if our forecasts are about 60 percent accurate or higher, then we consider that to be a good estimate.

Well, that’s slightly better than flipping a coin.

Recent unemployment is entirely cyclical?

The Treasury has just released a crop of Working Papers. Great to see and will read them with interest.

I had a quick read through the first one, which is on “Recent Unemployment Experience in New Zealand

It’s an interesting paper and worth a read. But they reach a surprisingly strong conclusion, where I think a more nuanced interpretation is required: Read more

A ‘Top 10′ economics links for romance and matching

On Valentine’s Day I had the opportunity to write a Top 10 at 10 for the always good Rates Blog.  As it was Valentine’s Day I thought linking to some romantic economics might be a good idea.

As the sexiest economist competition started that day – I didn’t have the opportunity to point this out.  As a result, I’m doing it now!

Note:  If I had spotted it beforehand, this would have been in there.  Tim Harford is so good at communicating economic ideas!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from all of us at TVHE.  As you may have seen, James has already sorted Christmas Cards for you.

Avoid time inconsistent social choices this Christmas.  I am not just talking about eating and drinking too much – also avoid telling that relative you don’t really like how you really feel!  And if you’ve been drinking, and don’t think you have the willpower to keep your mouth shut, just think about us.

What can I say, we’re economists and so we deeply care :)