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!

Discussion Tuesday

A statement that is becoming increasingly popular – but is it true?

Taxing capital, which is wealth, is the right way to address fundamental inequalities of opportunity in society

Once again, remember that these are points for discussion – I am not saying I agree or disagree with them.

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.

On economics: Germs of choice

Recently Alex Coleman stated on twitter that he found economics ridiculous (in his defense, I specifically believe he is talking about macroeconomics – not the other 95% of economics that is not macroeconomics.  Also, he probably heard an economist on the radio – we always sound a bit ridiculous floating in the media).  That’s cool.  A lot of tweets were written by people, most of which I won’t bother replying to as they tend to be hogwash that people throw out when they know nothing about economics but just want to attack economists – it frustrates me, and I’d rather not be frustrated right now ;) .

However, I read these sorts of threads as sometimes people make interesting points I had not heard, or had heard before but feel like I want to consider them more.  I found this comment by Danyl from Dim Post interesting in that way:

So what does that mean?  I’ll give it a go, and hopefully my discussion is in the same way he is considering it!

Read more

Some broad lessons from the GFC

I had to do a brief chat about the Global Financial Crisis, “mistakes” that were made, and the role of the international financial architecture, for a organisation I’m not naming with people I’m not naming.  It was Chatham House rules, but nothing particularly rough was said – so I’m more not naming anything as I like to let people’s minds run wild!  Anyway, here are the notes I wrote for myself in preparation – make of them what you will.

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Taxing: Choice and policy consistency

Offsetting recently posted about a tweet by Gareth Morgan on eating and control, including a reply I popped up.  Essentially, Gareth’s tweet implied that the way individuals make choices indicates we have no choice over how much they eat.  I disagreed talking about precommitment – he stated I assumed perfect information, which is both a touch untrue and (surprisingly to many) irrelevant.

It did get me thinking though.  The two of us actually have almost exactly the same model of choice in our heads for this issue, and as a result any differences of view of on the appropriateness of policy that we might have are not due to differences in the underlying model. Read more