Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Assault of Thoughts - 9/28/2010

"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK

- Jonathan Catalan blogs on Callahan and Murphy's arguments about overproductionism. He is not convinced. Recently I've found overproductionist arguments quite interesting. Unlike underconsumptionist versions of the "general glut" they're usually more riddled with fallacies (although underconsumptionist point have certainly been made badly too). But they were extremely popular at one point in time. I have two general thoughts on overproductionism: (1.) I think it's hard to talk about overproductionism without introducing money and prices, and even then it's hard, and (2.) when we say "overproduction" what we often really mean is an overproduction of everything relative to the utilization of labor (and sometimes money as well). The classic response to the Malthusian point is that an overproduction of one thing means an underproduction of something else. I'm not sure if that's strictly true or not, but if what is "underproduced" is labor, that doesn't exactly mean that everything is fine. That's the whole problem! The question is - will the market right itself, and how quickly? A lot of the people talking about overproductionism in the early twentieth century focused on what is done with the labor that wasn't being used. The answers ranged from unwanted unemployment to productive and cultured leisure, to further application in the labor market (raising living standards). The final option of course was only available to people who did not think there was a shortage of effective demand (which is of course where Jonathan and I probably differ on some occasions).

- Menzie Chinn writes about crowding out (or the lack thereof). A while back Steve Horwitz wrote a blog post about how stimulus proponents forget about the problem of crowding out (how else would they advocate a stimulus?). It always amazes me that looking at the situation and concluding that crowding out is not happening is tantamount to "forgetting about crowding out" to some people. It's the same with Krugman and DeLong - if you follow them, they talk about crowding out quite regularly. This is certainly on people's radar screens.

- Frances Woolley talks about how it's getting harder to publish in economics. Well that's not encouraging! Hopefully this provides an incentive to publish journals more often, expand them, expand online content, etc.

- Evan shares an interesting looking arts promotion project in Hyde Park, his new home.

- If anyone knows any good sources on Bertrand Russell's views on economics or his interaction with the Cambridge economics department, I would be very interested in hearing about it.

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