Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Noah Smith's Bestiary

...which I always thought was spelled "beastiary", but now I am corrected.


I'm very glad to see Market Monetarists on the list.

I actually feel a little sorry for the New Classicals, who are also on the list. I always think of New Classicals in the blogosphere like my grandad (not the one that I know reads this blog - you're quite tech savvy) who discovered the internet as a new medium to be just as cantankerous as he usually is. It's not strictly "trolling", it's just business as usual but on the web.

I could be wrong - maybe they are genuine trolls. I just picture them as garden variety curmudgeon's with a blog.

Austrians of course come in for criticism as well. I've departed from Noah's characterization in the past. Treating them like tin-foil hat wearing goldbugs may describe a few but it allows a lot of Austrians to skirt criticism by (legitimately) convincing themselves that that's not them. Granted, many of those escapees of criticism will be caught up in the libertarian entry in the bestiary.

I loved the Post-Keynesian picture, but felt a little bad there too since I know a few of these guys now (and they actually aren't troll types). Ah well.


Speaking of Post-Keynesians, we're well into neo-Kaleckian models now, which I like a lot. They don't feel all that different from standard macro (not DSGE stuff necessarily, but other models). You have most of your standard pieces, but there are also assumptions about mark-ups, differential savings rates, and capital utilization rates - all of which are very appealing and easy to work in. The last element is particularly appealing to me. I anticipate coming out of this course still a fully dedicated mainstream New Keynesian - not some outspoken critic of neoclassical economics - but with a lot of modeling insights from the Post-Keynesians.


  1. LOL. Noah Smith's post was quite amusing. As for the Post Keynesian models...don't you think that Keynes got it all right in the General Theory, Daniel Kuehn? According to Dr. Michael Emmett Brady, a leading Post Keynesian economist (Joan Robinson, who also was quite Kaleckian in her economics) claimed that there were many mathematical errors in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money that were taken at face value by the economics profession. Keynes's mathematical model in Book V of The General Theory *is* correct. While capital utilisation rates may be interesting, there is no need to "correct" or "interpret" Keynes's magnum opus.

    1. I think you need to not think of them as a correction or interpretation of Keynes. Obviously Keynes influences them, but you're trying to pick a fight here which perhaps Joan Robinson actively picked, but which largely misses the point.

      These are interesting, under-appreciated models. Who cares about the General Theory (in this context that is... I obviously care about the General Theory). Leave the preservation of the memory of old texts to the Austrians. I'm not sure it's a good trait for Keynesians. The General Theory is a tremendously insightful book that we can get a lot out of by reading today. But then again, that describes a lot of books.

    2. I'm not trying to preserve the memory of the GT. I'm merely pointing out that the mathematics in it are correct. The thing is Daniel, the Post Keynesians market themselves as the truest Keynesians, when that's not necessarily the case. How am I picking the same fight that Joan Robinson actively picked? I'm trying to say that the maths behind the GT is correct, nothing more or less, and that there is no need to correct or interpret Keynes.

    3. Blue Aurora-

      The reason for rejecting Kaleckian/Post Keynesian models here reminds me a little bit of the arguments that Rothbard makes in "Keynes the Man". If you haven't read it, Rothbard basically says, "Keynes was a homo and a weirdo and a big jerk [and so his economics must be bad]!" If Joan Robinson was incorrect in her assessment of the GT, bad on her: it is still possible though that her friend Kalecki's models are valuable.

    4. I have read it. I'm not saying that Kaleckian models should be rejected per se, I'm just saying that they weren't necessary in the first place. Also, Kalecki accepts the limiting/relative frequency approach to probability, which according to Dr. Michael Emmett Brady, requires more restrictive assumptions than Keynes's Boole-derived approach to probability. In any case, there are things in Post Keynesian economics I do find somewhat interesting, despite Joan Robinson's intellectual dishonesty - Kaldor's growth theory for instance, and Minsky's Financial Instability Hypothesis.

    5. I don't understand the argument at all Blue Aurora. Kalecki came before the General Theory, so it's certainly not trying to correct or interpret it. Robinson brought him to Cambridge because of the similarities with Keynes. I don't think anyone is trying to correct Keynes's math.

    6. Joan Robinson does state in a book that Keynes's mathematics in the GT are incorrect. Dr. Michael Emmett Brady's critique of Joan Robinson is covered in his book, "Essays on J.M. Keynes and...". Having said that, be warned that the book is an anthology of essays that are highly repetitive, but some of them are actually of good quality, and in my opinion, deserve to be published at peer-reviewed journals.


      One final thing: Why are people still doing reinterpretations of Chapter 3, when Keynes himself states in a footnote in Chapter 3 that Chapter 20 is where the mathematics behind the employment function will be found? Why are there Post Keynesians claiming that the GT needs to be re-interpreted and the mathematics need to be corrected? Why do Post Keynesians avoid Book V of the GT?

  2. That was pretty funny, even if the guy is into bestiality.


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