Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Assault of Thoughts - 8/31/2011

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

- So... apparently two twelve hour days plunging into an economics graduate program can make you dream about doing math and economics. Unfortunately I can't make any use of it, because (predictably) while I was clearly "doing math" it was all gibberish.

- George Magnus and Nouriel Roubini are both saying that we need to give more credit to Marx. I'm not so sure about that, but I'm looking forward to reading some Marx this year - something I've never really done in any great detail before.

- This is an interesting article from The Atlantic on the declining middle class. It is more careful than a lot of media treatments of this issue in avoiding cliches, but it's not perfect. I was particularly interested in the section where the author is relating a discussion he had with David Autor, and I want to draw your attention to that. I have a research brief that should be coming out of the Urban Institute pretty soon that challenges a lot of the papers that Autor has been writing lately, along the lines that Harry Holzer and others have been criticizing him. The claims that Autor makes are not wrong-headed so much as they are very sensitive to exactly how you talk about the problem. It's not as robust a finding as he suggests it is, I think. I'll post the research brief when it comes out.

- Bob Murphy and Danny Sanchez apparently think Karl Smith is kidding. Fools! On Friday, watch Karl Smith dispel the darkness from the land (I am still shell shocked from my recent pay cut and will be saving the twenty dollars for coffee to keep me awake during my 9:15-10:15 PM macroeconomics TA session).

- Gary Gunnels brought to my attention some Kuhnian insights into economics from the bank of the James River (get it?). I haven't gotten a chance to read it yet, but it looks interesting. Mark Blaug wrote a lot about this too, but to be honest I forgot what he argued - I should go back and look at it again.


  1. Yeah, Kuhn talks about paradigm shifts (which I think is not entirely satisfactory in explaining change in science - but that is another discussion) being internal to the field; and that makes sense to a degree. That's what makes me suspect that economics has but one possible paradigm shift (if that).

  2. I think it has many more than just one paradigm shift.

  3. The rhetoric behind "attack on the middle class" involves pushing the idea that most people in America are poor.

    A wholly absurd concept by itself. As it is, income inequality is lower in Russia than America, but no middle or working class American would rather be middle or working class in Russia.

  4. Roubini and Magnus are attributing to Marx all sorts of arguments Marx never made. They could more logically make reference to Wicksell or Fisher, but I suppose those guys are less exciting? In any case, I am looking forward to Daniel's History of Econ posts. (It seems to me that stopping with Keynes leaves out a *lot* of stuff, but I suppose it would be hard to cover it all...).

    As for the useless dream math... I feel your pain, Daniel.

  5. Your dreams reminded me of this clip:


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