This panel discusses the role of mathematics and history in economics. Lord Robert Skidelsky and Dr. Ha-Joon Chang advocate for a more prominent role of history and a less prominent role of mathematics within economics. Prof. Steve Pisckhe and Prof. Francesco Caselli defend the dominant role of mathematics within economics. Each of the speakers gives a 10-15 minutes talk advocating his position, before the panel is opened up for Q&A. The discussion is moderated by Prof. James Foreman-Peck.
Michael Kalecki famously remarked “I have found out what economics is; it is the science of confusing stocks with flows”. Stock-Flow Consistent (SFC) models were developed precisely to address this kind of confusion. The basic intuition of SFC models is that the economy is built up as a set of intersecting balance sheets, where transactions between entities are called flows and the value of the assets/liabilities they hold are called stocks. Wages are a flow; bank deposits are a stock, and confusing the two directly is a category error. In this edition of the pluralist showcase I will first describe the logic of SFC models – which is worth exploring in depth – before discussing empirical calibration and applications of the models. Warning that there is a little more maths in this post than usual (i.e. some), but you should be able to skip those parts and still easily get the picture.
Feminist economics is a key component of the movement for pluralism in economics and one that has, to some extent, been acknowledged by the mainstream of the profession. It seeks to highlight issues which affect women because (it claims) they have not traditionally been recognised in a field dominated by men. On top of this, it seeks to carve out a space for women in the discipline, both for intrinsic reasons of fairness and diversity and because it means that women’s issues are more likely to be highlighted going forward.
A historical glimpse of how economists of the 19th century debated the usefulness of mathematics to economics
“Economics is the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses1.” This is how Lionel Robbins came to define economics in the early 1930s and there is a good chance that many of you heard a variant of this definition in your first Economics 101 lecture.