Marx’s theory of the falling rate of profit is not only empirically borne out, but the theory he proposed seems to describe accurately how that happens. Furthermore, the whole process is useful for understanding the history of contemporary capitalism.
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.
One of the pluralist theories which has gained prominence following the 2008 financial crisis is Hyman Minsky and his Financial Instability Hypothesis (FIH). Minsky was unique in viewing balance sheets and financial flows as the primary components of capitalist economies, and his focus on the financial system meant he was well-equipped for foresee a crisis much like 2008. Although he died long before 2008 his framework anticipated many of the processes which led to the crash, particularly increased risk-taking and financial innovation which would outstrip the abilities of regulators and central banks to manage the system.
Markets are the focus in modern economics: when they work, when they don’t and what we can or can’t do about it. There are many ways to study markets and how we do so will inevitably affect our conclusions about them, including policy recommendations which can influence governments and other major organisations. Pluralism can be a vital corrective to enacting real policies based on only one perspective and a plethora of approaches provide alternatives to the canonical view. Although they have differing implications, these approaches share the idea that we should take a historical approach, analysing markets on a case-by-case basis; and they share a faith in the power of both individuals and collectives to overcome the problems encountered when organising economic activity.
Firms are the primary places where economic activity takes place in modern capitalist economies: they are where most stuff is produced; where many of us spend 40 hours a week; and where big decisions are made about how to allocate resources. Establishing how they work is hugely important because it helps us to understand patterns of production and consumption, including how firms will react to changes in economic conditions and policy. And a well-established literature – led by post-Keynesians and institutionalists – holds that the best way to determine how firms work is to…wait for it...ask firms how they work. This a clearly sensible proposition that is contested in economics for some reason, but we’ll ignore the controversy here and just explore the theory that springs from this approach.
How countries achieve long-term GDP growth is up there with the most important topics in economics. As Nobel Laureate Robert Lucas put it “the consequences for human welfare involved in questions like these are simply staggering: once one starts to think about them, it is hard to think about anything else.” Ricardo Hausmann et al take a refreshing approach to this question in their Atlas of Economic Complexity. They argue a country’s growth depends on the complexity of its economy: it must have a diverse economy which produces a wide variety of products, including ones that cannot be produced much elsewhere. The Atlas goes into detail on exactly what complexity means, how it fits the data, and what this implies for development. Below I will offer a summary of their arguments, including some cool data visualisations.
The most successful multialternative theories of decision making assume that people consider individual aspects of a choice and proceed via a process of elimination. Amos Tversky was one of the pioneers of this field, but modern decision theorists – most notably Neil Stewart – have moved things forward. At the current stage the theories are able to explain a number of strictly ‘irrational’ but reasonable quirks of human decision making, including various heuristics and biases. Not only this, but eye movements of participants strongly imply that the decision-making process depicted in the theories is an accurate one.
In both economics textbooks and public perceptions central banks are a fact of life. On the wall of my A-level economics classroom there was the Will Rogers quote “there have been three great inventions since the beginning of time: fire, the wheel, and central banking”, summarising how many economists view the institution. There is a widespread belief that there is something different about money which calls for a central authority to manage its operation, a view shared even by staunch free marketeers such as Milton Friedman. This belief is not without justification, since money underpins every transaction in a way that apples do not, but we should always be careful not to take existing institutions for granted and central banking is no exception. In this post I will look at the idea of private or free banking, where banks compete (and cooperate) to issue their own currency.
One method of economic modelling that has become increasingly popular in academia, government and the private sector is Agent Based Models, or ABM. These simulate the actions and interactions of thousands or even millions of people to try to understand the economy – for this reason ABM was once described to me as being “like Sim City without the graphics”. One advantage of ABM is that it is flexible, since you can choose how many agents there are (an agent just means some kind of 'economic decision maker' like a firm, consumer, worker or government); how they behave (do they use complicated or simple rules to make decisions?); as well as the environment they act in, then just run the simulation and see what happens as they interact over time.
A historical glimpse of how economists of the 19th century debated the usefulness of mathematics to economics
The general idea of a Job Guarantee (JG) is that the government offers employment to everybody ready, willing and able to work for a living wage in the last instance as an Employer of Last Resort. The concept tackles societal needs that are not satisfied by market forces and the systemic characteristic of unemployment in capitalist societies. Being a central part of the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), attention for the JG concept rose in recent years.
If there’s one method economists have neglected the most, it’s qualitative research. Whereas economists favour mathematical models and statistics, qualitative research seeks to understand the world through intensive investigation of particular circumstances, which usually entails interviewing people directly about their experiences. While this may sound simple to quantitative types the style, purpose, context, and interpretation of an interview can vary widely. Because of this variety, I have written a longer post than usual on this topic rather than doing it a disservice. Having said that, examples of qualitative research in economics are sadly scant enough that it doesn’t warrant multiple posts. In this post I will introduce qualitative research in general with nods to several applications including the study of firm behaviour, race, Austrian economics, and health economics. More than usual I will utilise block quotes, which I feel is in the spirit of the topic.
The premise of this workshop is that we, as knowledge producers - especially within westernized universities (Grosfoguel, 2013), are significantly implicated in neoliberal imaginaries that are often in service of hierarchical, binary, competitive and linear narratives of growth as civilizational progress.
From the perspective of mainstream theory the effectiveness of monetary policy in bringing down inflation depends on two very important equations the aggregate demand equation and the infamous Phillips Curve Without these it becomes more difficult or rather impossible for central banks to carry out monetary policy and obtain the …
This text provides an easy to understand introduction to complexity economics for non-specialist audiences such as bachelor's students.
Introduction to Pluralism in Economics - From an Economics-without-Capitalism to Markets-without-Capitalism
Prof. Yanis Varoufakis talks in this introductory lecture about the future of our economy and the current state of economics with special regard to pluralism in economics.
This talk is an exploration of a feminist centred world, where women's labour, women's energy, women's contributions to the economy are not a side event but the main event.
L'auteur interroge la compatibilité entre le système capitaliste avec les limites et frontières écologiques.
Economists like to base their theories on individual decision making. Individuals, the idea goes, have their own interests and preferences, and if we don’t include these in our theory we can’t be sure how people will react to changes in their economic circumstances and policy. While there may be social influences, in an important sense the buck stops with individuals. Understanding how individuals process information to come to decisions about their health, wealth and happiness is crucial. You can count me as someone who thinks that on the whole, this is quite a sensible view.
The world is regularly shaken by crises some are bigger others are smaller in scope Local turmoil military conflicts commodity scarcity bank runs health threats the history of mankind can be written as a history of crises Three major global crises occurred in the last fifty years alone the oil …
Mainstream economic narratives notably the concept of comparative advantage trade theory which assumes the equal balance of power between parties are deployed to support the merits of Global Value Chains that the global integration via trade creates mutual gains for both developed and developing countries This narrative is advanced in …
This course will survey contemporary heterodox approaches to economic research, both from a microeconomic and a macroeconomic perspective. Topics will be treated from a general, critical, and mathematical standpoint.
The article summarizes the effects that the war in Ukraine, the resulting economic sanctions as well as associated financial turbulences have for cryptocurrencies and their role in the global financial system.
The workshop deals with the contribution of Plural Economics to the urgently needed change of the economic system towards sustainability and global responsibility. After completing the module, participants should be able to demarcate and explain different economic approaches to sustainability. They should be able to evaluate the respective concepts based on their contribution to the ecological transformation of the economic system.
After completing the module, participants should be able to understand the economic consequences of gender inequality. They should be able to explain the contradictions between capital and care, analyze the labor market with a gender perspective and develop the ability to describe phenomena such as public policies taking into account "gender" as a category of analysis.
A free online course at Masters-level will enable you to understand the past, present and future role of money in society.
The Routledge Handbook of Heterodox Economics presents a comprehensive overview of the latest work on economic theory and policy from a 'pluralistic' heterodox perspective.
Contributions throughout the Handbook explore different theoretical perspectives including: Marxian-radical political economics; Post Keynesian-Sraffian economics; institutionalist-evolutionary economics; feminist economics; social economics.
This book is about history of monetary economic thought. From the 18th century with Hume and Smith to the early 20th, the author explains the different schools of thought regarding the monetary theories and policies and specially the central banking theory.
Taking as its starting point the interdependence of the economy and the natural environment, this book provides a comprehensive introduction to the emerging field of ecological economics.
The Microeconomics of Complex Economies uses game theory, modeling approaches, formal techniques, and computer simulations to teach useful, accessible approaches to real modern economies.
"Thought provoking and fresh - this book challenges how we think about economics.”
Gillian Tett, Financial Times
For further information about recent publicity events and media coverage for Rethinking Capitalism please visit http://marianamazzucato.com/rethinking-capitalism/
Western capitalism is in crisis.
Challenging the Mainstream in the Twentieth Century Economics is a contested academic discipline between neoclassical economics and a collection of alternative approaches such as Marxism radical economics Institutional economics Post Keynesian economics and others that can collectively be called heterodox economics Because of the dominance of neoclassical economics the existence …