Saturday, August 13, 2016

First post

I've started up this blog as

1) a record of my undergrad career trying to learn real economics, not just the Republican/libertarian propaganda in American-published undergraduate textbooks.

2) a more "professionally presentable" blog than what I've published before - though I guess (1) above has kinda pooched that project right away, hasn't it?

But re: (1) above, and the title of this blog generally, I think it needs explaining:

I've been reading blogs by real economics professors for a few years now (go look at the blogroll to the right). So I was very disappointed to see what's presented as "economics" in introductory textbooks - not just freshman intro books either, but third-year sector classes.

Why have a development econ class that concentrates on the Solow equation and completely ignores institutions, corruption, industrial policy, traditional economies, or aid organizations? Why do we learn that opening an economy is good for growth when Japan, South Korea, the UK and the US's growth history all apparently proved the opposite? Why present the Kuznets curve as a "proof" that equality eventually returns over the long-run of growth, when Kuznets himself apparently cautioned against reading too much into it, and when Daron Acemoglu has argued (pdf) that it's just an artefact of political economy anyway?

How can labour economics models justify fixating on the partial equilibrium of the labour market without taking into account demand? And wouldn't admitting to a forward-falling labour supply curve change all the arguments about "perverse incentives" of unemployment insurance and state-funded welfare payments?

Why teach a second-year multi-period microfounded macro model where all government does is steal people's money and spend it on booze and smokes? Is it because if your model puts some of that money into income supports and the rest into investment in public capital, it ends up making a persuasive case for "socialism"?

In fact, where is the role of government in general? Isn't public-owned capital part of the production function? Why hide this in a third-year public expenditures class? Why don't we get to see what happens to these models when you include transaction costs? Or has mainstream economics really not included them in its models? Governments are part of economies, right? I'd have to think that it'd be trivial to find a discounted present value for government institutions based on the transaction costs they reduce: is nobody doing this?

Basically, I haven't found undergraduate economics satisfying so far, and so I've had to go looking for it somewhere other than my university. Thus the blogroll on the right, and thus this blog here.

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