Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Death of Economics

I finally started Keynes's "General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money". I got bogged down in the 2nd chapter, "The Postulates of the Classical Economics". I was having trouble getting what "marginal disutility of employment" meant, and, wading through Keynes's writing style.

So, I decided to give it a rest for a while. I read "Microeconomics Made Simple" by Austin Frakt & Mike Piper. It is subtitled "Basic Microeconomic Principles Explained in 100 Pages or Less". The "100 Pages or Less" series I'm guessing is like the "for dummies" books. It is available in Kindle format for free at the link above. OK, some basic concepts refreshed, but ...

I thought about going back to the PDF I downloaded from the MIT Open Courseware site: the alternate (i.e., not $200) textbook to 14.01, Principles of Economics, at MIT. It is also titled "Principles of Economics", by Libby Rittenberg and Timothy Tregarthen. I had read 1 chapter of it and decided to take the historical approach instead. Going back to this book, it's an 1100 page PDF - with no table of contents! What is up with that, very hard to work with.

BTW, here is the listing of all Economics courses at MIT.

I guess I'll keep slogging with the Keynes. Overall, my attempt to study Economics has been discouraging. So many of the assumptions underlying its basic principles seem way too simplistic. The notion that consumers (and producers) are "rational agents" is an example. Having lived through the Dotcom bubbles v1 and v2 and the housing bubble of the 2000s, it is completely evident to me that herd mentality greatly outweighed any kind of rationality during all of those periods. And I have yet to hear any mention of Marketing - the great driver of our consumer society - in anything I have read about economics. Maybe Behavioral Economics addresses this - hopefully I'll get to that soon.

Additionally, Economics is so politicized. I guess that you can always find a few scientists willing to drink some tasty koolaid in exchange for hefty research grants - climate crisis deniers for example - but in Economics it seems like it is half the field. Maybe this is evidence that Economics is indeed not a science: only 4% of scientists identify as Republican, while maybe 1/2 of economists seem to identify strongly with the Republican mindset.

1 comment:

greg said...

Christopher J Heinz, How the hell are ya? Check my economics blog. The Saint.