Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

“Why Are Voters Ignoring Experts?”

That is the question Jean Pisani-Ferry asks at Project Syndicate. In the wake of the Brexit vote there is a veritable chorus of experts and economists asking the same question. One explanation I don’t expect to see very often is that the supposed experts systematically ignore their own critical literature. Hubris. Professor Pisani-Ferry inadvertently presents an […]

FLEXIT

“If, as a result of Brexit, the economy crashes it will not vindicate the economists, it will simply illustrate once more their failure.” — Ann Pettifor You can see immigrants. You can’t see NAIRU or flexible labor market policies. Most people wouldn’t know a NAIRU from a Nehru jacket and have probably never heard of flexible […]

The Iatrogenic and Incoherent “Theory” of Flexibility

In its report on “The long-term decline in prime-age male labor force participation,” President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers writes: Conventional economic theory posits that more ‘flexible’ labor markets—where it is easier to hire and fire workers—facilitate matches between employers and individuals who want to work. Yet despite having among the most flexible labor markets […]

Is “Political Correctness” to Blame for Orlando Massacre?

Well, well, the dear old National Rifled Assholeciation has weighed in with its theory. Assault weapons don’t kill people, “political correctness” does. “The National Rifle Association (NRA) on Tuesday defended gun rights, two days after a gunman killed 49 people and left 53 others injured at a gay nightclub in Orlando,” Jesse Byrnes at The […]

Dear Omar al-Ubaydli:

Yes, Omar, I would be delighted to elaborate. Thank you for asking. The point I am trying to make was stated by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty, “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.” The truth of that maxim is illustrated by the claim, in your counterpoint to […]

As Common as Ditchwater

I would like to draw the readers’ attention to an item I posted yesterday and say a few words about the significance of the discovery mentioned in it. The mock “theory of the Lump of Labour” was invented in 1891 by David Frederick Schloss in an article titled “Why Working-Men Dislike Piece Work.” The Oxford […]

Pain for Profit

from The Stage Coach, or the Road of Life (1843) by John Mills, Chapter XI “The Mudlark” The night was very bright; a sharp frosty air whistled from the east, and the moon and the stars sparkled like frozen sleet in the sun. After the governor had scraped off the worst part of the slush, […]

I Confess, Graunt Didn’t Invent Economics…

Aristotle did. As Philip Kreager reminded me: Historians of economics have for some time treated his [Aristotle’s] writings as formative, even though relevant passages in the Politics and Ethics amount to only a few pages. Wait. There’s more: In the Politics, however, population is a recurring topic, extensively discussed and integral to the overall argument. “The […]

“A certain proportion of work to be done”: How John Graunt invented economics

John Graunt’s Natural and Political Observations on the Bills of Mortality (1662) is acknowledged as the inaugural text of “political arithmetick.” Graunt is ranked along with William Petty, Charles Davenant and Gregory King as a major pioneer of “the art of reasoning by figures, upon things relating to government.” In their Outline of the History […]

Prayer – Science = 0

Yes, it’s okay to talk about climate change right now. The devastating natural disaster in Fort McMurray is “consistent” with climate change. The Fort McMurray wildfire is horrific. Miraculously, no people have been killed, so far. Saying that the unseasonably hot conditions in Alberta are “consistent with” climate change is not to say that they […]