Thursday, August 31, 2017

Bill Mitchell — When economists lose the plot entirely and show their colours

When I started studying economics at University, I had a lecturer in microeconomics who, thankfully, was an antagonist of the mainstream micro mantra about perfect markets and their capacity to deliver optimal, efficient outcomes for all. She is no longer with us but her early teachings have stayed with me (thanks Kaye!). She used to say that the market was like a voting system where the votes were cast in dollars. The rich have more votes and can sway the outcome in their favour. At the extreme, they can deprive the poor of the essentials of life, yet mainstream economists, who recite the mantra in those textbooks, would claim that outcome was optimal and efficient because supply and demand interacted to determine a ‘market-clearing’ price. 
For those who resisted the socio-pathological tendencies that arise from a complete undergraduate program in mainstream (neo-liberal) economics, it was obvious that the narrative was a fantasy. The real world is nothing like the requirements that the textbooks specify before ‘markets’ deliver optimal outcomes. Deeper study, not usually, taught in standard, mainstream economics programs also allowed one to understand that when the ‘market’ is not as specified in the textbook (read the real world) attempting to engineer ad hoc shifts towards that ‘idealisation’ probably resulted in even worse outcomes. At any rate, application of ‘perfectly competitive’ theory is fraught. 
And that is before we invoke basic morality and human valuation. Unfortunately, events like Hurricane Harvey, bring out economists who think it is smart to apply these ridiculous textbook models and claim authority over the rest of the citizenry. All they achieve is that they utter venal garbage and shame on the media outlets who give them oxygen....
Paragraphing introduced for online readability.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
When economists lose the plot entirely and show their colours
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Tim Worstall is not alone. Another case in point.

"Price Gouging" Is Urgently Necessary
David Henderson


MRW said...

Paragraphing introduced for online readability. Thank God.

Matt Franko said...

I like the smaller paragraphs .... easier to read...