Friday, July 26, 2019

Michael Roberts — The world’s scariest economist?

Mariana Mazzucato is one of the world’s most influential economists, according to Quartz magazine. She has won many awards for her work. She is an adviser to the UK Labour Party on economic policy; she “has the ear” of radical Congress representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she advises Democratic presidential hopeful, Senator Elizabeth Warren and also Scottish Nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon. And she has written two key books: The Entrepreneurial State (2013) and the The Value of Everything (2018).

Mazzucato is considered radical, even ‘scary,’ by many mainstream economists and conservative politicians. This is because she has highlighted the important role that the state and governments have played in delivering innovation in technology and in advancing productive investment. The idea that the state can be a leading force in innovation and investment in useful activity is anathema to the right-wing neo-liberal ‘free market’ views of the majority of mainstream economists and politicians.…

Mariana Mazzucato is a fellow traveler with the MMT economists and has collaborated with Randy Wray.

Michael Roberts Blog — blogging from a marxist economist
The world’s scariest economist?
Michael Roberts


Ralph Musgrave said...

".. the important role that the state and governments have played in delivering innovation in technology and in advancing productive investment."

I think everyone with an IQ above zero realized long ago that government funding (e.g. of university research deparatments) is responsible for the bulk of basic research. We don't need Mazzucato to tell us that.

Kirk Franklin said...

IP - just another form of economic rent syphoned off by the wealth defense industry...

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Circus Maximus: Economics as entertainment, personality gossip, virtue signaling, and lifestyle promotion
Comment on Michael Roberts on ‘The world’s scariest economist?’

A closer look at the history of economic thought reveals that there are TWO economixes: political economics and theoretical economics. The main differences are: (i) The goal of political economics is to successfully push an agenda, the goal of theoretical economics is to successfully explain how the actual economy works. (ii) In political economics anything goes; in theoretical economics, the scientific standards of material and formal consistency are observed.

The historical fact is that theoretical economics (= science) had been hijacked from the very beginning by political economists (= agenda pushers). Political economics has produced NOTHING of scientific value in the last 200+ years: Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism, MMT are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, and materially/formally inconsistent. Political economists are NOT scientists but clowns/useful idiots in the political Circus Maximus.

Economics claims to be science and, by consequence, the economist has to uphold scientific standards. Scientific standards are well-defined since antiquity: “Research is, in fact, a continuous discussion of the consistency of theories: formal consistency insofar as the discussion relates to the logical cohesion of what is asserted in joint theories; material consistency insofar as the agreement of observations with theories is concerned.” (Klant)

However, since Adam Smith, the primary task of economists is to deliver some scientifically looking justification for already decided upon policies. Last time it was Friedrich Hayek who acted as a useful academic idiot for Prime Minister Thatcher/President Reagan and the advancement of neoliberalism. Lately, things have changed.

Rockefeller called the university the best investment he ever made. The habit of billionaires to prioritize economics among the sciences for sponsoring (remember that Marx was sponsored by Engels) continues since then. Well-known examples of founding/funding are institutions like the London School of Economics, the Cowles Commission, or the University of Chicago. This, though, is only the historical tip of the iceberg.

Economics has failed as science but economists have made a good job as propagandists.#1, #2, #3, #4, #5 As Keynes quipped: “Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” Note well that it is a matter of utter indifference whether an economist identifies himself as left/center/right. These are only labels for addressing different target groups.#6

It seems that economists have been given a new communication strategy which roughly runs as follows: science ⇓ entertainment ⇑, theory ⇓ narrative/storytelling ⇑, solution-oriented debate ⇓ jolly game show ⇑, promotion of knowledge ⇓ agenda-pushing/disinformation ⇑, authority ⇓ empathy ⇑, clarity/precision/consistency ⇓ swampiness ⇑, logical analysis ⇓ emotional moralizing ⇑, globalism ⇓ nationalism ⇑, towards the true theory ⇓ towards the pluralism of provably false theories ⇑.

Political economists have always been a hazard to their fellow citizens.#7

Some pictorial examples (Source Twitter)

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke