Posts Tagged Me

Final Post

So I’ve been thinking about finishing up with this blog for a while. I have completed my economics degree now and have a lot less to say than I did before, at least without turning it into the type of blog where I repeat myself, which was never its purpose (its purpose was to allow me to think critically through different topics and ideas). I’ve had about half a million views on this blog over the past 3 years, and over 5000 comments on about 170 posts, all of which I am grateful for (well, almost all of them), but I think the time has finally come to stop using this page. I can’t guarantee I won’t use it again, but I don’t plan to at this stage.

However, don’t think that this entails me disappearing entirely. Here’s what I will be doing:

  • Starting my postgraduate studies in economics.
  • Writing for Pieria as before, but I won’t cross post to my posts from here.
  • Contributing to a new blog/newsletter at IDEAnomics, a new project focused on bringing dynamics to economics and on reforming economics education (I’ll be more involved with the latter). This project is headed by Steve Keen, and the blog/newsletter will (afaik) include contributions from Cameron Murray, Ann Pettifor, Michael Hudson and others. Be sure to subscribe!
  • Tweeting too much.
  • I have uploaded a full-length pdf of my recent series “Is the Economic Crisis a Crisis for Economics?’, and have also posted an abridged, listicled (ha) version on Pieria.
  • I have written an essay for the new student-led journal Perspectivesstarted by the Economics Society at King’s College London, which is expected to be published in October. It is on the subject of whether economics is – or should be – a branch of science or philosophy. Incidentally, Noah Smith just wrote an article in a similar vein, but mine is more long winded comprehensive.
  • I will still respond to emails at unlearningeconomics at gmail dot com (hopefully more reliably than I have done in the past – sorry!) Alternatively, feel free to comment on my ‘About‘ page.
  • Hanging around the blogosphere.

Thanks to my readers, frequent commenters, and followers of various stripes. I will leave you with a few, similar bloggers you should follow if you like my blog, but who I haven’t recommended before (afaik): Cameron Murray at Fresh Economic Thinking; Graham Joncas at Linguistic Capital; Ramanan at The Case for Concerted Action; Squarely Rooted (who wrote this exceptional piece on Piketty); Robert Nielsen; Dan Gay over at Emergent Economics; and Dan Kervick over at Rugged Egalitarianism. Or why not click ‘random post’ in the top left and see if there’s something you haven’t read?

So, erm, keep unlearning, or something…

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Not Ending the Blog

This is just a quick post to let people know that I am not ending the blog. However, readers might have noticed posting has slowed down a bit recently (4 and 3 posts in September and October respectively, versus 6 and 7 in July and August), and this is essentially just because I feel like I have less to say. The reason I started this blog was to get some sort of critical debate over the state of economics and learn (or unlearn, groan) about economics as a field – in other words, the kind of thing that you simply do not find on an economics degree. The blogosphere has definitely delivered in this area, but since I’ve now gotten what I set out to get, I feel I should focus more on other things.

I still have the same basic opinion as when I started the blog: neoclassical/mainstream economics (which exists, no matter what economists say!) is questionable in terms of relevance, coherence and methodology, and is not the only or best way to do ‘economics’, which itself cannot be thought of as an isolated, separate sphere. My opinions on some things have changed: I think some areas of neoclassical theory – as well as econometrics – are worthwhile, and that heterodox economists get some things wrong (the chief one being repeating the same criticisms over and over). My opinion is now less “neoclassical economics is nonsense!1!!” and more “the research program has reached its limitations and needs to be replaced and/or confined to specific spheres”.

However, I am also more optimistic about the discipline changing than I used to be. Real life discussions about the state of economics simply don’t have the same air of hostility as those on the internet – in my experience it’s not difficult to find mainstream economists who will tell you macroeconomics, undergraduate economics and ‘free market’ economics, as well as other areas, are generally garbage. The difficulty lies in trying to get them to think in any other way than the ‘individual agent faced with choices’, but such alternative theories are being developed, and as awareness of them increases, economists will hopefully be able to see things in other ways.

In any case, announcing that I’m “ending the blog” seems like a larger scale version of where somebody in an internet argument says “right, I’m done here” and then after a short break continues replying. Several people have told me attempting to give up blogging is simply futile, and I cannot guarantee that events or economists will not force me to mouth off (like my last post). There are therefore a few possibilities as to how the blog might change after this point:

  1. I write similar style posts but further apart.
  2. I write longer, more comprehensive posts but at a much lower rate.
  3. I start to write shorter posts that deal with a specific thought or idea, or bounce off another bloggers’ post.

So, yeah, stick around! Posting will probably be more sporadic but it will still be there. I’ll also carry on tweeting, though again perhaps less than before. In the mean time, if anyone reading doesn’t yet read these blogs, then you should start.

PS As you might have guessed, this post is actually quite a non-event; I’m just announcing it so I feel less pressure to post regularly.

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Links and Stuff

This (semi-)post will meander.

The website mindful money followed up on its recent post about ‘New Economics’ sites, in which I was happy to be mentioned, with interviews with some of the bloggers, including Steve Keen and me. Here is the interview ‘home page,’ and here is my interview. A brief excerpt, sure to be hated by economists:

In economics, the elephant in the room is, and always has been, assumptions…many economic models are invalid before we even begin, simply because the assumptions don’t resemble the real world at all.

Vaguely related, I recently claimed on twitter that Bob Solow was the most quotable economist of all time. My above point about assumptions reminds me of another of his – on why he doesn’t engage neoclassical economists:

Suppose someone sits down where you are sitting right now and announces to me that he is Napoleon Bonaparte. The last thing I want to do with him is to get involved in a technical discussion of cavalry tactics at the Battle of Austerlitz. If I do that, I’m getting tacitly drawn into the game that he is Napoleon Bonaparte.

To this end, Miles Kimball – a guy who is so nice and open minded I feel like I am kicking a puppy by daring to disagree with him – has a post on economic models that I would surely be excoriated for (‘straw man’) if I were to post it as a parody:

The closest we can come to treating consumption, leisure and the public good in this model as ordinary goods is if we imagine a social planner…in other words, the social planner I am talking about is not a fallible human, but the Invisible Hand.

I’m sure Gavin Kennedy would take issue with the use of the Invisible Hand metaphor, but seriously? There is an obvious chicken and egg problem if we are to invoke the ‘free market’ as a mechanism before trade takes place. I mean, I also object to the idea that there is some sort of magical omnipotent force making everything perfect in a market economy.

In other news, OWS have a video in which Raghuram Rajan repeats various crap and John Cassidy is unable to escape the governments versus markets mentality. Nonetheless, I am glad to see it. Anyway, I could ramble on for a while but I’ll stop here.

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