Austrian Economics: An Empirical and Experimental Science

by Mario Rizzo I have been doing research on the ideas of the first-generation Austrian economists (Menger, Wieser and Boehm-Bawerk) as they relate to contemporary developments in behavioral and experimental economics. I have come upon a number of interesting things. I expect to share some of them here as well as in a soon-forthcoming paper. … Continue reading Austrian Economics: An Empirical and Experimental Science

“Rationality” isn’t always Rational

by Mario Rizzo Over the past two years I have been reading more than I ever dreamed about rationality in economics, especially in the standard neoclassical theory of choice. I have done this because I want to get at the root of the controversies concerning whether people’s behavior is, in particular contexts, rational or not.  Claims about … Continue reading “Rationality” isn’t always Rational

The Blinders of Behavioral Economics

by Mario Rizzo  At the turn of the new-year the Financial Times published two small articles about why people often do not adhere to their new year’s resolutions. One article was by a philosopher (Julian Baggini) and the other by a psychiatrist (Antonia Macaro). Interestingly, they each seem to focus on whether people really want … Continue reading The Blinders of Behavioral Economics

Predictably Rational: A Brilliant Book by Richard B. McKenzie

by Mario Rizzo  This is the time of the year that various publications recommend Christmas books or the best books of 2010. (I have never known what a Christmas -- or summer -- book is. Are they supposed to be light reading? I don't believe in reading "light." When I am in the mood for that, I watch TV.)  … Continue reading Predictably Rational: A Brilliant Book by Richard B. McKenzie

Further Thoughts on The Sensory Order

by Roger Koppl Over at Austrian Addiction, Dan D'Amico responds to my recent post on The Sensory Order.  Dan wants to know "what Hayek's theory of neuorscience is really adding here that a more basic understanding of subjective preferences does not already imply?"  Dan is not the only one with this question.  I think enthusiasts … Continue reading Further Thoughts on The Sensory Order

The Sensory Order

by Roger Koppl Over at Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen recently said The Sensory Order is “Hayek's most overrated book.”  In part he was complaining that “many call it his most underrated book.”  Unfortunately, he does not name names.  In any event, Tyler has other gripes including the mistaken suggestion that the science in it was not … Continue reading The Sensory Order

The Method of History

by Gene Callahan I’m currently reading Bryan Sykes excellent book, The Seven Daughters of Eve. Well, excellently written, and, I have to assume, excellent on the genetics. But there are a couple of fundamental misunderstandings of history present in the book, that I think are worth noting, because of the frequency with which people believe … Continue reading The Method of History

Just the “Basic Facts,” Mam

by Gene Callahan I was recently in a conversation with a very bright economist who declared "We are in agreement about the basic historical facts here; we are just interpreting them differently." This is a common but very damaging misunderstanding of historical knowledge: that there are a set of "basic facts" that historians are "given" … Continue reading Just the “Basic Facts,” Mam

The Amazing Brad DeLong

by Mario Rizzo   I don’t know where Brad DeLong acquired his philosophy of economics. DeLong responded to an article by Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, on “austerity.” The following is part of what the Financial Times edited out of the published version. DeLong posted it on his blog. He says there are two types … Continue reading The Amazing Brad DeLong

“In the Long Run We Are All Dead” What Does It Mean?

by Mario Rizzo  Paul Krugman continues to invoke Keynes’s famous statement. I wish Krugman and others would give some serious thought about what it is supposed to mean and the errors it involves.    In the first place, Keynes was complaining about the “classical” economics, that is, the ideas of the economists before him who believed that … Continue reading “In the Long Run We Are All Dead” What Does It Mean?

Robert Barro and His Black Box

by Mario Rizzo I am both intrigued and annoyed by Robert Barro's recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. He adduces empirical (econometric) evidence to support the view that the fiscal stimulus package has done very little good in the short run and will do harm in the long run. I do not want here … Continue reading Robert Barro and His Black Box

Growth Data Are Theoretical Constructs

by Mario Rizzo The reader of newspapers may be confused about the newly published growth figures for the US economy. We are told that the growth rate for the fourth-quarter of 2009 was 5.7%. But when the inventory effect is taken into account it was only 2.3%. What is going on?   Consider a simpler case … Continue reading Growth Data Are Theoretical Constructs

How Mathematical Economists Overreach

by Mario Rizzo In recent months there has been a discussion both in the traditional media and in the blogosphere about why orthodox macroeconomics failed to predict or explain the financial crisis and the subsequent Great Recession. Some of that discussion focused around Paul Krugman’s criticism that economics mistook  (mathematical) beauty for truth. Subsequently, there … Continue reading How Mathematical Economists Overreach

Why Kant Was Smarter Than Behavioral Economists

by Mario Rizzo   Behavioral economists who like to indulge in normative pronouncements have decided that quasi-hyperbolic discounting violates rationality. In other words, suppose a person decides today that he will give up the hamburgers he loves beginning in 2010 (because of the high fat content). But then when 2010 arrives he reverses his decision and … Continue reading Why Kant Was Smarter Than Behavioral Economists

A Tiger Of A Mistake

by Mario Rizzo   UCLA economist Matthew Kahn says that there is a “natural experiment” of the power of the income effect in Tiger Woods’s troubles (HT Greg Mankiw). The fall in income from endorsements should result in Tiger Woods playing more golf tournaments. The relative price (or wage) from the latter source remains unchanged while … Continue reading A Tiger Of A Mistake

Economics as a Philosophical Science

by Gene Callahan I happened to be reading R. G. Collingwood's famous essay (at least famous in my circles!) with the above title. While similar in some ways to Mises's philosophical analysis of the concept of action, there are some quite significant differences present as well, and I thought that Think Markets readers might enjoy … Continue reading Economics as a Philosophical Science

What is Science?

by Jerry O’Driscoll   Some recent controversies move me to take up the topic within the limitations of a blog post.  Many years ago (1956), Fritz Machlup ably addressed the issue in an essay titled “The Inferiority Complex of the Social Sciences.”  He rejected limiting the term science to particular subject matters or methods.  He concluded … Continue reading What is Science?

Mankiw And Meltzer Are Right! More Or Less

by Mario Rizzo   As we have been saying here, the claims that the fiscal stimulus has saved or created X number of jobs is not a simple empirical question. It must be an inference from a model that tells us what would have happened in the absence of that stimulus. Collecting reports from various firms … Continue reading Mankiw And Meltzer Are Right! More Or Less

Mises Was A Scientist

by Roger Koppl Over at Division of Labor, Noel Campbell picks a fight with Austrian fans of Mises.  “I always conceived of Mises’ efforts as attempting to build a logically correct and (therefore) irrefutable description of human behavior. As such, I always viewed Human Action as a work of philosophy, not science.”   Noel hints that … Continue reading Mises Was A Scientist

The Great Moderation In Macroeconomics

by Mario Rizzo   I have now read both Paul Krugman’s New York Times essay on the state of macroeconomics and John Cochrane’s reply. They are each, in very different ways, quite disappointing. The level of argument is poor, the prejudices are simplistic, and the tones are annoying.   Beginning with tones: Krugman is too dismissive of … Continue reading The Great Moderation In Macroeconomics