Monday, August 26, 2013

Economics and Reality

There is a piece today in the NY Times asking the existential question about Economics, What good it is? At the same time DeLong has a post with a quote which is the answer:

Larry Summers (1983): "The first way to find a topic is to open Keynes's General Theory at random, read what's on that page, and math it up…"

Now I do not have the reference to the quote but what I believe it says is to write something of merit to the economics community just go to Keynes and take a paragraph and set it to a massive set of incomprehensible equations.

 Which oftentimes is what they do, and even more often without any thought to the reality of the situation.

Imagine, if you will, doing that to say the Bible. Take a paragraph, any paragraph, and then reduce it to equations. Take John Chapter 1:

He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.  John beareth witness of him, and crieth out, saying: This was he of whom I spoke: He that shall come after me, is preferred before me: because he was before me. 

Well I tried but no luck. But then I am not an economist. But Summers had a point.

The Times article states:

The fact that the discipline of economics hasn’t helped us improve our predictive abilities suggests it is still far from being a science, and may never be. Still, the misperceptions persist. A student who graduates with a degree in economics leaves college with a bachelor of science, but possesses nothing so firm as the student of the real world processes of chemistry or even agriculture. Before the 1970s, the discussion of how to make economics a science was left mostly to economists. But like war, which is too important to be left to the generals, economics was too important to be left to the Nobel-winning members of the University of Chicago faculty. Over time, the question of why economics has not (yet) qualified as a science has become an obsession among theorists, including philosophers of science like us.

As we have noted before so many times Economics is not only NOT a science, it is akin to a religion, a religion with many waring sects. Instead of just putting equations to Keynes, they have like the early Church various numbers of their Bishops meeting at various Synods trying to reach a consensus on say John 1: 11]-[16].