[9/21/19] Bernard Lonergan’s Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics prescinds from human psychology:
- A study of the mechanics of motor-cars yields premises for a criticism of drivers, precisely because the motor-cars, as distinct from the drivers, have laws of their own which drivers must respect. But if the mechanics of motors included, in a single piece, the anthropology of drivers, criticism could be no more than haphazard. [CWL 21, 109]
- our inquiry differs radically from traditional economics, in which the ultimate premises are not production and exchange but rather exchange and self-interest, or later, exchange and a vaguely defined psychological situation. Our aim is to prescind from human psychology (so) that, in the first place, we may define the objective situation with which man has to deal, and, in the second place, define the psychological attitude that has to be adopted if man is to deal successfully with economic problems. Thus something of a Copernican revolution is attempted: instead of taking man as he is or as he may be thought to be and from that deducing what economic phenomena are going to be, we take the exchange process in its greatest generality and attempt to deduce the human adaptations necessary for survival. [CWL 21, 42- 43]  (Click here for previous “Single Paragraphs)
One cannot help but think that Bernard Lonergan had functional macroeconomic dynamics clearly in mind as he treated the intelligibility of world process in CWL 3, Insight: …, which is very much an implementation of the act of understanding of mathematicians and natural scientists. In his understanding of mathematics, the natural sciences, and the science of macroeconomics in particular, he grasped that the explanation of the dynamic concrete process is expressed by a mathematical conjunction of component abstract primary relativities with component concrete secondary determinations from the non-systematic manifold. And these secondary determinations, such as particular prices and quantities, are to be interpreted in the light of the significant, abstract, explanatory variables rather than in the obscurity of the IS-LM, and AD-AS models. (Continue reading)
Our references in this section are [Burley, 1992-2] and [Burley and Csapo, 1992-1].
Burley, Peter and Csapo, Laszlo, (1992) Money Information in Lonergan-von Neumann Systems, Economic Systems Research, Vol 4, No. 2, 1992 [Burley and Csapo, 1992-1]
Burley, Peter (1992) Evolutionary von Neumann Models, Journal of Evolutionary Economics 2 , 269-80 [Burley, 1992-2]
We consider a game-theoretic, von Neumann model of the transitional process from an initial stationary state to a more abundant stationary state, with matrix A of inputs and matrix B of outputs containing explanatory functional variables. (continue reading)
Philanthropy: Anyone familiar with the medical and cultural institutions of Metropolitan Boston – upon which institutions the regional economy rides piggyback – cannot help but admire the beneficence, wisdom, and benefit of philanthropy: the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; the Connors Family Learning Center and the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy at Boston College; the Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care and the Wang Building at Mass General; The Rosenberg Building at Beth Israel Hospital; the Salvation Army Kroc Center on Dudley St.; the Harry V. Keefe Library and the Clough Center for Global Understanding at Boston Latin School; the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard; the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; museums, endowed scholarship funds, hundreds of endowed chairs, stained glass windows, etc. (Continue reading)
DSGE is – to many economists – the standard model and method of macroeconomic analysis. See our treatment of the textbooks’ IS-LM, AD-AS and Phillips Curve Models.
The acronym stands for Dynamic (an external force causes a change to constant velocity, i.e. an acceleration, which may be negative or positive), Stochastic (random, not according to system, probabilistic, unexplained) General (pertaining to the entire economic process), Equilibrium (essentially Walrasian static equilibrium).
Leon Walras developed the conception of the markets as exchange equilibria. Concentrate all markets into a single hall. Place entrepreneurs behind a central counter. Let all agents of supply offer their services, and the same individuals, as purchasers, state their demands. Then the function of the entrepreneur is to find the equilibrium between these demands and potential supply. … The conception is exact, but it is not complete. It follows from the idea of exchange, but it does not take into account the phases of the productive rhythms. … [CWL 21, 51-52] (Continue reading)
N. Gregory Mankiw wrote an article for the Sunday New York Times, 8/11/19, entitled Ties That Bind Inflation and Unemployment. His final paragraph states:
The Fed’s job is to balance the competing risks of rising unemployment and rising inflation. Striking just the right balance is never easy. The first step, however is to recognize that the Phillips curve is always out there lurking.
We have emphasized that the Fed’s responsibilities are a.) to be admonitory and supervisory to the banking system, and b.) to supply the economy with the quantity of money needed for orderly execution of the magnitudes and frequencies of operative payments. And it is the responsibility of the enlightened private and government sectors – not the Fed, because it does not possess sufficiently effective tools – to manage production, employment, and philanthropy properly. By so doing, enterprise and government can effect production, pricing, interest rates, and dividend rates consistent with the opportunities and risks in the system; and they can achieve the full productivity made possible by the invention, gumption, and hard work of free people, yet properly constrained by the state of technology, culture, and resources. Contrary to what Mankiw seems to be approving in his conclusion, it is wrong to assign responsibility to the Fed for adjusting inflation and unemployment in the economic process by artificially manipulating the interest rate. And, despite all the hype about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of manipulating the rental price of money (i.e. the interest rate), no one has yet developed the ability to separate the effect of self-healing from the positive or the negative, counterproductive effect of interest-rate manipulation. For further perspective, click here for critical treatment of the IS-LM, AD-AS, and Phillips Curve Models, including notes explaining stagflation and the need to transition from a single-circuit analysis to a double-circuit analysis; here, for Notes Regarding FRB Monetary Policy and a Theoretic of Credit; and here for Practical Precepts for Free People – Consumers, Entrepreneurs, Bankers, Investors. Also see Summary of the Argument (CWL 15, 5-6) and The Cycle of Basic Income (CWL 15, 133-44).
In his book, FREEFALL (2009, Penguin Books), Joseph Eugene Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University and a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979), states that economics is a predictive science. Now, one must distinguish between predicting a) planetary motion in its scheme of recurrence, and b) this afternoon’s weather vs. next month’s weather, or this afternoon’s prices and quantities vs. next year’s prices and quantities, all subject to to conditions diverging in space and time. Continue reading)