Category Archives: Fred Lawrence

Table of Contents of Editors’ Introduction in CWL 15

To indicate the editors’ helpfulness in placing Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics in its historical and theoretical contexts, we list below the headings of the EditorsIntroduction to Lonergan’s Macroeconomic Dynamics: An Essay in Circulation Analysis (CWL 15).  It is ironic that philosophers and theologians, with acknowledged help from polymath Philip McShane and economist Peter Burley, seem to have come to understand the key intelligibilities of macroeconomic dynamics better than professors of macroeconomics themselves. We encourage  all in the community of economists – graduate students, professors, investment analysts, corporate and government economists – to read the Introduction.

Editors’ Introduction, Frederick G. Lawrence ; xxv

  1. Lonergan’s Entry into Economics, 1930-1944 / xxvi
  2. Democratic Economics: An alternative to Liberalism and Socialism / xxxii
    1. Liberalism and Socialism as Economistic Ideologies / xxxv
    2. Free Enterprise as an Educational Project
  3. Lonergan’s Reentry into Economics, 1978-1983 / xxxix
  4. Lonergan’s Interlocutors in Economics / xliii
    1. Lonergan and Marx / xlvi
    2. Lonergan and Marshall / xlvii
    3. Lonergan and Keynes / xlviii
    4. Lonergan, Kalecki, and Others / li
    5. Lonergan and Schumpeter / li
  5. Macroeconomic Dynamic Analysis as a New Paradigm of Economic Theory / liv
  6. The Systematic Significance of the Fundamental distinction between Basic and Surplus Production and Exchange: A Normative Theory of the Pure Cycle
    1. Profit / lxiii
    2. Interest / lxvii
    3. Lonergan’s Critique of ‘Supply-Side’ and ‘Demand-Side’ Economics / lxvii
  7. Lonergan’s Critique of Secularist Ideologies: The Need for a Theological Viewpoint / lxix

Lonergan was a polymath.  He was expert at systematizing fields in which others could not discover an order. As the Editors’ Introduction states, his work in macroeconomics is of systematic significance.

In brief Lonergan is looking for an explanation in which the terms are defined by the relations in which they stand, that is, by a process of implicit definition. … No doubt Keynes was an economist first and a methodologist second … Lonergan, for his part, is perhaps a methodologist first and an economist second, but he was able to push his economic reflections further than Keynes because he had a firmer grasp of the essentials of an effective theory.  … Lonergan’s critique (shows that) … the emphasis shifts … to searching heuristically for the maximum extent of (functional) interconnections and interdependence; and that the variables (of the mechanism) discovered in this way might not resemble very much the objects (or the aggregates) (such as coincidental prices) which, in the first instance, (the non-methodologist) was thinking about.   [Gibbons 1987]

… A science emerges when thinking in a given field moves to the level of system. Prior to Euclid there were many geometrical theorems that had been established.  The most notable example is Pythagoras’ theorem on the hypotenuse of the right-angled triangle, which occurs at the end of  Book 1 of Euclid’s elements.  Euclid’s achievement was to bring together all these scattered theorems by setting up a unitary basis that would handle all of them and a great number of others as well. … similarly, mechanics became a system with Newton.  Prior to Newton, Galileo’s law of the free fall and Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion were known.  But these were isolated laws.  Galileo’s prescription was that the system was to be a geometry; so there was something functioning as a systemBut the system really emerged with Newton.  This is what gave Newton his tremendous influence upon the enlightenment. He laid down a set of basic, definitions, and axioms, and proceeded to demonstrate and conclude from general principles and laws that had been established empirically by his predecessors.  Mechanics became a science in the full sense at that point where it became an organized system. … again, a great deal of chemistry was known prior to Mendeleev.  But his discovery of the periodic table selected a set of basic chemical elements and selected them in such a way that further additions could be made to the basic elements.  Since that time chemistry has been one single organized subject with a basic set of elements accounting for incredibly vast numbers of compounds.  In other words, there is a point in the history of any science when it comes of age, when it has a determinate systematic structure to which corresponds a determinate field. [CWL10, 241-42]

Readers may find it helpful to peruse the image below, What Lonergan Brought to Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics.

Modern Monetary Theory Is Backward; It Creates “Illegal” Superposed Circuits

Preliminary note: In this section we are addressing the proper understanding and management of the economic process in normal, non-pandemic times.  We affirm that the recent pandemic called for extraordinary measures.

xxxxxxx

Unwittingly, first out of ignorance, more recently as necessitated by a pandemic, and most recently out of continuing ignorance, some nations, including the U.S., have wandered into the ultimate menace to the financial system, the spending without constraint blessed and recommended by unscientific. so-called Modern Monetary Theory. (Click here and here) The systematic result of MMT’s unconstrained printing of money, unjustified by corresponding, concomitant production of goods and services, is rampant inflation in prices for a) goods and services and/or b) financial assets.  (Continue reading)

The Labor Theory of Value Debunked

Macroeconomists must grasp the difference between economic value and exchange value.

the exchange solution is a dynamic equilibrium resting on the equilibria of markets. … every product of the exchange economy must mate through exchange with some other product, and the ratio in which the two mate is the exchange value.  The generality of this equilibrium makes it indifferent to endless complexity and endless change; for it stands on a level above all particular products and all particular modes of production.  (CWL 21, 34-35)

…  Adam Smith and all the proponents of the “labor” theory of value were never able to clarify the relationship between exchange value and “toil and trouble” as the measure of value.  Lonergan shifted the issue entirely by explaining that an “economic value relates an object to human effort, but an exchange value relates objects among themselves.”31 (CWL 21, 31) [Fred Lawrence; “Money, Institutions, and The Human Good,” in Liddy, 2010, 183-84]

… , like Smith, Locke, Ricardo, and Marx later on, Aristotle did not seem to understand money in terms of exchange value, and therefore as relating objects among themselves in relation to the concomitance or lack of concomitance between “the real flow of property, goods, and services and the dummy flow being given and taken in exchange for the real flow.”39 CWL 21, 40 Still less did they grasp that in an advanced industrial society, the real flow and the money flow are channeled within two separate circuits of production and circulation functionally distinguished into producer goods and consumer goods, and operating in real time in accord with distinct phases of expansion.  Besides misunderstanding money of account, they misunderstood the relationship of money to time. [Fred Lawrence; “Money, Institutions, and The Human Good,” in Liddy, 2010, 186] Continue reading

Jamie Dimon’s Challenges to Himself and to the Nation

4/7/2021:  Yahoo Finance today featured an article by Julia La Roche entitled ‘The fault line is inequality’: J.P. Morgan’s Dimon calls for fixing America’s ‘self-inflicted’ problems.  La Roche was reviewing the Public Policy section of Dimon’s 67-page Chairman and CEO Letter to Shareholders.  Mr. Dimon seeks to end the nation’s self-infliction of problems threatening the culture, the economy and the polity.  He particularly regrets “false arguments of fanatics, the certitude of ideologues and cycles of intolerance.” Continue reading

An Outline of General Values and Money’s Values

In the first section .I., we’ll list a) a ranking or scale of preferences of meanings and values within the ecology in which humans live, b) money’s values from different points of view, and c) an ordered hierarchy of economic activity. In the second section .II., we’ll add detail to that scale of preferences and situate money’s values and the ordered hierarchy within the scale.  Finally .III., we’ll display excerpts to point readers to original sources.   One might find this outline useful when reading A Must-Read: Fred Lawrence, “Money, Institutions, And The Human Good”: An Ordered Perspective Distinguishing Social and Monetary Values. Lawrence points out that Lonergan properly clarifies the concept of exchange value in a free exchange process so as to destroy with a single stroke the mistaken concepts of Adam Smith, John Locke, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx.

Not only do feelings respond to value. They do so in accord with some scale of preference.  So we may distinguish vital, social, cultural, personal, and religious values in an ascending order. (CWL 14, 31-2/32-3)   (Continue reading)

A Must-Read: Fred Lawrence, “Money, Institutions, And The Human Good”: An Ordered Perspective Distinguishing Social and Monetary Values

For an ordered perspective on the role of culture in the ecology consisting of the schemes of recurrence of a) technology, b) production and exchange, and c) politics, one should read Fred Lawrence’s article, “Money, Institutions, and the Human Good.” Continue reading