We note that several instructors in Lonergan’s Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics give conceptual priority to his Diagram of Rates of Flow in their essays. Continue reading →

Thus, if we want to have a comprehensive grasp of everything in a unified whole, we shall have to construct a diagram in which are symbolically represented all the various elements along with all the connections between them. [McShane 2014, 11 (quoting CWL 7, 151)]

We wish here to suggest the insights the reader should have to fully appreciate all that is contained in the Diagram of Rates of Flow. (Continue reading).

We are commenting with respect to Andrew Lilley and Kenneth Rogoff’s “conference draft” discussing the advisability of a FRB policy of negative interest rates:

Lilley, Andrew and Kenneth Rogoff, April 24, 2019: “The Case for Implementing Effective Negative Interest Rate Policy” (Conference draft for presentation at Strategies For Monetary Policy: A Policy Conference, the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, May 4, 2019, 9:15 am PST) [Lilley and Rogoff, 2019] (Continue reading)

Special Relativity and Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics are field theories. (Click here and here and here) We wish to gain further appreciation of FMD as a field theory by juxtaposing it with Special Relativity.

… Special Relativity is primarily a field theory, that is, it is concerned not with efficient, instrumental, material, or final causes of events, but with the intelligibility immanent in data; but Newtonian dynamics seems primarily a theory of efficient causes, of forces, their action, and the reaction evoked by action. … Special Relativity is stated as a methodological doctrine that regards the mathematical expression of physical principles and laws, but Newtonian dynamics is stated as a doctrine about the objects subject to laws. [3, 43/67] (Continue reading)

To help the reader gain an appreciation of Lonergan’s achievement of Modern Macroeconomic Field Theory we will, in each section, print leading excerpts, then highlight the key concepts of those excerpts. We will comment on the historically-significant advances in geometry of Euclid and Hilbert, in physics of Newton andEinstein, and in macroeconomics of Lonergan.

Euclid’s great achievement was his rigorous deduction of geometry.

Hilbert’s great achievement was his employment of implicit definition to reorder Euclid’s geometry.

Newton’s two great achievements were unifying the isolated insights of Galileo and Kepler into a unified system of mechanics and his invention of the calculus.

One of the great achievements of Einstein was the invention of the field theories of Special Relativity, General Relativity, and Gravitation.

One of Lonergan’s several great achievements was his systematization of macroeconomic phenomena in his Modern Macroeconomic Field Theory. He combined the technique of implicit definition introduced by Hilbert and the concept of a field theory developed by Faraday and Einstein; and he developed an explanatory macroeconomics, which is general, invariant, and relevant in any instance. (Continue reading)

.I. Introduction: Contrasting Diagrams and What They Represent

We contrast an assumption and description with an explanation and interpretation. We contrast the Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) assumptionand description of pricing as exogenously given and acceptable as a lead item in analysis of economic problems with Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics’ (FMD’s) explanation and interpretation of pricing in the light of the significant functional pretio-quantital flows, which explain the dynamic economic process. (Continue reading)

Our aim is to prescind from human psychology 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]

Taking into account past and (expected) future values does not constitute the creative key transition to dynamics.Those familiar with elementary statics and dynamics will appreciate the shift in thinking involved in passing from equilibrium analysis…to an analysis where attention is focused on second-order differential equations, on d^{2}θ/dt^{2}, d^{2}x/dt^{2}, d^{2}y/dt^{2}, on a range of related forces, central, friction, whatever….. What is significant is the Leibnitz-Newtonian shift of context. [McShane 1980, 127]

A distinction has been drawn between description and explanation. Description deals with things as related to us. Explanation deals with the same things as related among themselves. … description supplies, as it were, the tweezers by which we hold things while explanations are being discovered or verified, applied or revised. … [CWL 3, 291/316]

again, as to the notion of cause, Newton conceived of his forces as efficient causes, and the modern mechanics drops the notion of force; it gets along perfectly well without it. It thinks in terms of a field theory, the set of relationships between nobjects. The field theory is a set of intelligible relations linking what is implicitly defined by the relations themselves; it is a set of relational forms. The form of any element is known through its relations to all other elements. What is a mass? A mass is anything that satisfies the fundamental equations that regard masses. Consequently, when you add a new fundamental equation about mass, as Einstein did when he equated mass with energy, you get a new idea of mass. Field theory is a matter of the immanent intelligibility ofthe object. [CWL 10, 154]

Scientific macroeconomics, if it is to be genuinely scientific, must not be contaminated by human psychology. Gustav Kirchhoff’s laws of the electric circuit do not incorporate the psychology of the human who operates the levers or switches. So, Lonergan, the scientist, strove to discover the purely relational, purely functionallaws of the circuits of the objective economic process. Unfortunately, many proponents of Modern Monetary Theory exhibit sentiments and inclinations favoring a totalitarian bureaucracy for the management of fiscal and monetary affairs. Their purported science contains some valid assertions, but is not a coherent set of objective laws to which participants must adapt, regardless of sentiment; rather MMT is an admixture of several ideological and psychopolitical sentiments transformed into a contaminated set of mandates for the management of fiscal and monetary affairs. The tenets of MMT fail to constitute a fully explanatory theory of macroeconomic dynamics. (to continue reading, click here)

The heart of the normative theoretical framework that can actually explain business and trade cycles is what (Lonergan) calls the ‘Pure Cycle’ (§10, §24, 114). This cycle generalizes into clearly articulated relationships the ideal phases characteristic of major economic transformations as they depart from a stationary phase and move through phases first of surplus expansion and then of basic expansion, only to return to a new stationary phase. … (CWL 15, Editors’ Introduction, lxiii) (Continue reading)