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. The two are not totally independent, for they deal with the same things and, as we have seen, 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]
The analysis of the overall dynamic functioning, which we call in nominal terms the economic process, must seek the explanation of the process. It must seek the objective immanent intelligibility among the interdependent, dynamic “functionings” which altogether constitute the process. The functionings are rates of so much or so many every so often, and, thus, they are velocities. And the scientific analysis must be in terms of abstract, implicitly-defined, explanatory conjugates rather than in terms of the descriptive accountants’ unities of merely legal or proprietary entities called “firms.” (Continue reading)
In explaining the normative pure cycle of economic expansion for which the process has a systematic exigence, Lonergan redefined “costs” and “profits”,
There is a sense in which one may speak of the fraction of basic outlay that moves to basic income as the “costs” of basic production. It is true that that sense is not at all an accountant’s sense of costs; … But however remote from the accountant’s meaning of the term “costs,” it remains that there is an aggregate and functional sense in which the fraction… is an index of costs. For the greater the fraction that basic income is of total income, the less the remainder which constitutes the aggregate possibility of profit. But what limits profit may be termed costs. Hence we propose ….to speak of (c’O’ = p’a’Q’) and (c”O” = p”a”Q”) as costs of production, having warned the reader that the costs in question are aggregate andfunctional costs…. [CWL 15, 156-57]Continue reading →
We have recited some aspects of the dynamic economic process:
(Dummy) money “must be constant in exchange value.”
Prices alone do not explain the economic process. Pricesmust be interpreted in the light of those significant variables which actually explain the economic process.
The economic process of production and exchange always is the current, purely-dynamic process
The economic process is an organic whole
The process has an exigence for a normative pure cycle of expansion.
Equilibrium requires the keeping of pace and balance among interdependent flows of products and money
Scarcity is the normal cause of inflation
Maladjustment of incomes is the maladaptive cause of inflation
Just as the surplus phase of the expansion is anti-egalitarianin tendency, postulating an increasing rate of saving, … so the basic phase of the expansion is egalitarian in tendency; it postulates a continuously decreasingrate of saving [CWL 15, 139]
The central adjustment to the respective phases of the process may be formulated as adjustment of I”/(I’ + I”), the ratio of surplus income to total income
Interpreters of prices must distinguish between real and relative price increasesmonetary and absolute changes in prices We have recited some aspects of the dynamic economic process: (Continue reading)
A sound theory is a good thing to keep around. Clerk-Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory and Kirchoff’s lawsof electric circuits are good systematics to consult when one is designing a system to deliver electricity. Similarly, when one is seeking to understand, affirm, and manage the economic process, a reliable, scientific macroeconomics, which both explains how the process actually works and yields norms for adaptation by human participants, is a good thing to have around.
Common sense is different from science. Common sense describes; science explains. Common sense relates things to us; science relates things to one another. And scientificMacroeconomic Field Theory, also called Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics, is different from the mere commonsense compilation of descriptive accounting aggregates called Gross Domestic Product. Continue reading →
We hope to inspire serious graduate students of economics a) to seek and achieve an understanding of “Macroeconomic Field Theory,” b) to verifyempirically Lonergan’s field relations, and c) to use the explanatory field relations as the basis of influential scholarly papers.
We trace developments
in physics from Newtonian mechanics to modern field theory, and
in economics from Walrasian supply-demand economics to purely relational, Modern Macroeconomic Field Theory.
Key ideas include a) abstraction and implicit definition as the basis and ground of invariance in both physics and macroeconomics, b) the concept of a purely relational field, c) immanent intelligibility and formal causality, and d) the canons of parsimony and of complete explanation. We highlight some key ideas: (continue reading)
Presenters John Siegfried and David Colander, and discussants Daron Acemoglu, Melissa S. Kearney, John A List, N. Gregory Mankiw, Deirdre McCloskey, and Betsey Stevenson recently collaborated in a virtual ASSA meeting entitled “What Does Critical Thinking Mean in Economics, the Big and Little of It?” Handouts from the meeting can be found in an Announcement in a blog of Saturday, January 2, 2021 on N. Gregory Mankiw’swebsite.
Preliminarily, note the subtitle in Lonergan’s seminal work,Insight: A Study of Human Understanding. In the present context we might reword the subtitle A Study of Critical Thinking. A very smart person – learned in advanced mathematics and theoretical physics – called Lonergan’s book “The Most Significant Book of the Twentieth Century.”(Continue reading)
A systematic explanation, then, requires a normative theoretical framework. The basic terms and relations of such a framework would specify the distinctions and correlations that articulate the causes, which are not necessarily visible, of events that are apparent to all. (CWL 15, Editors’ Introduction, lv) (Continue reading)
We print three displays of the same Diagram of Rates of Flow, AKA the Diagram of Interdependent Velocities. The second and third displays simply suggest that the serious reader must keep in mind certain precepts as he/she seeks to achieve a new paradigm and a new framework for macroeconomic dynamics. Continue reading →