August 11, 2017

In search of new economists

Comment on Benjamin Friedman on ‘The Search for New Assumptions

Blog-Reference and Blog-Reference

Economics is a failed science. But economists were not only unable in the past 200+ years to figure out how the market economy works they are also unable to realize that the only thing that they can do for the progress of economics and the welfare of humanity is to retire.

The utter self-delusion of economists consists in the idea of New Economic Thinking. This is absurd. People who have proven their scientific incompetence by clinging to assumptions that were already dead in the cradle 150+ years ago and who cannot even get the elementary mathematics of accounting right lack the capacity of thinking altogether.#1 Joan Robinson called them the ‘throng of superfluous economists’. To suggest New Thinking to the representative economist is like suggesting pole-jumping to someone who cannot take two steps without falling over his own feet.

The fact is that the major approaches ― Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism ― are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent, and that ALL got the foundational economic concept of profit wrong.#2

The only thing that works fine in economics is the survival strategy. Confronted with an economic crisis and the obvious failure of standard economics, economists readily admit/justify everything and enthusiastically promise New Thinking.#3 New Thinking, though, consists only in a repacking of the old garbage.

As Krugman put it “most of what I and many others do is sorta-kinda neoclassical because it takes the maximization-and-equilibrium world as a starting point.” More specifically, the 150+ years old starting point consists of this set of hardcore propositions a.k.a. axioms: “HC1 economic agents have preferences over outcomes; HC2 agents individually optimize subject to constraints; HC3 agent choice is manifest in interrelated markets; HC4 agents have full relevant knowledge; HC5 observable outcomes are coordinated, and must be discussed with reference to equilibrium states.” (Weintraub)

It should be pretty obvious that the axiomatic core of Orthodoxy contains THREE NONENTITIES: (i) constrained optimization (HC2), (ii) rational expectations (HC4), (iii) equilibrium (HC5). Every theory/model that contains a nonentity is a priori false. The fact is that the dimwitted Krugmen have not realized this until this very day. The chances that they will understand anything better in the future are zero. The same holds for Keynesians, Marxians, Austrians, and Pluralists.

Benjamin Friedman sums up: “Without assumptions there is no theory, and without theory there is no analysis. Whether macroeconomists will be willing to find new assumptions on which to base their ideas, leaving behind the ones that straight-jacketed their thinking during the crisis, will largely determine whether the discipline will regain the usefulness it once seemed to have.”

Benjamin Friedman, too, is a proto-scientific wish-washer. Translated into proper methodological terms, this is the case: Without true axioms, there is no true theory and without true theory, economists have NOTHING WORTHWHILE to say: “In order to tell the politicians and practitioners something about causes and best means, the economist needs the true theory or else he has not much more to offer than educated common sense or his personal opinion.” (Stigum)

Scientific truth is for 2300+ years well-defined by material and formal consistency: “When the premises are certain, true, and primary, and the conclusion formally follows from them, this is demonstration, and produces scientific knowledge of a thing.” (Aristotle)

Economics does not need ‘new assumptions’ but a Paradigm Shift from false Walrasian microfoundations and false Keynesian macrofoundations to true macrofoundations. Nothing less will do.#4

Economics is a science without scientists. The present generation of ― orthodox and heterodox ― economists have disqualified themselves and cannot make a significant contribution to the discussion about how the actual economy works. Their chances of New Economic Thinking have been wasted long ago.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Fact of life: your econ prof is scientifically incompetent
#2 How the intelligent non-economist can refute every economist hands down
#3 Failed economics: The losers’ long list of lame excuses
#4 First Lecture in New Economic Thinking