August 18, 2018

“I never learned maths, so I had to think” ― another false-hero memorial

Comment on Lars Syll on “I never learned maths, so I had to think”*


The Economist summarizes a tribute to Nick Rowe: “Professors may find themselves ill-prepared for the macro classroom. To become academics they had to answer erudite questions posed by more senior members of the discipline. To become good teachers of introductory macro, they have to give clear answers to muddled students. That requires an intuitive feel for the subject. It is not enough to crank through the equations.

Indeed, Mr. Rowe attributes part of his success as a teacher to his shortcomings as a mathematician. He quotes Joan Robinson, another clear expositor of macroeconomics: “I never learned maths, so I had to think.” Because the answers did not leap out at him from the equations, he had to dwell on the economic behavior underneath the algebra.

Macroeconomics is difficult to teach partly because its theorists (classical, Keynesian, monetarist, New Classical, and New Keynesian, among others) disagree about so much. It is difficult also because the textbooks disagree about so little. To reach the widest possible audience, most cover similar material: a miscellany of models that are not always consistent with each other or even with themselves. The result is that many professors must teach things they do not believe in.

Professors can also sometimes forget that macroeconomics is full of faux amis: words that mean something different in everyday speech. ‘Saving’ is an example. In ordinary life, it means the opposite of spending. In macroeconomics, it means the opposite of consumption (or, more precisely, not buying new consumer goods with income earned from production). In macro, someone who spends a fortune on a house is saving even if they have emptied their bank account to do so. The term can be so confusing that Mr. Rowe thinks it should be banished from the discipline.

More difficulties, Mr. Rowe suggests, follow from the fact that macroeconomics is a bit ‘weird’.”

Macroeconomics is NOT weird but provably false. The foundational concepts profit/ income/saving are inconsistently defined and because of this, the whole analytical superstructure is false: Macroeconomics ― dead since Keynes

Nick Rowe, though, did NOT get it and this has NOTHING to do with math:
Is Nick Rowe stupid or corrupt or both?
I is never equal S and even Nick Rowe will eventually grasp it
Cryptoeconomics ― the best of Nick Rowe’s spam folder

It is a remarkable fact that economics teachers never understood how the economy works and that generation after generation of Econ 101 students have swallowed their micro- and macro-garbage without turning an eyelid.#1 The whole idea of a ‘thinking economist’ is laughable, to begin with. The history of orthodox and heterodox economic thought is a gallery of False-Hero Memorials.#2

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

* The Economist Why is macroeconomics so hard to teach? Lessons from a master of the craft

#1 The father of modern economics and his imbecile kids
#2 For details of the big picture see cross-references Failed/Fake Scientists


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