January 30, 2019

Economics as storytelling and entertainment for the masses

Comment on John T. Harvey on ‘Does Modern Monetary Theory Have Any Scholarly Validity?’


Clint Ballinger advertises his latest project: “I am trying to make a non-technical book that the public and students will actually read, and a book that actually that gets all the operational basics right.”

As Simon Wren-Lewis once observed: “Narratives are a way people can try to understand things they know little about, and most people know little about economics or politics.”

This is an accurate observation. Where knowledge is lacking a story fills the void. The media have always been in the business of storytelling. This goes from the so-called Holy Books to Rome’s Circus Maximus to Hollywood to Paul Krugman’s NYT blather to economics supply-demand-equilibrium textbooks.#1

Economics is storytelling since the founding fathers. Adam Smith was NOT a scientist but a storyteller: “… he had no such ambitions; in fact, he disliked whatever went beyond plain common sense. He never moved above the heads of even the dullest readers. He led them on gently, encouraging them by trivialities and homely observations, making them feel comfortable all along.” (Schumpeter)

All appearances to the contrary, economics is NOT a science but political agenda pushing. The format of popular propaganda is, of course, NOT the abstract theory but a concrete narrative. For a narrative, there is NO need to satisfy the scientific criteria of material and formal consistency. Basically, a narrative emotionally re-enacts a deep-seated archetype. The three great economic narratives are the story of the Schlauraffen Land of Plenty and Freedom, the story of the Alchemist who transmutes dirt into gold, and the story of the struggle of Capitalists vs Workers.

Economics is a failed/fake science. All attempts to make economics a science remained on the surface. The major approaches — Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism, MMT — are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent, and all got profit ― the pivotal concept of the subject matter ― wrong. With the pluralism of provably false theories, economists have not achieved anything of scientific value but produced a lot of talk-show stuff.

So, they blather on and on. To this day, economists are storytellers.#2-#11 Clint Ballinger’s 1000 CASTAWAYS: Fundamentals of Economics is the latest example of populism, i.e. of low life political agenda pushing. Clint Ballinger is just one of the many economists who explain things in non-technical terms that they themselves do not understand in scientific terms.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Economics and encephalomalacia
#2 Economics: ‘a tale told by an idiot ... signifying nothing’
#3 Storytelling vs Theory = Politics vs Science
#4 The economist as storyteller
#5 Narrative economics and the imperatives of the sitcom
#6 Economics: stories, narratives, and disinformation
#7 Media-fake-farce-fraud-storytelling-macro
#8 How to save the economy from storytelling economists
#9 The end of storytelling
#10 Politics, storytelling, and science
#11 Economics — from storytelling to science

Related 'Economists cannot do the simple math of profit — better keep them out of politics' and 'New Economic Thinking, or, let’s put lipstick on the dead pig' and 'Does Asad Zaman fly with POL or SCI Airlines?' and 'The long genealogical tree of economic storytelling' and 'A political stench is in the air' and 'Macroeconomics: Drain the scientific swamp' and 'Profit Theory in less than 5 minutes' and 'Scientists and science actors' and 'The economist as second-guesser, mind reader, and folk psychologist' and 'Employment theory as an example of proto-scientific soapbubbling' and 'Economics: communication without content' and 'Ricardo and the invention of class war' and 'The Law of Economists’ Increasing Stupidity' and 'Wrapping up the MMT narrative' and 'MMT and the overall political corruption of economics' and 'MMT: How the Oligarchy communicates with WeThePeople' and 'MMTers are NOT Friends-of-the-People' and 'The Kelton-Fraud' and 'Krugman and the scientific implosion of economics' and 'End of a storyteller' and 'Storytelling and facts' and 'Around the world: storytelling vs. science' and 'The consistent ancients and the confused moderns' and 'The intelligent layperson's guide through vacuonomics' and 'Low-IQ economics: the beginner’s guide' and 'Entertainment vs. Science' and 'The economist as stand-up comedian' and '10 steps to leave cargo cult economics behind for good' and 'Economics textbooks ― tombstones at the Flat-Earth-Cemetery' and 'Mad but true: 200+ years after Adam Smith economists still have no idea what profit is' and 'Circus Maximus: Economics as entertainment, personality gossip, virtue signaling, and lifestyle promotion'. For details of the big picture see cross-references Political Economics/Stupidity/Corruption.