April 29, 2019

Econ 101: Supply-Demand-Equilibrium is dead for 150+ years

Comment on Dirk Ehnts on ‘The problem with the supply curve’

Blog-Reference and Blog-Reference

Dirk Ehnts reports: “Steve Keen uses a 1952 paper to make a very important point about neoclassical economics: There is a problem with the supply curve.” and concludes: “Microeconomics, the behavior of firms and households, is very important. Starting the subject by repeating theories that should have long been discarded blocks more relevant approaches from being taught. These new approaches could provide proper foundations of the behavior of firms and households if they are not based on ‘economic laws’ that are refuted by reality.”

All this is true, of course, but ultimately not very helpful: “The moral of the story is simply this: it takes a new theory, and not just the destructive exposure of assumptions or the collection of new facts, to beat an old theory.” (Blaug)

Because traditional Heterodoxy consistently failed at this methodological barrier economics students are still taught the ‘Totem of the Micro’, i.e. supply-demand-equilibrium.#1

The lethal blunder of microeconomics, though, does not start with the supply curve but with the neo-Walrasian axiom set: “HC1 There exist economic agents. HC2 Agents have preferences over outcomes. HC3 Agents independently optimize subject to constraints. HC4 Choices are made in interrelated markets. HC5 Agents have full relevant knowledge. HC6 Observable economic outcomes are coordinated, so they must be discussed with reference to equilibrium states.” (Weintraub, 1985)

The pivotal propositions are HC3 and HC6. Methodologically, they are NONENTITIES like the Easter Bunny and Spiderman. The behavioral axiom HC3 makes economics marginalistic.#2, #3 In order to make constrained optimization work, a well-behaved production function is required. The production function is NOT the result of real-world observations but implicated by HC3.#4, #5, #6 The supply curve, in turn, follows from the assumed production function. So HC3 is the ultimate reason why there “is a problem with the supply curve”.

From this follows that the microfoundations HC1/HC6 have to be discarded. And this is the end of Econ 101 as we know it. Economics textbooks are worthless since Samuelson’s firstling of 1948.#7

The end of proto-scientific economics, though, is the beginning of scientific economics which is no longer based on false microfoundations but on true macrofoundations.#8, #9, #10

From the devastating critique of supply-demand-equilibrium follows the necessity of a Paradigm Shift. Traditional Heterodoxy never performed the Paradigm Shift but was content with the endless repetition of how “unrealistic” Orthodoxy is.

Because of this, both Orthodoxy and traditional Heterodoxy go down the scientific drain.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke


#1 Where advanced Heterodoxy — represented by Steve Keen — took the wrong turn
#2 The solemn burial of marginalism
#3 Marginalism is the landmark of scientific incompetence
#4 Putting the production function back on its feet
#5 Infantile model bricolage, or, How many economists can dance on a non-existing pinpoint?
#6 Mathiness and the Ur-Blunder
#7 The father of modern economics and his imbecile kids
#8 Essentials of Constructive Heterodoxy: The Market
#9 How to Get Rid of Supply-Demand-Equilibrium
#10 The Law of Supply and Demand: Here It Is Finally

Related 'There is NO such thing as supply-demand-equilibrium' and 'How the Intelligent Non-Economist Can Refute Every Economist Hands Down' and 'Why you should NEVER use supply-demand-equilibrium' and 'The monstrous utility-supply-demand-equilibrium failure'. For details of the big picture see cross-references Econ 101/Old Curriculum/New Curriculum and cross-references Paradigm Shift and the textbook Sovereign Economics. The macroeconomic Law of Supply and Demand is shown on Wikimedia AXEC64


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Wikimedia AXEC121i