Category Archives: ECONNED

The Fed’s Exit Problem: Symptom of Paradigm Breakdown?

Yves here. This Real News Network interview with Yilmaz Akyüz, chief economist at the South Centre and former director and chief economist at UNCTAD, focuses on the conundrum of the Fed’s need to exit from QE from an international perspective, and layers in the further complication that China is not going to keep up its investment spending at the same level. Akyüz argues that “….we have problems at the end of the crisis which are as big as the ones during the crisis, and these problems are largely due to mismanagement of the crisis, particularly in the U.S. and Europe.”

But I’m not sure it’s as simple as mismanagement.


Who Should Young People Throw Under the Bus: Granny or Billionaire Hedgie Stan Druckenmiller?

Without attempting to wade too deeply into the goo of Friedman’s latest column, let’s limit ourselves to the the fact that Friedman is running PR for former Soros Fund Management lead investor Stan Druckenmiller. The column also serves to illustrate how Serious People like Friedman were ready to jump on the deficit cutting bandwagon once the shutdown/debt ceiling drama was put to rest for a bit.

Druckemiller’s latest cause is to foment generational warfare.


Former Representative Brad Miller: Naked Capitalism – My Hot Sheet on Finance

Matt Taibbi described in “How Wall Street Killed Financial Reform” the many ways “the banks strangled the Dodd-Frank law,” including the effort by House Republicans after the 2010 election to “pass a gazillion loopholes.”

“You might wonder,” Taibbi wrote, “how a bunch of lunkhead Republican Congressmen would even know how to write a coordinated series of ‘technical fixes’ to derivatives legislation, a universe so complicated that it has become hard to find anyone on the Hill who truly understands the subject. (One Congressman who sits on the Financial Services Committee laughingly admitted that when the crash of 2008 happened, he had to look up ‘credit default swaps’ on Wikipedia.)”

Yeah, that was me.


What the Orgy of “Lehman Five Years On” Stories Missed

One of the reasons I haven’t weighed in with the obligatory Lehman five year anniversary piece is that so many of them are variations on a limited range of themes. So it may be more instructive to discuss the stories that it would have been nice to see instead.


Economics Debunked: Chapter Two for Sixth Graders

Readers gave high marks to Andrew Dittmer’s summary of a dense but very important paper by Claudio Borio and Piti Disyatat of the BIS and asked if he could produce more of the same.

While Andrew, a recent PhD in mathematics, has assigned himself some truly unpleasant tasks, like reading every bank lobbying document he could get his hands on to see what their defenses of their privileged role amounted to, he has yet to produce any output from these endeavors that are ready for public consumption.

However, I thought readers might enjoy one of Andrew’s older works.


The Very Important and of Course Blacklisted BIS Paper About the Crisis

Admittedly, my RSS reader is hardly a definitive check, but it does cover a pretty large number of financial and economics websites, including those of academics. And from what I can tell, an extremely important paper by Claudio Borio and Piti Disyatat of the BIS, “Global imbalances and the financial crisis: Link or no link?” has been relegated to the netherworld. The Economist’s blog (not the magazine) mentioned it in passing, and a VoxEU post on the article then led the WSJ economics blog to take notice. But from the major economics publications and blogs, silence.

Why would that be? One might surmise that this is a case of censorship.


“Freedom Versus Markets”

Yves here. Blogger Sell on News echoes an argument made in ECONNED, namely, that “free markets” are a contradictory and incoherent construct, albeit from a different perspective. He also advocates another view near and dear to our heart, namely getting rid of economists (actually, that is overkill and will never happen. Keynes had it right: “If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.”)

By Sell on News, a macro equities analyst . Cross posted from MacroBusiness

Probably the most wicked intellectual subterfuge of the last three decades — and goodness knows there have been many — has been the pretence that democracy and markets are two sides of the same coin.


Philip Pilkington: Neoclassical Dogma – : How Economists Rationalise Their Hatred of Free Choice

By Philip Pilkington, a journalist and writer living in Dublin, Ireland

What if all the world’s inside of your head
Just creations of your own?
Your devils and your gods
All the living and the dead
And you’re really all alone?
You can live in this illusion
You can choose to believe
You keep looking but you can’t find the woods
While you’re hiding in the trees
– Nine Inch Nails, Right Where it Belongs

Modern economics purports to be scientific. It is this that lends its practitioners ears all over the world; from the media, from policymakers and from the general public. Yet, at its very heart we find concepts that, having been carried over almost directly from the Christian tradition, are inherently theological. And these concepts have, in a sense, become congealed into an unquestionable dogma.

We’ve all heard it before of course: isn’t neoclassical economics a religion of sorts? I’ve argued here in the past that neoclassical economics is indeed a sort of moral system. But what if there are theological motifs right at the heart of contemporary economic theory? What does this say about its validity and what might this mean in relation to the social status of its practitioners?

Let us turn first to one of the most unusual and oft-cited pieces of contemporary economic doctrine: rational expectations theory.


Felix Salmon Misreads AAA Bond Demand to Say “Overcaution” Caused Crisis

Lordie, I can’t believe someone who professes to understand markets has written, at length, that caution, no, “excess of overcaution,” was a major contributor to the criss. Or has Felix Salmon been spending too much time with lobbyists from ISDA and SIFMA?

I hate seeming rude, but Felix has a habit of tearing into Gretchen Morgenson for errors much less significant than the one he made in a post today. He wrote, apropos this chart, which comes from FT Alphaville:


The Sorrow and the Pity of Economists (Like DeLong) Not Learning from Their Mistakes

I hate to seem to be beating up on Brad DeLong. Seriously.

As I’ve said before, he is one of the few economists willing to admit error and not try later to minimize or recant his admission (unlike, say, Greenspan). And he seems genuinely perplexed and remorseful. This puts his heads and shoulders above a lot of his colleagues, at least the sort whose opinion carries weight in policy circles.

Even with DeLong making an earnest effort to figure out why he went wrong, his latest musings, via a Bloomberg op-ed, “Sorrow and Pity of Another Liquidity Trap,” show how hard it is for economist to unlearn what they think they know. And as the great philosopher Will Rogers warned us, “It’s not what you know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know that ain’t so.”

So it’s important to regard DeLong as an unusually candid mainstream economist, and treat his exposition as reasonably representative if you could somehow get his peers to take a hard, jaundiced look at how wrong they have been of late.

DeLong’s mea culpa is about how he and his colleagues refused to take the idea that the US could fall into a liquidity trap seriously. As an aside, this is already a troubling admission, since many observers, including yours truly, though the Fed was in danger of creating precisely that sort of problem if if dropped the Fed funds rate below 2%. It would leave itself no wriggle room if the crisis continued and it had to lower rates further into the territory where further reductions would not motivate changes in behavior. That’s assuming we were in a “normal” environment. But the big abnormality is that we are in what Richard Koo calls a balance sheet recession. And as we will discuss below, Keynes (and Minsky) had a very keen appreciation of the resulting behavior changes, but those ideas were abandoned by Keynesians (it is key to remember that Keynesianism contains significant distortions and omissions from Keynes’ thinking.

But notice how he starts his piece: