March 2012

From 1000AD to 1970 the History of World Trade is Based on Fact, After 1970, Fiction?

Having just started Findlay and O'Rourke's mammoth history of world trade in the second millenia, I have been struck by a strange incongruity. From before year 1000 and onwards the introduction is all about data, politics and the co-mingling of influences. Then you get to the 1970s and the data seems to be replaced with two very generic statements, and fiction on the effect of recent trade reforms (p. xxv). Read more

UK Budget Appeals to Adam Smith's Approach to Taxes... Sort of

Yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer (or UK 'finance minister') gave his annual budget speech where UK fiscal policy is set for the coming years. In announcing his tax changes he name-dropped Adam Smith as the inspiration for his objectives on tax:

Two hundred years ago, Adam Smith set out the four principles of good taxation - and they remain good principles today. Taxes should be simple, predictable, support work, and they should be fair. The rich should pay the most, and the poor least.  George Osbourne, 21 March 2011

The Dynamics of the Chicago / MIT Dispute (in the Archives)

In his notorious "How Did Economists Get It So Wrong" NYT article in 2009, Paul Krugman relied on the freshwater/saltwater distinction to explain that the economists' inability to predict and solve the current economics crisis was due to the fact that MIT/Harvard economics lost their long dispute against their Chicagoan counterparts. Read more