Inclusive wealth and the history of GDP

The International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP) recently published the Inclusive Wealth Report 2012, in which the authors propose a measure of wealth based on the stock of capital present in a country, as opposed to the flow measure of GDP. It is an important step towards a more explicit recognition of the sustainability of the economy’s use of resources, and is so obviously analogous to the standard assets-based way of accounting and estimating wealth in the corporate sector that one wonders why on earth it took so long to appear on the scene. Read more

Interdisciplinarity and education @H2S workshop

A few weeks ago, I attended the H2S 4th workshop on "Cross disciplinary ventures in postwar American Social Sciences," (research program outline here Read more

The Visible Hand Writing History

[We are inaugurating something new in this blog: a jointly written post!]

  Let’s propose an exercise (simplistic in many dimensions). Read the following abstract of a paper and decide whether or not it looks publishable in either A) a top economics journal or B) a top history of economics journal? Read more

Economists Coming of Age

Last weekend, I was in Tübingen - very close to my home town: the same smell, the same surreal Swabian idyll that makes you think of Hölderlin and Hesse rather than DSGE. Students from the German Studienstiftung (a public foundation sponsoring outstanding students), organized a workshop on “Rethinking Economics”. It took me back to my past, not only home, but also back to my first years as a student of economics. It is in these years that intellectual creativity is channeled, held back, and then needs events like this to be released again.

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Economics and computation in the postwar period: managing scarcity


“We choose this stochastic structure for computational reasons. This reduces the dimension of the variables. With (such and such) alternative, the computational burden would have dramatically increased.”

Economics at Chicago, 1939-1955: the scope of our ignorance

The University of Chicago is well-known for as the place where a famous group of economists, including Milton Friedman, Georges Stigler, Gary Becker, among others, developed a method for analyzing economic facts based on Marshallian price theory, a vision of the evolution of macroeconomic aggregates called monetarism, and an approach to individual liberties and the role of the state known as (neo)liberalism. In the recent years, historians of economics have researched more carefully the apparent consistency, the institutionalization and the reasons for the success of this community, highlithing the contested influence of neocon foundations and Read more

Division of labour was common knowledge by the 1770s

I always think of Adam Smith when I hear the term 'division of labour' - but I'm being cured of this by reading a bit more about Britains late 18th century in Jenny Uglow's The Lunar Men. A very good read on industrialists and doctors, it remarks on Matthew Boulton's (think steam engine / manufacturing) explanation to Lord Warwick (in 1773) that it is ithe seperation of processes which allow British manufacturers to compete with continental Europe. So Adam Smith's comments were not so much brilliant discovery, but rather explanation of well established fact: Read more

History of Economics Journals in SSCI - a correction

In a recent post I wrote: "I am sure it will not take long before Journal of the History of Economic Thought (Cambridge Uni. Press) makes that list [Thompson Reuters, Social Science Citation Index]." I was wrong, the journal has made the list. The error is compounded because History of Economic Ideas is also on SSCI. Read more

Between science and history

Last Friday, philosophers from the University of Leiden hosted the symposium ‘Between Science and History,’ in an attempt to figure out what the differences are between practicing scientists’ use of history and historians use of history. The organizers had conjured up the nice experiment of letting a scientist and a historian in one session give a talk on a famous historical figure – Einstein, Darwin, Christiaan Huygens. (Plus there were a few idiosyncratic talks, interesting in other respects, but let me leave those out here.) Read more