Benjamin Mitra-Kahn

Government economist by day, blogger by night, child-like curiosity of the world - always

Games he likes to play: How to define and measure the economy, innovation, national accounting, intellectual property, development economics and of course the history of economics.

Favourite Toy: Archives and data

Bed-time story: Robert Heilbrohner's The Worldly Philosophers and Keith Tribe's Land, Labour and Economic Discourse

Imaginary Friends: John Maynard Keynes, Daniel Defoe, Charles Davenant, Edward Misselden, Vincent de Gournay, Arthur Young and Simon Kuznets.

If found, please return to London or www.mitrakahn.com where all his papers and vaccinations can be found.

 

 

My Content

There is a new economics rock-star touring the US by all accounts, and his name is Thomas Piketty. More precisely, the star of the show is Picketty's Capital in the Twenty-First century which is a 700-page volume on wealth distribution in 30 countries over decades and centuries of data.
The INET conference in Hong Kong is serious business. Students will be wearing suits for the first time since their cousin's wedding only to bump into senior public servants with buffed cuff-links who in turn are mingling with billionaires and Nobel Prize winners. It's seriously adult stuff. It's just a shame that I will probably be too giddy to notice. In fairness I will try not to gush at people; like I may have done with Axel Leijonhufvud last year, or Richard Koo, or Robert Skidelsky, or... well... that's not really the point.
I  thought I was on to an inside reference when re-reading the General Theory when Keynes calls Marx, Edgeworth and others simply by name, but refers to "Professor Pigou" in several instances.  What devilish bit of British humour was I missing out on, had Pigou slighted Keynes in some talk and therefore the emphasis on his position as professor as Keynes disagree with him?  
Mid August, with the Olympics over, Paralympics and Premiership starting (that's Soccer for the American readership), it is well and truly the quiet period for most of academia. But now is also the time for conference announcements (for the next season) and I just discovered that the History of Economics Society will have four sessions at the 2013 year's ASSA, featuring fellow bloggers Tiago and Yann. 
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: