Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link.


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34 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. A Tale.
    JQ would I assume would pass, but his dissenting and additional ‘Lesson 2’ and TISATASFL scrawled over the paper, Friedman dropped his final grade from HD to P.

    Ernestine, Harry – anyone with economics degree care to comment please.
    *

    “Chicago. Price Theory (B). Final Exam Questions. Friedman, December 1959 – Economics in the Rear-View Mirror”

    Just thought JQ may like to play / riff on;

    “Chicago. Price Theory (B). Final Exam Questions. Friedman, December 1959”

    Into;
    “Brisbane. Price Theory (2nd Lesson).  Final Exam Questions. Quiggin, 21st C”

    And perhaps start a post or 3 entitled;
    – Economics Ahead
    Or
    – Economics through the Windscreen.

    I loved the hand drawn graphs. Doubt I’d pass.

    https://www.irwincollier.com/chicago-price-theory-b-final-exam-questions-friedman-december-1959/

  2. Shane Wright at SMH tweeted earlier:

    Federal budget set for March 29. First time Australia will have a March budget (previous earliest was April 2 in 2019).

    Looks like the federal election will now likely be sometime in May 2022 – 7th, 14th or 21st.

  3. Auf Wiedersehen Fritz

    110 years ago, Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch invented an industrial method for making compounds of nitrogen, especially ammonia (NH3). This had been a difficult problem for the previous century. Nitrogen is oxygen’s polar opposite. Oxygen will promiscuously mate unbidden with other elements like iron, forming bonds that take energy to break. Nitrogen is almost inert, and needs a lot of energy to form its picky bonds. The Haber-Bosch process https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haber_process#Process typically runs at 200 bar and 500 degrees C, and even then it takes several passes over beds of catalysts to achieve full conversion. All that energy has a price, and industrial synthesis of ammonia (130 mt/yr) for fertiliser and explosives is responsible for 1%-2% of greenhouse gas emissions.

    It is surprising to the non-chemist that this wasteful antique from the days of horse transport is still the workhorse (ahem) of a major industry. There are at last signs that this will change. At least three separate groups are working on more efficient alternatives. There are certainly many others. A search on Google Scholar for “Haber-Bosch alternatives” reported 20,700 ghits.

    Australia: Emma Lovell, Ali Jalili and colleagues at UNSW and Sydney University have invented a scalable method using plasma injected into bubbles in water, mimicking on a small scale the natural synthesis by lightning bolts. (Press release https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-tech/new-eco-friendly-way-make-ammonia-could-be-boon-agriculture-hydrogen-economy, abstract of research paper https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2021/ee/d0ee03769a/unauth )

    Canada: A startup called FuelPositive claims to have developed a system that “uses sustainable electricity, water and air to manufacture carbon-free NH3 in a low pressure and low temperature proprietary process.” The website https://fuelpositive.com/ gives no further details, so this is a very long shot. One encouraging sign is that they only claim a 30% improvement in energy efficiency, though as the scheme is based on renewable electricity, it is potentially a net zero solution.

    Europe: A consortium led by Aarhus University in Denmark has been awarded a €2.8m grant from the EU to explore several methods: “Three strands for ammonia synthesis will be developed and validated at TRL3: electro-catalytic, plasma-aided electrocatalytic as well as electrified thermal catalysis process that will serve as a benchmark.” There is no mention of the other two rival ventures. https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/101022738

    This is all quite a long way from replacing Haber-Bosch. But with at least three serious and independent efforts under way to attack a commercially very attractive target, there is a good chance someone will succeed.

    *********************************
    So what? In one sense, this is not an interesting story for public policy. Capitalism includes strong incentives for process efficiency, which improves all the time across the whole economy. If any of these bright ideas work, they will save investors lots of money, and accordingly will be adopted If not, the industry will plug along with HB, switching the energy source from gas to green electricity. Either way, the greening will be faster if there is a price on carbon, which is already the case in the EU.

    I like the news though for three reasons. One, HB is a huge gas-guzzler, where one self-financing change can make a significant difference to emissions pretty quickly. Two, it would potentiate and accelerate upstream advances in hydrogen electrolysis, and downstream ones in ammonia propulsion for ships.

    Lastly, this is another piece of the transition puzzle falling into place. It has been obvious for some time – if not to Bill Gates and Kevin Drum – that the world has all the affordable technology it needs to switch completely to green electricity and electric land transport (cars, vans, buses, trucks, and trains). The last few years have seen striking technical progress in some of the remaining hard cases. Hybrit have shipped samples of green steel made using hydrogen DRI. Twiggy Forrest plans a fleet of ammonia-fueled ships. The cement industry is on board with net zero by a relaxed 2050, naturally with “market incentives for low-emission building materials”. https://www.dezeen.com/2021/10/15/cement-concrete-industry-roadmap-net-zero-carbon-emissions-2050/ IMHO there are only two really intractable technical problems left: aviation and carbon removal, and one really hard political problem, agriculture and forestry.. These are where we need well-focused Manhattan Projects.

    PS: Talking about ships, I just caught an ad from Aramco on CNN patting themselves on the back for trialling ammonia fuel in a tanker. Pure greenwashing of course: if you make your ammonia with HB using hydrogen from steam-reformed fossil gas, there is negligible emissions benefit. But it does show that ammonia is catching on.

  4. A cheerful thought on the Omicron variant. The evolutionary pressure on a virus is to get more infectious over time. The dominant variant today, Delta, is extremely infectious. Such variants block the spread of any less infectious competitors. If mutations occur at a constant rate and are random, the chances of a new variant winning the infectiousness race decline over time.

    Of course, the characteristics that really worry us are not infectiousness but severity and vaccine resistance. There should not be selective pressure for severity: if anything, the other way round, as severely infected patients are hospitalized in conditions where spread is more difficult than outside. Vaccine resistance is a useful thing to have in evolutionary terms, but experience to date suggests that it is difficult for ccovid-19 to bring off. Taking the three characteristics together, it looks as if the chances of a doomsday Omega variant – super-infectious, lethal, and vaccine resistant – decline over time.

  5. KT2, I spent two years under the iron discipline of Milton Friedman’s PRICE THEORY. Along with two hundred and fifty other UNSW Commerce Faculty undergraduates I drew up, freehand, so many POQ diagrams I can still do them in my sleep. Looking back it seems such a waste of time. To establish a unique {P:Q} point for any one time is as useful as establishing a share price in a volatile financial market. In Friedman’s day there was more price stability, well that is before 1974. He must have felt justified in pushing his PRICE THEORY forward in such an environment. As we saw lately the Volatility Index has been high. Uncertainty cannot be simply assumed away in the current state of global economics. Economists do tend to look back like one would through a car windscreen. But this is often done to prepare for the uncertainty that is coming up fast on any market. Elastic demand and supply conditions seem now to be normal. Price elasticity of supply seems to now be dominated by external shocks. Some of these shocks are impossible to predict. Most economists have no idea about future economic market variations. To predict the future is to relive the past. If painful lessons are not learnt then events like the GFC and stagflation will again be shocks to any economic system. Friedman lived mainly in a more stable time. As John Kenneth Galbraith once wrote, we now live in the Age of Uncertainty. Economists must get used to answering question with the line: “I do not know”. To pretend to know all the answers is to expose your own ignorance.

  6. James Wimberley,

    The evolutionary pressure on a virus IS to get more infectious over time. Such variants DO reduce the spread of any less infectious competitors. Mutations are random but do NOT necessarily occur at a constant rate over time. Omicron has mutations in its proof reading segment and hence it seems it is tending to generate more mutations. If Omicron dominates, SARS_CoV_2 mutations will likely rise.

    Infectiousness is a characteristic that matters too. If a variant is half as likely to be lethal but it infects 4 times as many people then it clearly kills twice as many people. There is selective pressure for overall severity if by overall severity we mean infectiousness times lethality. Severely infected patients are hospitalized in conditions where spread is more difficult, that is true, but they have quite likely seeded cases in their asymptomatic phase. You suggest “experience to date suggests that it is difficult for ccovid-19 to bring off” vaccine resistance”. Maybe, be it’s still early days on that one.

    “Taking the three characteristics together, it looks as if the chances of a doomsday Omega variant – super-infectious, lethal, and vaccine resistant – decline over time.” Very possibly, but that time span is long, perhaps as long as 30 to 100 years. British scientists have flagged that short to mid term evolutionary pressure does not preclude the evolution of more infectiousness AND more lethality. This is especially so as there are still so many unvaccinated human hosts (6 billion?) to spread too. The virus does not care if it kills the host if it has infected several more in the asymptomatic period. However, human societies would freak out at a variant with the lethality of SARS 1 (30%) and the contagiousness of Omicron. Then we really would lock down totally. That would tend to stamp out super-lethal variants.

    We can note that we have evolved with influenzas and they have evolved with us. We are fine with ones we have met before (retaining some immunity) but not so good when we meet nu mutated flus. If we leave SARS_CoV_2 epidemic, the pattern could be the same. At any time in the future, a variant could effect immune and vaccine escape and start a new pandemic. But presumably with mRNA vaccines we could jump on it fairly quickly (within 100 days or so).

    Notwithstanding your and my theorizing and prognosticating on infectiousness and lethality, I strongly suspect this radically new virus will still surprise us and not in a good way. It was a huge mistake to let this novel zoonotic virus spread. It should have been eradicated and it still should be. Because SARS_CoV_2 and humans are so new to each other, we have a punctuated equilibrium evolutionary event on our hands. In this situation evolution, especially of the virus, accelerates. This virus is only at the beginning of exploring its evolutionary possibility space. The potential for more nasty surprises is high.

  7. Omicron is also generating conspiracy theories much faster than its forbears.
    Via Language Log, Taiwan News:
    “The WHO’s decision to skip the Greek letter Xi in its ludicrous naming system shows exactly who controls it.” https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4358336

    I’ll buy this. The decision in fact looks prudent after Trump’s insulting “China virus”. But another theory goes too far:
    LL Commenter Dan Milton: “A friend of mine wrote that omicron is moronic. It should be noted that he posted this on a Scrabble site.”
    LL Commenter Bloix: “The QANon-ers have latched on to the anagram as proof! proof! that the new variant is a hoax. There’s no such thing as a coincidence anymore.”

  8. The WHO skipped “nu” because it sounded like “new” and it might be confusing. They skipped “xi” because it sounds like Xi a common Chinese surname. Their charter requires the avoidance of cultural offence. No doubt that made their decision easy for them to help avoid giving extra offence to Xi Jinping while not looking like they are obviously doing that.

    The COVID-19 pandemic is probably already killing vax deniers at a significant differential rate, especially the older ones. No need to say much more on that score though the Darwin Award comes to mind.

    “The uptick in deaths (in the USA) is principally due to those who refuse to be vaccinated, those dubbed “anti-vaxxers.” Their refusal is a testament to the deepening political crisis gripping the nation.” – Counterpunch.

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/08/19/anti-vaxxers-and-the-unvaccinated-false-consciousness-in-a-time-of-pandemic/

  9. I should have added this to the above post:

    “If you look at the number of deaths [due to Covid-19], about 99.2 percent of them are unvaccinated. About 0.8 percent are vaccinated. … it’s really sad and tragic that most all of these are avoidable and preventable.” – Dr. Fauci.

    Clearly, the unvaxxed are dying at a highly differential rate. That has potential evolutionary implications for humans insofar as these effects extent to breeding age people. People and sub-cultures given to such ideations are being selected against and even selecting against themselves.

  10. Gregory McKenzie at 7:02 am “I spent two years under the iron discipline of Milton Friedman’s PRICE THEORY. Along with two hundred and fifty other UNSW Commerce Faculty undergraduates” …

    I hope I haven’t triggered nightmares!

    GMcK: “Economists must get used to answering question with the line: “I do not know”. 

    That is my thought and wish also.

    How about we group together, or fund a PhD, to apply to UQ Economics Dept to do a study on;

    “”The 1975-85 “UNSW Commerce Faculty undergraduates” use of Friedman’s Price Theory” compared to now, and effects”. Enlightening.

    JQ? New blog section? Willing workers here.

  11. Here are some, I’d bet, who have used Friedman’s Price Theory. To our detriment.

    Australian Energy Market Commission “Mission. To work for Australia’s future productivity and living standards by contributing to a decarbonising, affordable and reliable energy system for all consumers.”
    … SLOWLY, to protect ‘our’ “National gas objective (NGO)”. Beetaloo here we come!

    Renewable grid hindered to protect coal & gas by “charging storage providers for drawing power”.

    “ignoring a recommendation by the Australian Electricity Market Operator (AEMO) that they be exempt”

    AEMO, Tesla, Snowy Hydro, all said it will hinder investment.

    Q1. Why private investment?

    Q2. Why are these people able to do this? Oh. Public Service gutted.

    https://www.aemc.gov.au/about-us/executive-leadership-team

    https://www.aemc.gov.au/about-us/chair-and-commissioners

    Q3. JQ would you run the numbers and shiwing private vs pubkic expenditures please.

    Ask I asked the other day, (thanks Ikonoclast) I would like to see a sesaw or pie or radar graph providing at a glance the balance of private to public cists, investment and ownership. Ala a clock face allowing mug punters like me ro see how the commons are moving away from government into private hands.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/nov/30/kill-the-viability-big-batteries-to-lose-out-from-electricity-grid-rule-change
    *

    Wierdly, AMEC allows for individuals to submit rules changes. Better make a submission. No chance as it even ignores AMEO.

    “Making a rule change request”
    https://www.aemc.gov.au/our-work/changing-energy-rules-unique-process/our-work
    *

    “AEMC’s work is guided by the three legislated national energy objectives:

    ▪ National electricity objective (NEO)
    ▪ National gas objective (NGO)
    ▪ National energy retail objective (NERO).

    “Each objective requires an explicit focus on the long-term interests of energy consumers” who are also the biggest reatailers, and mug punters.
    https://www.aemc.gov.au/about-us

  12. KT2 re your questions on:
    “Chicago. Price Theory (B). Final Exam Questions. Friedman, December 1959 – Economics in the Rear-View Mirror”

    IMHO, JQ would have scored an A (at the top of the range of marks for this grade). JQ has an applied math degree (probably done before or simultaneously with economics).

    Depending on the level of the subject and the teaching approach, the examination questions look good to me, even today. The exam paper contains questions on technical issues and it allows for discussion questions. The former go toward testing whether people have thought about theoretical concepts and have understood (rather than learned the words that go with some textbook diagrams), taking the assumptions of the theoretical model of ‘the economy’ as a given. The latter test students awareness of the limitations of the ‘theoretical results’. That is, the conditions on which the result rests and therefore gaining an understanding when the result is useful (because the conditions approximate the real life situation) and when not. It is exactly this point where students are encouraged to compare theoretical conditions with the conditions in reality at a particular point in time and place and situation. The problem (misuse of theoretical results) occurs when ‘what was learned’ is taken as being relevant at all times and under all actual circumstances. Hence my reference to teaching method.

    The diagrams shown are graphs of differentiable continuous functions. High school calculus was and I imagine still is a prerequisite for entering an economics degree course. Often one reads or hears that economists obscure rather than enlighten with their use of mathematics. Some speak of the mathematisation of economics disapprovingly. Why would one use some mathematics from calculus in economics? Is it really to obscure? Can the business and every day economic life as lived by people really be described by differentiable continuous functions? I should think the answer to the last question is either no or it would be most tedious and totally unnecessary and obfuscating the simplicity of adding up the Dollar costs of a shopping bill and compare the resulting amount to the sum of the Dollars I have in my purse.

    How many page of printed words would be required to describe what is going on in all business enterprises and in all households and in all shops today – in Sydney, in Australia, in …. in the world? How will the description look tomorrow (assuming the first set of books has been completed before a new set of books has to be written) and how many more pages of discussions? And … who can see the woods for the tree? The answer to the last question is easy for me. I could not.

    Today social media provides platforms where lots of people are trying to tell others what they are doing (and what they ‘think’ they are thinking. A cacophony of messages is the result. Analysts use mathematical tools to find what we now call patterns of issues or assertions or discussion points.. Is it not possible that people who knew about calculus before it was applied to economic discussion points, recognised that the mathematics of differentiable continuous functions lend themselves to represent a real lot of what people talk about in business or elsewhere. (A good historian of economic thought may have the details. My wording merely reflects some of my observations during my lifetime so far.).

    To illustrate the argument I am trying to make consider the second diagram in the link provided. It deals with ‘short term’ and ‘long term’ marginal and average cost curves. It is a clever question, IMHO, in so far as the student has to identify ‘mistakes’ relative to (I assume) assumptions under which the theoretical result regarding ‘short term’ and ‘long term’ marginal and average cost curves. One has to know that in this context ‘short term’ relates to that period of time during which at least one factor of production cannot be increased. The long term refers to a sequence of ‘short term’ profit maximising productions, and is the ‘envelope’ of these profit maximising productions. Can this be related to the real world? Of course it could be related to some enterprises or industries in 1959 and it can be related to some now, but not all. I would exclude the finance industry, the legal industry, and a few others in line one. But among industries that deal with the production of physical things, I would say the development of the solar panel industry during the past few decades is representable by this ‘abstract’ analysis. This question is only concerned with ‘competitive industries’ (price taking in the contemporary language of economics). This tiny bit of the total and still growing body of ‘abstract mathematised’ economic analysis cannot be used to describe a new industry, the development over time is totally dominated by one player.

    Harry has the comparative advantage on micro-economics. Lets see what he says.

    Only because many economists do not agree with Milton Friedman’s reworking of the quantity theory of money (me included), does not mean M. Friedman was teaching some ‘wrong economics’.

  13. Ernerine, i sincerely appreciate your detailed reply. And I do realise M Friedman certainly knew how and what these theories are, and I thought ‘identify mistakes’ was a great way of testing students. I’d be more than happy to attend his, and your, Harry’s & JQ’s lectures. I may ask pointed questions none of you may appreciate, but as I have a 2 lesson brain by default without realising, I’d still ask. And I’d be the ‘diagrammer’.
    *

    As luck would have it, today I opened but not yet read;

    “Why e, the Transcendental Math Constant, Is Just the Best

    By PRADEEP MUTALIK
    November 24, 2021

    “The solution to our puzzle about Euler’s number explains why e pops up in situations that involve optimality.
    ….
    d/dx(ex) = e  to the pwr x.
    [No mathjax]
    “This says that the rate of change of  ex is equal to its value at all points. When x represents time, it signifies a rate of growth (or decay, for negative x) that is equal to the size or quantity that has accumulated thus far. There are myriad phenomena in the real world that do exactly this for stretches of time, and we know them as examples of exponential growth or decay. But, utility apart, there is an element of aesthetic perfection and naturalness in this property of e that can truly inspire wonder. It even carries a moral lesson; I like to think of it as a Zen-like function that, in its quest for growth, is always in perfect balance, never reaching out for more or less than what it has earned.”

    https://www.quantamagazine.org/why-eulers-number-is-just-the-best-20211124
    *

    And on a personal note, my yr8 daughter has recently mastered factorizing “monic quadratic trinomials”, and is verging on understanding discreet bs continuous functions. I am sure she will be doing basic calculus before uni. I now ask her for asaitance with maths occasionally. 

    I look too forward to a reply from Harry. JQ?
    Thanks.

  14. I glanced at the exam and they seemed standard problems. Friedman’s course in microeconomics at University of Chicago was legendary for its examples and its applied character. It changed people’s professional lives. The British taught that microeconomics was pretty theory but not to be taken seriously. Friedman and his school wanted to use microeconomics.

    I taught this type of economics for 30 years (not pretending I was within miles of the great Friedman) and regard it as the most important central core of economics. Every economist must learn and absorb this type of material.

    Friedman’s political values are part of modern liberalism. He preferred voluntary contracts to bureaucrat/government enforced regulation. Generally so do I. I’ll bet he would have supported a carbon tax – his answer to pollution was to tax it! That’s not “right wing” – it’s just good sense.

  15. Harry, I have a lot of catching up to do – “Every economist must learn and absorb this type of material.”
    *

    “Labor backs UK-style consulting hub for top bureaucrats
    Tom Burton

    “An internal consulting hub would help stem the loss of federal public sector capability, save money and promote “frank and fearless” advice, according to a new report from a Labor-dominated Senate committee.

    “The majority of the Finance and Public Administration References committee called for a formal cap on agencies to limit the amount of consulting, a ban on the use of consultants for strategic work, and the removal of Australian Public Service head count limits.

    [ article link I left in as I liked it…
    “Former AMWU chief and Labor senator Tim Ayres described consultants as “rent seekers” and “ticket clippers” who had contributed to the politicisation of the public service.  Alex Ellinghausen ( as are all EFT’s just ticket clippers imo)]

    “It also called for the completion of an audit of ICT contractors by the Digital Transformation Agency. The committee report cited statistics that showed across the 77 agencies for which data was provided there were 10,184 ICT contractors compared to about 10,020 for internal public servant ICT staff.

    “The minority rejected the recommendations, claiming they represented “little more than a wish list for the union movement, which represents a minority of the APS workforce and only a fraction of Australian taxpayers who fund the public service”.
    . ..
    https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/labor-backs-uk-style-consulting-hub-for-top-bureaucrats-20211126-p59cj4

  16. “The British taught that microeconomics was pretty theory but not to be taken seriously.” – H.C.

    I agree with the Brits. We can calculate how many angels can dance on the head of a pin only if we make theoretical assumptions about angels.

  17. KT2, I think the basic idea is to get a good feeling for markets and the way they work. Its to work through case studies and market-related problems using the simplest tools of microeconomics – supply, demand, consumer surplus etc. The best proponent of this approach I have encountered was E. (Ted) Sieper at the ANU. The best textbook I came across was by Alchian & Allen – a book that one notable (I’ll maintain a silence on his identity) described as the greatest work in economics since Adam Smith’s, Wealth of Nations. After 50 years I still keep a copy.

    Iconoclast, With the greatest respect you are launching missiles at alleged enemies but you often don’t know what you are talking about and you seem unconcerned about getting it wrong.

  18. Iko: Advert for an old blog post of mine reproducing in fine a really classy argument of St. Anselm on how good angels can have free will and yet be sinless: http://www.jameswimberley.es/Blog%20posts/2006/realism_ii_palmerston_meets_st_anselm.php.htm
    You have to hand it to the brutal but intelligent William the Conqueror. When the Anglo-Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury Sigurd died, you would expect William to have picked as successor a loyal Norman hack like Odo of Bayeux. Instead he chose the finest intellect in Europe, the Italian Anselm, not very busy running a Norman monastery. The move is analagous to hiring Novak Djokovic to coach your high school tennis team. William must have known it would not be plain sailing with Anselm either, and so it proved.

  19. The Friedman examn looks surprising solvable and limited in math use. The formulation of the open questions also look pretty harmless in terms of forcing the profs ideology on students. Seen worse from people with far more moderate political leanings.

  20. James Wimberley,

    Free will is a tricky one.

    1. If the material world is deterministic, being built on the deterministic behaviors of basic atomistic particles and associated forces (as per the descriptions of physics and chemistry) and if humans are made of material substance only, then there is no way humans can have free will.

    2. If the material world is nondeterministic as suggested by quantum indeterminacy, then there is again no way humans can free will. Certain things being undetermined (randomness and probability), leads to the possibility for random and chaotic behavior but not to the possibility of chosen free will behavior.

    3. If God exists (not a proposition I find credible, though part of me wishes I could find it credible) and if omnipotence is attributed to God, then all problems are solved. Anselm’s “theological legalism”, as I would call it, is not even necessary. An omnipotent God does not have to observe the so-called “Law of noncontradiction”. This “law” is actually not a law but an axiom. The Law of noncontradiction is an axiom of humanly invented logic.

    4. The logi- based axiom of noncontradiction works well for us in the meso world: that is to say in the human scale world (meaning the physical and time scales we live in). But the axiom of noncontradiction does not appear to hold at quantum levels, nor at cosmic levels. There appear to be aspects of the “quasmos” and the cosmos that mutually contradict, yet still co-exist.

    5. However, do aspects of the “quasmos” and the cosmos truly mutually contradict or is it that we simply cannot construct scientific models which reconcile those aspects? Thus for example,light requires a particle model and a wave model and string theory is still just one great big dead-end, AFAIK.

    6. I’ve constructed a monist materialist philosophy which demonstrates (“proves” from its own a prioris) the unavoidable incompleteness of (humanly generated) models. Hence, we never can or will solve the riddle of existence, or apparent free will) via logic or science. [1].

    7. My position is that we have what I term pseudo free will. It looks and feels like genuine free will but it is not. Intelligent beings needed to evolve, I argue, the felt illusion of free will in order to not feel under complete internal compulsion (like a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder). The feeling of internal compulsion was and is incompatible with feelings of well-being. The happiest, freest and most productive humans are those who (all else being equal) have the greatest internal feeling of freedom of action and the greatest levels of self-attribution for the source of their activities and successes.

    8. Some modern neurological studies suggest that there are fine structures in some brain cells (parts of the synapses?) which are at a scale where quantum effects are possible. It is possible that the brain harnesses quantum effects to generate non-deterministic outcomes. In this sense, the brain could generate what I term pseudo free will: not genuine free will but a not fully detemined will which feels subjectively like it is free.

    [Note 1] – “The incompleteness of science is very likely to prove intractable. Indeed, a proper consideration of Complex System Monism, as a form of historical or priority monism, demonstrates that mathematical and scientific incompleteness will be intrinsic and unavoidable, if the initial thesis of priority monism (of the cosmos) is correct. Under an assumption of thorough-going priority system monism, an explanation or model of reality, as a set of language statements or mathematical equations, can never be complete. In addition to being abstracted and simplified, an explanation or model of reality (of “all existence”) or of a sub-system thereof, must itself (the model that is) perforce be a smaller sub-set system (an emergent subset generated and mediated by a conscious human agent) of monistic reality itself (of “all-existence”). In emergence, the new formal statement adds a “radical novelty” to all-existence (the cosmos). All-existence now has another theory about itself (in human heads) which theory is a new, emerged part of all-existence. The explanation or model cannot have any existence separate and unconnected from the posited monistic system otherwise the claimed monistic system would not be monistic, by definition.” – Ikonoclast the Obscure’s unpublished, never to be published, thesis in progress. 😉

  21. Omicron information;
    > in depth with
    > many links,
    > best timeline news outlet ( didn’t even know of constant timeline news)
    > great discussion
    > about 2 days to 2 weeks to prevent escape after that forget about containing Omicron
    > WHO to me seem more like a OR outfit to calm pandemic actions / fears
    > situation changing by the day
    > markets and traders making a killing if following and acting on timeline to news – continous as opoosed to discreet news
    > Omicron crypto went wild
    > delay costs minor
    *

    “Omicron Variant Post #1: We’re F***ed, It’s Never Over
    It’s been quite the day. Here’s what we know so far.”

    Zvi Mowshowitz
    Nov 26
    [date very important as Zvi time stamping all references as situation rapidly altering!]

    “If buying time before a sufficiently large wave gets us better access to Paxlovid or other treatments, or allows us to get a lot more people booster shots that still work, or time to make a new version of the vaccine and roll it out, time can be quite valuable.

    “There’s also the possibility of stalling to get better seasonality effects when crunch time happens. The wave maxing out in December seems like maximally bad timing, and we’d prefer to push it to January or February.

    “If you buy time and then it is wasted, then nothing is gained. If you pay a big price to buy time, it needs to be paired with a similarly big effort to make use of that time.

    https://thezvi.substack.com/p/omicron-variant-post-1-were-fed-its

  22. Zvi Mowshowitz gets several things right and several things wrong. I think it more important (though less tactful) to start with what he gets wrong.

    The excessive criticism of the WHO is wrong and unfair. The WHO is hobbled in what it can do by the superpowers, in particular the USA and China, who each have their own agenda. The WHO’s funding is limited and it is tied to NOT offending the superpowers. The true blame for letting SARS_CoV_2 spread pandemically around the globe can and must be sheeted home to the superpowers and other great powers. China failed to contain it. The USA and EU (to name two) failed to prevent its global spread by failing to totally lock-down borders to non-essential travel; tourism and business travel being the two major issues.

    The idea that border lock-downs cannot work is nonsense as is any idea that multiple regional and local lock-downs don’t work. They do work and they cause less economic disruption than endless waves of more virulent strains and the concomitant losses of human quality life years. This disease was and is eradicable. The true and proper objects for blame are neoliberal capitalism itself and also Chinese and Russian crony state capitalism). These are the systems which failed to respond wisely or adequately. Neoliberal capitalism advises keeping the circuits of capital running no matter how many people die. It also advises and implements intellectual property rights (for state funded vaccine developments no less!) to give vast wealth to old and new billionaires while preventing the manufacture of more doses to assist the third world.

    Mowshowitz is right about buying time. Once we let the virus become pandemic, buying time is all we have until this zoonotic (unlikely it’s man-made) genie is put back in the bottle. He is wrong is he doesn’t envisage putting back in the bottle. Eventually it will have to be or our lives will become nearly unlivable. Connected global civilization cannot run while this virus AND climate change rampant. The two together, with negative synergies, are easily enough to collapse civilization in 2/3rds to all of the world.

    The planetary and civlization crisis is now deeper than ever. While we continue to cling to capitalism (neoliberal or state capitalism) we have absolutely no hope. The collapse, now begun, will continue. Implementing eradication measures for SARS_CoV_2 possesses full complementarity with the measures necessary to reduce climate change.

    1. Cease all optional international people movements (tourism and business travel).
    2. Cease all voluntary migration programs.
    3. Accept and correctly process (legally, medically, socially and morally) all bona fide refugees.
    4. Ring-fence and lock down national and internal state and local boundaries.
    5. Take IP off all vaccines and make them globally available at cost and/or as aid to poor countries.

    The great reduction of real resource costs in unnecessary movements and in treatments (chronic treatments are more costly than eradication) will reduce greenhouse emissions markedly. Given that we are in a climate code red planetary emergency, this is an absolute necessity.

    International trade of resources, good and services (reduced or altered to suit climate requirements) could continue with proper quarantine facilities for crews. Citizens and long term residents who wish to come home could do so safely with full quarantine stations but international tourism and even voluntary migration ought to cease globally, for the duration, until SARS_CoV_2 is eradicated globally, and not before.

    Only these, admittedly draconian, measures will save global civilization. Collapse will be far more draconian as nature applies its fundamental laws to an unsustainable global civilization. At some point, when things get bad enough, people will realize these advocated measures are the only way out, the only way to human survival on any scale and at any tolerable level.

  23. Question.

    “Hemel & Weisbach: The Behavioral Elasticity Of Tax Revenue

    By Paul Caron

    Daniel Hemel (Chicago; Google Scholar) & David Weisbach (Chicago; Google Scholar),The Behavioral Elasticity of Tax Revenue, 13 J. Legal Analysis 381 (2021):

    “This article presents a measure of the efficiency consequences of changes to tax policies that inform a wide range of tax law debates. Building upon recent extensions to the “elasticity of taxable income” concept, we clarify the relationship among revenue effects, administrative costs, and compliance costs. The resulting measure—the behavioral elasticity of tax revenue (BETR)—captures the change in total resources resulting from marginal changes in tax rates, the tax base, or tax enforcement. We illustrate the BETR’s utility through a series of case studies.

    “We also show how the BETR can help policy makers select more efficient redistributive mechanisms.
    https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2021/11/hemel-weisbach-the-behavioral-elasticity-of-tax-revenue.html
    *

    Q: will the above  “behavioral elasticity of tax revenue (BETR)” assist in introducing more progressive tax here, and also…

    “In Finland, speeding tickets are linked to your income

    “Around 3,400 people die in traffic crashes every day, leading to around 1.25 million deaths globally each year.

    “One-third of these deaths are caused by speeding, according to the World Health Organization. With road traffic crashes the leading cause of death among young people, some countries are coming up with innovative ways to stop people speeding.

    “In Finland, speeding fines are linked to salary. The Finns run a “day fine” system that is calculated on the basis of an offender’s daily disposable income – generally their daily salary divided by two.

    “The more a driver is over the speed limit, the greater the number of day fines they will receive.

    “This has led to headline-grabbing fines when wealthy drivers have been caught driving very fast.

    “In 2002, Anssi Vanjoki, a former Nokia director, was ordered to pay a fine of 116,000 euros ($103,600) after being caught driving 75km/h in a 50km/h zone on his motorbike.

    “And in 2015, Finnish businessman Reima Kuisla was fined 54,000 euro ($62,000) for driving 22km/h over the 50km/h speed limit.

    [ Switzerland has the correct ideas too]


    https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/06/in-finland-speeding-tickets-are-linked-to-your-income

  24. Harry Clarke,

    With the greatest respect, I’ll let Joseph Stiglitz speak for me:

    “For more than 20 years, economists were enthralled by so-called “rational expectations” models which assumed that all participants have the same (if not perfect) information and act perfectly rationally, that markets are perfectly efficient, that unemployment never exists (except when caused by greedy unions or government minimum wages), and where there is never any credit rationing.

    That such models prevailed, especially in America’s graduate schools, despite evidence to the contrary, bears testimony to a triumph of ideology over science. Unfortunately, students of these graduate programmes now act as policymakers in many countries, and are trying to implement programmes based on the ideas that have come to be called market fundamentalism … Good science recognises its limitations, but the prophets of rational expectations have usually shown no such modesty.”

    – Joseph Stiglitz

  25. Ikon quoting Stiglitz;
    “Unfortunately, students of these graduate programmes now act as policymakers in many countries,”

    And I suggested;
    *

    KT2 says at 9:38 am
    How about we group together, or fund a PhD, to apply to UQ Economics Dept to do a study on;

    “”The 1975-85 “UNSW Commerce Faculty undergraduates” use of Friedman’s Price Theory” compared to now, and effects”. Enlightening.

    JQ? New blog section? Willing workers here.
    *

    Let’s broaden study to all econ departments at all uni’s, Australia first and then globally.

    Easy to find grads, some here, policy makers and power players now. E.G. Larry Summers.

    Anyone know of such a study?

  26. ‘State Sponsored Secrecy
    Salt’ in JobKeeper Wound.

    “For being the architect of the most poorly designed expenditure program in the history of the Commonwealth, she got a medal! ”
    *

    “The comeuppance of JobKeeper architect Jenny Wilkinson

    “In FY20, Best & Less increased earnings by 62 per cent on the prior year (and 32 per cent of those earnings was pure JobKeeper). In FY21, it increased earnings by a further 100 per cent! The Australian taxpayer is now $800 billion in the mire and this bloke wants more free money so Best & Less and every other corporate freeloader can “bounce back the way [they have] previously”? As if doubling your earnings year-on-year is now an entitlement underwritten by the public. This pandemic has evoked a monstrous welfare mindset, and it’s nowhere near Centrelink.

    “Put another way, that $26.9 million of JobKeeper that Best & Less employees never saw would be enough to pay every Best &Less employee in New South Wales not just the $600 per week Disaster Payment but their full salary for 62 weeks.

    “Wilkinson was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Fiscal Group in Frydenberg’s Treasury Department in January 2020, where barely three months later she was designing the JobKeeper scheme. Incredibly, she was awarded the Public Service Medal on Australia Day this year “for outstanding public service in the development of fiscal policy, particularly in the formulation of the Australian government’s economic response to COVID-19”. For being the architect of the most poorly designed expenditure program in the history of the Commonwealth, she got a medal! “…

    https://www.afr.com/rear-window/the-comeuppance-of-jobkeeper-architect-jenny-wilkinson-20210727-p58dff

  27. ““”The 1975-85 “UNSW Commerce Faculty undergraduates” use of Friedman’s Price Theory” compared to now, and effects”. Enlightening.””

    ““For more than 20 years, economists were enthralled by so-called “rational expectations” models which assumed that all participants have the same (if not perfect) information and act perfectly rationally, that markets are perfectly efficient, that unemployment never exists (except when caused by greedy unions or government minimum wages), and where there is never any credit rationing.”

    Already had a longer text to this, which ended up in too off topic musings about a topic more familiar to me than econ curiculums (as far as one can call it that with a weird generalist MA and no further academic training): Organication culture.

    Maybe the more substancial point can be limited to those three things:
    First, (mandatory) econ courses for business and similar subject students, their content and their role (or as i´d guess rather lack thereof) in forming students future attitudes seems to me only half related to the role and course content of a high status econ Ph.D. program.

    Second, what seems more important to me than how the people at Friedmans Chicago ticked is how that department went to become so influential in economics and linked to that, the question how economics became so influential.

    Third: There is no way one can produce quasi sectarian market fundamentalists simply by teaching Ph.D. students the wrong models. Cultural transmission does hardly work through examn questions, even less so math related ones.

  28. “There is no way one can produce quasi sectarian market fundamentalists simply by teaching Ph.D. students the wrong models.” – Hix.

    I think one can if the models contain, or are based on, unexamined assumptions.

  29. Ikon, I agree cultural transmission occurs in these models. Cultural transmission is like the fish in water which doesn’t know it is swimming until gasping for air when out of water, or when the shout “Damn! I hit a damn dam wall”. You can’t examine the water if you don’t know you swimming in it.

    hix asks …”how that department went to become so influential in economics and linked to that, the question how economics became so influential.”

    Here is Elizabeth Popp Berman with an interesting answer hix;
    *

    “Thinking Like an Economist

    Elizabeth Popp Berman

    …”” These communities were, at the outset, made up mostly of center-left economists and first made inroads under the Democratic administrations of the 1960s. They sought to make government work better, not to make government smaller.

    “But the values associated with the economic style — its centering of efficiency and concern with tradeoffs — repeatedly came into conflict with other values traditionally associated with the left: particularly universalism, rights, and equality. The values implicit in the economic style could conflict with conservative values as well. But in practice, Republican administrations were more effective at using the economic style when it supported other priorities, and ignoring it when it conflicted. Democrats, on the other hand, more often found themselves constrained by economic reasoning.”

    “Built upon five years of research, the book makes comparisons across a number of policy domains, including primary case studies of antipoverty, antitrust, and environmental policy, as well as episodes from education, housing, labor, transportation, health, and communications policy. Drawing on historical evidence from nine archives, more than a hundred previously collected oral histories, and thousands of primary and secondary sources, it provides a new answer to the question of why U.S. politics took a lasting rightward turn during the 1970s, and new ideas about what it might take to reverse that change — not the rejection of economics, but an honest grappling with its political effects.”..?

    [Chapters open to read links]
    “Ch. 1, “The Preferences of Economists“

    “Ch. 3, “How to Make Government Decisions“

    https://epberman.net/thinking-like-an-economist/

    1hr video of…
    “Elizabeth Popp Berman ─ Thinking Like an Economist

    *

    Perhaps I need also to quote JQ and Economics in 2 Lessons. Any takers?

    I hope JQ reviews this. Came across it yesterday and haven’t had time ro read chapters or watch videos.

    Interested in others comments.

  30. Hix , for ” how [ selfish style ] economics became so influential” see ‘ the morals of the market ‘ by Jessica Whyte . For ” what makes them tick ” see ‘ mean girl ‘ about Ayn rand Lisa Duggan .

  31. I watched E. Popp Berman’s video clip. I found it interesting, particularly because she traces how economics entered institutions and what economics entered.

    Re Turner, mentioned in the video: Turner introduced microeconomics (see Harry above on microeconomics). Consumer welfare as described in microeconomics is still influential. This microeconomic description finds its reflection in ‘ cost minimisation’ in the area of production of goods and services.

    One has to, however, acknowledge that these microeconomic results are a) partial equilibrium results and b) the diagrams we discussed earlier on represent only how individuals and firms are assumed to have acted ” in equilibrium”. The more fundamental question: Under which conditions on each element of the economy does such an equilibrium exist – at least on a theoretical level – is not asked (or answered – there is a reliance on the belief that ‘ it works’ or, in M Friedman’s words ” the Walrasian system grinds out” , even though the Walrasian auctioneer has yet to be discovered empirically!). Furthermore, when microeconomic concepts are used to discuss a change (comparative statics) then one should be aware that the diagrams that often accompany the discussion (and recommendation!) literally depict a state of two different economies (rather than how one economy is moving to a different state).

    To illustrate my point with respect to Berman’s review of how microeconomics has influenced the institutional (law and its practice) change of the antitrust law from protecting consumers and small business to ‘ consumer welfare (see Harry’s post), I’d like to provide an insight from a system’s perspective (general equilibrium theory is a system theory, although until more recently it does not deal with the dynamics).

    Lower supermarket prices appear as an improvement of consumer welfare (using microeconomic concepts) compared to the prices of many small retailers. However, the appearance (the ‘analysis’) ignores possible income redistribution effects. Some people gain income (managers of supermarket and shareholders of the supermarket corporations) while many other people lose their jobs (some employees in small retail and the shop owners-operators where ‘income is approximately equal to profits) and those small business owner, who own the real estate ” shop” suffer a decline in asset value (ie a decline in wealth). . So, the possibility that a ‘ consumer’ gains on the swing and he/she loses on the roundabout is excluded in the partial equilibrium notion of consumer welfare. The idea that a person is or may be simultaneously a worker, a consumer, a investor, a saver and a borrower and a owner of something is somehow difficult to understand for people raised on some diagrams and a good narrative. None of this is to say that microeconomic ideas are not useful at all. Their usefulness depends on the purpose for which they are used. To the extent that I read hix in the way he intended, I would agree with hix that the mathematics in the Friedman 1959 examination question diagram is easy and if anything the mathematics helps to prevent blind belief.

    Returning to Berman’s video, IMHO she does a great job in tracing how microeconomic ideas have become institutionalised. In my understanding of her presentation the institutionalisation of microeconomic ideas involved the conversion of some theoretical ideas, which may be helpful in some cases, into methods akin to accounting rules. I see no need for detailed empirical research to support her conclusion that this institutionalisation is apparently difficult to undo; we are observing just that.

    So, Harry is quite right when he says microeconomics has changed the life of many people. Microeconomics, like Finance, was ‘successful’. But to paraphrase Schopenhauer, success does not confirm that it is right.

  32. Ernestine Gross,

    Excellent post thanks. Even a left ideologue like me is influenced by your nuanced posts. However, to express my prejudice, or my Dunnings-Kruger affects, I don’t believe most right ideologues are as reasonable as me. Furthermore, it is my experience that there are cases where it is a mistake to be more reasonable than one’s really unreasonable opponents.

  33. Preliminary, but Omicron appears to be more infectious than Delta and with increased ability to infect people with immunity from past infection or vaccination. Vaccination still helps a lot and can save your life but this variant makes booster shots vital.

    It appears less deadly, but only because it has infected so may people with immunity.

    We need a large increase in our efforts at wiping out COVID and keeping it out, because this variant has the ability to spread through Australians unvaccinated population and kill tens of thousands.

    The government should immediately give an emergency payment of at minimum of $100 for every COVID vaccination dose people receive or have had in the past. It’s the quickest, easiest way I can see to prevent a high death toll, not just from COVID but knock on effects from an overloaded health system.

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