Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sraffian sidebar update

I have added another name to my short link list. It's the Robert Vienneau blog, in the vague hope that its presence there will remind me that the original purpose of D^2D was heterodox economics. Robert Vienneau is (more or less) an economist of the Sraffian persuasion. Economists are in general rather wary about Sraffians, because we have a nagging suspicion that they might be right, which would be irksome if true as it would involve chucking away everything we did in grad school and learning a lot of really complicated and tedious maths instead. Sraffians also have a frightening habit of creating "simple examples" to illustrate their system; this is Sraffian for "something which starts off by calmly claiming that there are two goods called corn and iron, and five minutes later has ballooned into a wretchedly complicated optimisation problem with no differentiable production function, no equilibrium and all sorts of strange terminology, illustrated with a graph that is if anything more incomprehensible than the model". There used to be lots of Sraffians (or at least, neo-Ricardians) in British universities in the 1970s; I think Andrew Glynn and Paul Ormerod at least got their toes wet in corn-iron models. But these days, not so many.

I have tended to have good luck in conversation with Sraffians by a) agreeing with everything they say and b) learning to say "yes, of course, that follows from the properties of a linear programming system" in a tone of voice that implies I know what it means, all the while backing toward the door and/or looking for a weapon. Anyway, Robert's blog is good reading; in particular, he regularly has a good old go at Gregory Mankiw (Thank You Mr Mankiw) from time to time, which is a salutory reminder that Mankiw's textbook is, as more or less the standard work on neo-classical economics, full of rather more and more serious fundamental mathematical errors than the profession would care to admit.
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