Economics, Literature and Scepticism

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I am a PhD student in Economics. I am originally from South Africa and plan to return there after my PhD. I completed my M. Comm in Economics and my MA In Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Cape Town, where I worked as a lecturer before starting my PhD.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Kaletsky on Homo Economicus

Posted by Simon Halliday | Thursday, April 09, 2009 | Category: |

I have had Anatole Kaletsky's article 'Goodbye Homo Economics' sitting in my opened tabs for a couple of weeks now.  I found his commentary germane, though not always accurate. First, I am regularly annoyed by people using the word 'economists' to denote macroeconomists, specifically of the theoretically and policy-oriented bent.  I am an economist, but I focus on microeconomic behaviour and evolutionary economics.  It annoyed me that Kaletsky subscribed to the current journalistic jihad against 'economists' when criticising macroeconomics.  Second, I think that Kaletsky should take a look at The Origins of Wealth by Eric Beinhocker.  Beinhocker argues that economics should be more incorporative of heterodox approaches, including those Kaletsky indicates, in addition to striving for an underlying method that is strictly scientific and statistical.  Consequently, macroeconomics may become more like meteorology, humbler about its predictions and couching them properly. Though unable to predict the magnitudes of all policies it would be scientifically rigorous.  I am not claiming this is what economics should become, rather that it is one path among many. Scientific rigour must remain crucial, in all likelihood this will require more sociology, psychology, neuroscience, history AND mathematics and statistics.  Mathematics and statistics won't be dropped because some nincompoops abused them, they will remain relevant.  (Photo appears in the Kaletsky article in Prospect Magazine)

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