nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2005‒10‒22
ten papers chosen by
Andy Denis
City University

  1. From Carl Menger’s Theory of Goods to an Evolutionary Approach to Consumer Behaviour By W. Ruprecht
  2. Was Frank Knight an Institutionalist? By Pier Francesco Asso; Luca Fiorito
  4. Ambiguity and uncertainty in Ellsberg and Shackle By Marcello Basili; Carlo Zappia
  5. A new economic journals’ ranking that takes into account the number of pages and co-authors By Pedro Cosme da Costa Vieira
  6. Agent-Based Computational Modeling And Macroeconomics By Tesfatsion, Leigh S.
  7. Equilibrium and Tâtonnement in Walras' Eléments By Franco Donzelli
  9. Jean-Baptiste Say et la théorie quantitative de la monnaie By Alain Béraud
  10. John Bates Clark on Trusts: New Light from the Columbia Archives By Luca Fiorito; John F. Henry

  1. By: W. Ruprecht
    Abstract: A characteristic feature of economic development is the ever changing structure of consumption patterns. Reducing the explanation of this phenomenon to changing prices, finally caused by changes in the availability of goods (or characteristics), would neglect a major force driving this change, i.e. the variation of consumer wants and consumer knowledge. The present paper aims at sketching an evolutionary framework for the analysis of consumer behaviour that takes account of these features. For this purpose, Carl Menger's theory of goods is taken as a starting point. Whereas economists after the 'marginalistic revolution' were almost exclusively concerned with the determinants of exchange value and developing price theory, Menger puts as much emphasis on the user value as on the exchange value. Regarding the way of how user value changes a connection between Menger’s 19th century theory of goods and 20th century learning theories is established. The problem of how to get from individual learning processes to aggregate consumption patterns is approached by recollecting the genetic underpinnings of human learning and its contingency on certain physical and social conditions. Taking into account that these conditions are dynamic, the presented approach allows interpreting collective learning processes as historical events and makes them fruitful for the analysis of economic change.
    Keywords: Austrian economics, evolutionary economics, consumer theory, learning
    JEL: A12 B25 B52 B53 D11 D83
    Date: 2005–10
  2. By: Pier Francesco Asso; Luca Fiorito
    Abstract: This paper critically examines Geoffrey Hodgson's recent provocative claim about Frank Knight as being a member of American institutionalism in the interwar years. In the first section of the paper the authors attempt to provide a definition of institutionalism and to emphasize its meaning from a historiographic point of view. The second and third sections analyze the two main methodological struggles between Knight and the institutionalists, namely, the debate during the early 1020s over the use of instinct theory as an explanation of economic behavior, and the subsequent campaign led by Knight in the late 1920s and early 1930s against the behaviorist wing of American institutionalism à la Copeland and Ayres. The fourth section deals with Knight's own brand of institutionalism. Our main conclusions are that, even if Knight's approach to the study of economic behavior shows some significant affinities with American institutionalism, he was not – both sociologically and in terms of his philosophical premises - an institutionalist.
    JEL: B15 B25 B41
    Date: 2005–09
  3. By: Demid Golikov
    Abstract: This is a short literature overview. (1) The literature demonstrates no coherent view on the nature of economic exchange and, in particular, provides no conventionally accepted, fully satisfactory explanation of the real effects of money. Recent developments in macroeconomics suggest a role for financial intermediaries. (2) The economics literature, however, has very little to say about that though the role of intermediaries in economic history has always been emphasised. (3) Further reading suggests that intermediation is largely missing from economics for methodological reasons. Revival of interest in this topic became evident in recent years thanks to developments in the treatment of asymmetric information, thin markets, and dynamics with innovations. (4) Today's literature, however, still primarily addresses empirical and specific issues like particular functions of intermediaries. Analysis of intermediation in the context of general equilibrium, explanation of its role in the monetary transmission and non-neutrality have not been seriously undertaken. Only a few authors so far have put forward their proposals for this perspective.
    Keywords: monetary theory, financial intermediary, asymmetric information, microfoundations
    JEL: B41 E4 E51 G21
    Date: 2005–10–20
  4. By: Marcello Basili; Carlo Zappia
    Abstract: This paper argues that Ellsberg’s and Shackle’s frameworks for discussing the limits of the (subjective) probabilistic approach to decision theory are not as different as they may appear. To stress the common elements in their theories Keynes’s Treatise on Probability provides an essential starting point. Keynes’s rejection of well-defined probability functions, and of maximisation as a guide to human conduct, is shown to imply a reconsideration of what probability theory can encompass, that is in the same vein of Ellsberg’s and Shackle’s concern in the years of the consolidation of Savage’s new probabilistic mainstream. The parallel between Keynes and the two decision theorists is drawn by means of a particular assessment of Shackle’s theory of decision, namely, it is interpreted in the light of Ellsberg’s doctoral dissertation. In this thesis, published only as late as 2001, Ellsberg developed the details and devised the philosophical background of his criticism of Savage as first put forward in the famed 1961 QJE article. The paper discusses the grounds on which the ambiguity surrounding the decision maker in Ellsberg’s urn experiment can be deemed analogous to the uncertainty faced by Shackle’s entrepreneur taking “unique decisions.” The paper argues also that the insights at the basis of the work of both Shackle and Ellsberg, as well as the criteria for decision under uncertainty they put forward, are relevant to understand the development of modern decision theory.
    Keywords: uncertainty, weight of argument, non-additive probability
    JEL: B21 D21
    Date: 2005–09
  5. By: Pedro Cosme da Costa Vieira (Faculdade de Economia, Universidade do Porto)
    Abstract: In this article, I examine whether the academics reward policy must correlate positively with the number of published articles per co-author, the number of pages and journal reputation. This is accomplished by estimating a non-linear model with a panel data from 168 economics journals covered in the ISI-Web of Knowledge database (58825 articles). The data reinforces the conjecture that published article value is slightly increasing with the number of co-authors and is proportional to the number of pages. The data also suggests that there are 4 distinct groups related to journal quality that I name A, B+, B and B–.
    Keywords: Co-authorship, Value of articles, Assessment of output
    JEL: J24 J31
    Date: 2005–10
  6. By: Tesfatsion, Leigh S.
    Abstract: Agent-based Computational Economics (ACE) is the computational study of economic processes modeled as dynamic systems of interacting agents. This essay discusses the potential use of ACE modeling tools for the study of macroeconomic systems. Points are illustrated using an ACE model of a two-sector decentralized market economy.
    Keywords: Agent-based computational economics; Complex adaptive systems; Macroeconomics; Microfoundations;
    JEL: B4 C6 C7 D4 D5 D6 D8 L1
    Date: 2005–07–26
  7. By: Franco Donzelli (Universita' degli Studi di Milano)
    Abstract: Equilibrium and tâtonnement in Walras' ElémentsFranco DonzelliAbstract Two alternative interpretations of the equilibrium notion employed by Walras in the Eléments and related writings have been recurrently suggested in the literature: a "stationary" interpretation and an "instantaneous" (specifically, temporary) one. Such persistent oscillations in the reading of Walras' equilibrium concept lead one to suspect that some ambiguity or inconsistency may possibly exist within Walras' original formulation of general equilibrium theory. In this paper we explore this conjecture focussing, in particular, on the relationship between the theory of the tâtonnement, regarded by Walras as an essential part of his overall equilibrium approach, and Walras' own interpretation of the equilibrium concept as employed in the Eléments. To this end we analyze the evolution of the tâtonnement construct over the four editions of the Eléments published during Walras' lifetime (1874-77, 1889, 1896, 1900), separately referring to each of the four nested equilibrium models developed by Walras therein (exchange, production, capital formation, circulation and money). From our analysis it turns out that either interpretation can indeed be traced back to Walras' original treatment of the tâtonnement process and associated equilibrium notion in one or the other of the many models put forward in the various editions of the Eléments: specifically, while the "instantaneous" interpretation goes back to the exchange model, as dealt with in the second (1889) and subsequent editions, the "stationary" interpretation is instead grounded in Walras' theory of the tâtonnement process in production, as developed in the second (1889) and third (1896) editions of the Eléments. Yet, it is only the "instantaneous" interpretation to pass the internal consistency test, as Walras himself eventually realizes in preparing the fourth (1900) edition of his magnum opus, where in fact only the "instantaneous" (specifically, temporary) equilibrium notion survives.
    Keywords: Walrasian equilibrium, disequilibrium, tâtonnement,
    Date: 2005–07–18
  8. By: Thierry Kirat (IRISECREP - Institut de recherche interdisciplinaire en socio-économie - Centres de Recherches et d'Etudes Politiques - - CNRS : UMR7170 - Université Paris Dauphine - Paris IX); Laurent Vidal (IRISECREP - Institut de recherche interdisciplinaire en socio-économie - Centres de Recherches et d'Etudes Politiques - - CNRS : UMR7170 - Université Paris Dauphine - Paris IX)
    Abstract: Le tissage de liens étroits entre le droit et l'économie est une question d'autant plus cruciale que se développent des formes nouvelles de régulation de pans entiers de la vie économique et qu'apparaissent des considérations économiques au cœur même de la régulation juridique, comme le démontrent l'essor du droit de l'énergie et des réseaux ou les pratiques étrangères de partenariats public-privé. Les nouvelles formes de contrats entre personnes publiques et personnes privées supposent en effet de recourir à l'analyse économique et financière dans la négociation du contrat, son financement et sa supervision. Les juristes ne peuvent plus ignorer la place prise par les considérations économiques dans le droit, et dans le droit public en particulier. La question qui se pose alors immédiatement est de déterminer si le monde du droit doit s'ouvrir à l'économie et, dans l'affirmative, dans quelle mesure et à quel type d'économie. C'est dans cette optique que nous souhaitons apporter ici quelques éléments d'analyse et proposer des perspectives pour un dialogue renouvelé entre juristes et économistes.
    Keywords: droit - économie - théorie du droit
    Date: 2005–10–07
  9. By: Alain Béraud (THÉMA - Théorie économique, Modélisation et Applications - CNRS : UMR7536 - Université de Cergy Pontoise)
    Abstract: Ricardo pensait que les coûts de production de l'or déterminent la valeur des lingots. Say soutient, contre lui, que l'offre et la demande déterminent le prix de l'or et de l'argent aussi bien que la valeur des monnaies. Il construit ainsi une théorie monétire qui est plus proche que celle de Ricardo des interprétations que l'on donne aujourd'hui de la théorie quantitative de la monnaie
    Keywords: Say; Ricardo; théorie quantitative de la monnaie; loi des débouchés; billets de banque
    Date: 2005–10–06
  10. By: Luca Fiorito; John F. Henry
    Abstract: The paper sheds new light on John Bates Clark’s mature position on the “trust” issue. Access to previously unpublished 1911 testimony before the Interstate Commerce Committee of the U.S. Senate, it is shown that, although Clark relied generally on competitive forces to keep monopoly power in check, following the Standard Oil and American Tobacco cases of that year, he lost considerable faith in the power of his concept of “potential competition,” or latent competition that may or may not be realized. What he advocates here is government promotion of actual competition, largely through the dissolution of the “perilous” trusts and the development of a common pricing policy where all producers face the same price regimes in both the output and input markets. What is desired as an outcome is the promotion of what Clark terms “tolerant competition.” Tolerant competition is not the perfect competition of the neoclassical model, nor the rough-andready competition of the pre-1870 era. Rather, it is a live-and-let-live form of competition where big firms and small firms face the same pricing conditions and only efficiency determines the profit outcome.
    JEL: B13 B31
    Date: 2005–09

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