nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2008‒07‒20
eight papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Chicago

  1. Friedman's Nobel Lecture reconsidered By James Forder
  2. The Institutional Approach in the Economic Thought of Carlo Cattaneo By Maurizio Mistri
  3. What and how long does it take to get tenure? The Case of Economics and Business Administration in Austria, Germany and Switzerland? By Susanne Warning; Christian Wiermann; Günther G. Schulze
  5. Untangling the Indivisibility, Interdependency, and Interrelatedness of Human Rights By Daniel J. Whelan
  6. The historical place of the 'Friedman-Phelps' expectations critique By James Forder
  7. A simple model of decision making: How to avoid large outliers? By Varsanyi, Zoltan
  8. Thinking About It: A Note on Attention and Well-Being Losses From Unemployment By P Dolan; N Powdthavee

  1. By: James Forder
    Abstract: In his Nobel lecture, Friedman built on his earlier argument for a 'natural rate of unemployment' by painting a picture of an economics profession which, as a result of foolish mistakes, had accepted the Phillips curve as offering a lasting trade-off between inflation and unemployment and were thereby led to advocate a policy of inflation. It is argued here that in fact the orthodox economists of the time did not accept Phillips' analysis; almost no one made the mistakes in question; and very few advocated inflation on bases vulnerable to Friedman's theoretical critique. The Phillips curve was put to various uses, but advocating inflation was hardly amongst them. It is suggested that one lasting result of the uncritical acceptance of Friedman's history is to limit what appears to be within the reasonable range of views about macroeconomic policy.
    Keywords: Phillips Curve, Inflation, Friedman
    JEL: B22 B31 E12
    Date: 2008
  2. By: Maurizio Mistri (University of Padua)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the contributions to political economy of Carlo Cattaneo as an ante litteram institutionalist scholar. Carlo Cattaneo has been an original thinker with a polyhedricity of cultural interests. From a point of view of political economy, we can say that Cattaneo was influenced by the concept of sociality. He studied the human action framed in his social and relational dimensions. Cattaneo was aware that the development of society needed to be seen as the result of complex interactive and often conflicting forces. Carlo Cattaneo has been interested in forces that generate change in social and economic structures. One of these forces is the human intelligence -to day we say knowledge- which is at basis of his value theory. Another important force is the action of the enterpreneurs, who are the engines of economic progress. Cattaneo devoted a particulr attention to links between law and economic activities. In the paper the role of laws on economic trajectories is discussed, with a special attention to the effects of Israeli interdictions.
    Keywords: technological change, institutions, knowledge
    JEL: D83 K2
    Date: 2008–07
  3. By: Susanne Warning; Christian Wiermann; Günther G. Schulze (Department of International Economic Policy, University of Freiburg)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the determinants of tenure decisions in Germany, Austria and the German-speaking part of Switzerland for professorships in economics, business administration and related fields. Our data set comprises candidates who were awarded tenure as well as those who were eligible but were not tenured. We show that business candidates have a higher probability of being tenured than economists. Youth, marital status, and publications matter; gender and children do not. The market for first appointments in economics relies much more on publication performance than the market for business administration.
    Keywords: Habilitation, tenure, academic labor market
    JEL: A11 I23
    Date: 2008–07
  4. By: Offer, Avner
    Abstract: The Meade and Stone approach to national accounting (first published for the UK in 1941) eventually provided the template for the United System of National Accounts. Feinstein’s historical national accounts for the UK developed out of this project and built on its earlier contributions. He was the foremost constructor of historical accounts in the UK, and shared with other national accounting pioneers a pragmatic approach and a bias against neo-classical general equilibrium. He made important contributions to growth accounting and the measurement of standards of living, and also left his mark as a teacher and as an academic leader. His commitment to racial equality in South Africa preceded his academic career, and continued after his formal retirement.
    JEL: N01 E01 B32
    Date: 2008–06–23
  5. By: Daniel J. Whelan (Hendrix College)
    Abstract: Human rights are said to be "indivisible, interdependent and interrelated." However widely used within UN parlance and among scholars and activists, these terms are rarely unpacked and often used interchangeably. This short paper attempts to untangle the meanings and values these terms represent and reflect, based on a careful reading of the history of especially the two "grand categories" of human rights--civil/political, and economic/social/cultural--as those rights are expressed in the two main human rights covenants.
    Keywords: human rights; United Nations; indivisibility; interdependence; interrelatedness
    JEL: A12
    Date: 2008–04
  6. By: James Forder
    Abstract: The 'expectations critique', usually attributed to Friedman or Phelps and dated towards the end of the 1960s, in fact originates much earlier. And rather than being an insight properly attributable to a particular individual, it was, by that time, a commonplace of economic discussion. This much is easy to establish. It is argued that the common attribution arises at least in part because the Keynesians unwisely chose to express their disagreement with Friedman in terms of expectations rather than in terms of the existence of the natural rate of unemployment. As a result, forty years later, it has become hard to see that two separate points ever existed.
    Keywords: Phillips Curve, Inflation, Expectations Critique
    JEL: B22 B31
    Date: 2008
  7. By: Varsanyi, Zoltan
    Abstract: In this paper I present a simple model through which I examine how large unwanted outcomes in a process subject to one’s decisions can be avoided. The paper has implications for decision makers in the field of economics, financial markets and also everyday life. Probably the most interesting conclusion is that, in certain problems, in order to avoid large unwanted outcomes one, regularly and intentionally, has to make decisions that are not optimal according to his/her existing preference. The reason for it is that the decision rule might get “overfitted” to one’s (recent) experience and may give wrong signals if there is a change, even as temporary as in one single period, in the environment in which decisions are made. I find the optimal decision making strategy in an example case – the optimal strategy, however, may well be different in different real-world situations.
    Keywords: endogeneity; non-stacionarity; outliers; simulation; uncertainty
    JEL: D81 C15
    Date: 2008–06–05
  8. By: P Dolan; N Powdthavee
    Abstract: This note investigates Schkade and Kahneman's (1998) maxim that "Nothing in life is quite as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it". The paper shows that whilst becoming unemployed hurts psychologically, unemployment has a greater impact on happiness if the person also regards it as an important event that took place in the last year. This finding, particularly if it is replicated for other domains, such as health and income, will have important implications for how we think about the impact of objective circumstances on well-being and about well-being more generally.
    Keywords: Happiness, Well-being, Attention, Focusing illusion, Unemployment
    JEL: H0 I0
    Date: 2008–07

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