nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2008‒10‒21
ten papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Chicago

  1. What You Don't Know Won't Hurt You: A Laboratory Analysis of Betrayal Aversion By Jason Aimone; Daniel Houser
  2. Macroeconomics without the LM: A Post-Keynesian Perspective By Thomas I. Palley
  3. The usury doctrine and urban public finances in late-medieval Flanders (1220 - 1550): rentes (annuities), excise taxes, and income transfers from the poor to the rich By Munro, John H.
  4. "Implementation and Social Influence" By Hitoshi Matsushima
  5. Are Leading Papers of Better Quality? Evidence from a Natural Experiment By Tom Coupé; Victor Ginsburgh; Abdul Noury
  6. Islamic Economics: A Survey of the Literature By Zaman, Asad
  7. The Relevance of Irrelevant Alternatives: An experimental investigation of risky choices By Eike B. Kroll; Bodo Vogt
  8. Arrow's Impossibility Theorem: Preference Diversity in a Single-Profile World By Allan M Feldman; Roberto Serrano
  9. Lessons on Reshaping the International Monetary Order - Revisiting J. M. Keynes “Activities 1940-1944” on the Creation of the Bretton Woods Institutions By Piffaretti, Nadia F.
  10. Towards a Characterization of Rational By Itai Arieli

  1. By: Jason Aimone (Interdsciplinary Center for Economic Science, George Mason University); Daniel Houser
    Abstract: Trust promotes economic growth and development, and previous research has shed much light on reciprocity and other motives for trusting decisions. Why people choose not to trust has received substantially less attention, perhaps in part because not trusting is predicted by standard economic theory: selfish people consider the (perhaps subjective) stochastic nature of the environment and make the earnings-maximizing decision. This explanation is incomplete: we provide evidence from a laboratory analysis with an investment game that people¡¯s decisions vary according to how an environment¡¯s uncertainty will be resolved. In particular, if resolving uncertainty requires an investor to learn whether her trustee chose to betray then she is much less likely to trust. Our data thus provide evidence that ¡°betrayal aversion¡± detrimentally affects propensities for trusting decisions. Our results also emphasize the importance of impersonal, institution-mediated exchange in promoting investment and economic efficiency.
    Date: 2008–09
  2. By: Thomas I. Palley (Economics for Democratic & Open Societies, Washington DC, and Visiting Scholar at the Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK), Germany)
    Abstract: Romer (2000) provides an alternative model to the AS/AD and IS/LM models that abandons the LM schedule by having the short-term interest rate set by the central bank. His framework acknowledges the critical role of the central bank in determining short-term interest rates, which moves mainstream macroeconomics closer to Post Keynesian monetary theory. The current paper presents a Post Keynesian construction of macroeconomics without an LM schedule. Rather than describing the financial sector in terms of an exogenously determined interest rate set by the central bank, the model unpacks financial markets by fully specifying a banking sector. The key analytic feature of the Post Keynesian approach is to replace the money market with the loan market. That makes transparent the macroeconomic significance of the loan market and bank behavior, and generates an endogenous money supply driven by bank lending. If banks become more optimistic over the
    Keywords: bank lending, credit, endogenous money, loan market.
    JEL: E12 E40
    Date: 2008
  3. By: Munro, John H.
    Abstract: The objectives of this study are three-fold. The first is to rebut Charles Kindleberger’s famous dictum that usury ‘belongs less to economic history than to the history of ideas’; and in particular to demonstrate that the resuscitation of the anti-usury campaign from the early 13th century led to a veritable financial revolution in late-medieval French and Flemish towns: one that became the ‘norm’ in modern European states from the 16th century (in England, from 1693): a shift in public borrowing from interest-bearing loans to the sale of annuities, usually called rentes or renten. That anti-usury campaign had two major features: (1) the decrees of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, which provided harsh punishments – excommunication -- for both unrepentant usurers and princes who failed to suppress them; and (2) the establishment of the two mendicant preaching orders: the Franciscans (1210) and the Dominicans (1216), whose monks preached hellfire and eternal damnation against all presumed usurers – including, of course, anyone who received any interest on government loans. There is much evidence that from the 1220s, many financiers in many French and Flemish towns, fearing for their immortal souls, preferred to accept far lower returns on buying rentes than the interest they would have earned on loans. These rentes, based on 8th-century Carolingian census contracts, had two basic forms: (1) life-annuities, by which a citizen purchased from the government, with a lump sum of capital, an annual income stream lasting a lifetime, or the lifetime of his wife as well; (2) perpetual annuities, by which the annual income stream was indeed perpetual, or until such time as the government chose to redeem the rentes, at par. Initially, some theologians opposed sales of rentes as subterfuges to cloak evasion of the usury doctrine. But in 1250-1, Pope Innocent IV declared them to be non-usurious contracts, essentially because they were not loans. Subsequent popes in the 15th century confirmed his views and the non-usurious character of rentes, on two conditions: (1) that the buyer of the rente could never demand redemption or repayment, and (2) that the annual annuity payments (and any ultimate redemptions) be in accordance with actual rent contracts: i.e., that the funds be derived from the products of the land. Ecclesiastical authorities soon agreed that taxes on the consumption of the products of the land (and sea) met this test: i.e., taxes on beer and wine (which always accounted for the largest share), bread, textiles, fish, meat, dairy products, etc. The second objective is to measure the importance of 'rentes' in the civic finances of Flemish towns, in terms of both revenues and expenditures: from the annual town accounts Ghent (14th century only), and Aalst (1395-1550), where they had far greater importance. The related third objective is to measure the burden of the excise taxes for master building craftsmen in Aalst, in tables that measure the values of the excise tax revenues expressed in real terms: first, in the equivalent number of ‘baskets of consumables’ (which form of the base of the Consumer Price Index), and second their value in terms of the annual money-wage incomes of master masons (for 210 days). This provides an entirely new look at the late-medieval ‘standard of living’ controversy – with indications that this consumption-tax burden sometimes rose from about 13,200 to almost 30,000 days’ wage income, for a town of perhaps 3600 inhabitants (but obviously less dramatic on a per capita basis). That tax burden rose the most strongly when, by other indications, real wages (RWI = NWI/CPI) were also finally rising; and thus possibly these real wage gains were largely eliminated. That per capita tax burden would have been all the greater if, in the course of the 15th century, Aalst had experienced the same decline as did small towns of Brabant, to the east, on the order of 25%, and some other Flemish towns, in which the population decline varied from 9% to 28 %. In earlier publications I had challenged the widespread view that the era following the Black Death, with a radical change in the land:labour ratio, came to be a ‘Golden Age’ of the artisan and labourer. I contended instead that frequent inflations eroded or eliminated wage gains, and thus that periodic rises in real wages were due essentially to steep deflations combined with pronounced wage-stickiness. As I also calculated, English artisans in the 1340s had earned real wages that were about 50% of the Flemish; but by the 1480s, they had narrowed that gap (with much less inflation) to about 80%. That gap was probably even smaller, until the 1640s, when England’s Parliament finally imposed similar excise taxes on consumption.
    Keywords: usury; canon law; Church Councils; public debts; civic loans; excise taxes; rentes (annuities); warfare; Flanders; Ghent; Aalst; inflation; deflation; real wages; building craftsmen
    JEL: E62 E43 N93 D31 E42 B11 J45 E25 J81 H20 E31 H31 H71 E44 J31 J10 O52
    Date: 2007–08
  4. By: Hitoshi Matsushima (Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo)
    Abstract: This paper incorporates social psychology into implementation theory. Real individuals care not only about their material benefits but also about their social influence in terms of obedience and conformity. Using a continuous time horizon, we demonstrate a method of manipulating the decision-making process, according to which, an uninformed principal utilizes her/his power of social influence to incentivize multiple informed agents to make honest announcements. Following this method, we show that with incentive compatibility, the principal can implement any alternative as she/he wishes as the unique Nash equilibrium outcome, even if her/his power is limited and no contractual devices are available.
    Date: 2008–10
  5. By: Tom Coupé; Victor Ginsburgh; Abdul Noury
    Abstract: Leading papers in a journal’s issue attract, on average, more citations than those that follow. It is, however, difficult to assess whether they are of better quality (as is often suggested), or whether this happens just because they appear first in an issue. We make use of a natural experiment that was carried out by a journal in which papers are randomly ordered in some issues, while this order is not random in others. We show that leading papers in randomly ordered issues also attract more citations, which casts some doubt on whether, in general, leading papers are of higher quality.
    Date: 2008
  6. By: Zaman, Asad
    Abstract: A central thesis of this paper is that social science is the study of human experience, and hence strongly conditioned by history. Modern Western political, economic and social structures have emerged as a consequence of the repudiation of religion, and are based on secular principles. Many of these are inimical to Islamic principles, and cannot be adapted to an Islamic society. Muslim societies achieved freedom from colonial rule in the first half of the twentieth century and sought to construct institutions in conformity with Islam. The development of Islamic economics is part of this process of transition away from Western colonial institutions. This paper focuses on the contrasts between Western economic theories and Islamic approaches to organization of economic affairs. Neoclassical theory is centered around the acquisitive instinct of humans, and makes competition the driving force of economic analysis. Islamic approaches foster cooperation and encourage generosity as the fundamental principle for handling economic affairs. Human beings have potential for good and evil, and are free to choose between the two; their behavior is not subject to mathematical laws postulated by neoclassical economic theory. The main message of Islam is that we must strive to achieve the potential for good both at the individual and at the social level. Behavior in the economic realm is also governed by this goal. Islamic law (Shari’ah) provides the framework for all activity within an Islamic society. In the economic domain, Islamic law regulates both methods by which money may be earned and also the ways it may be spent. Acquisition of wealth is permissible only in ways which are just to all parties concerned; exploitation, arbitrary taxation, and individual profit resulting in social harm is not permissible in Islamic law. This puts numerous restrictions on business practices utilized to make profits. For example, polluting the environment, or selling products which lead to moral corruption would not be permissible in Islamic law. Wealth which has been acquired becomes private property, which is both a trust and a test according to Islamic concepts. The “trust” aspect means that property must be used in ways beneficial to the individual and society. The “test” aspect means that those who have more than they need should take care of those who are in need. Ways in which acquired wealth can be spent is also subject to Islamic law. People are expected to strive to be self-sufficient and not ask from others. Thus striving to acquire wealth and spending it on personal and family needs is encouraged by Islamic law. Islam does not preach austerity and encourages a comfortable standard of living. At the same time, it strongly discourages spending on idle desires, luxuries, and ostentation. There is also a strong encouragement to spend what is beyond ones needs on social welfare. These fundamental principles for acquiring wealth, using property (acquired wealth), and spending it impact on all realms of economic activity. Since these are substantially different from Western ideas in all three areas, there are substantial contrasts between Western economic institutions and Islamic ones. The paper traces out these differences in many realms of economic activity. The primary objective of an Islamic state is to provide justice, and Islamic public finance is concerned with tracing the concrete implications of this abstraction in the economic realm. Western financial institutions have the acquisition and multiplication of wealth as their prime objective. Since acquisition of wealth can only be a means to an end, these institutions require modification in an Islamic society. Similarly, Islamic imperatives for social welfare require construction of certain uniquely Islamic types of institutions which do not have counterparts in the West. The paper discusses these issues in some detail.
    Keywords: Islamic Economics; Neoclassical Economics
    JEL: Z12 B59
    Date: 2008–06
  7. By: Eike B. Kroll (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg); Bodo Vogt (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)
    Abstract: Experimental economists have discovered various violations of expected utility theory and offered alternative models that can explain laboratory results. This study discovers a new violation in risky choices that cannot be explained by theories like Prospect Theory, Disappoint- ment or Regret Theory. In an experimental setting using a between- subject design, the influence of a dominated alternative on certainty equivalents is shown. One group of subjects was offered a series of choices between a lottery ticket with a 50-50 chance of winning and a sure payoff. A second group was offered the same choice plus a third alternative, that as it turned out was not chosen by any participant. As a result, the average chosen sure payoff in the second group was higher than in the first group. That means, by adding a dominated alternative to a choice set, the certainty equivalent of a lottery is in- creased.
    Date: 2008–09
  8. By: Allan M Feldman; Roberto Serrano
    Abstract: In this paper we provide two simple new versions of Arrow’s impossibility theorem, in a model with only one preference profile. Both versions are transparent, requiring minimal mathematical sophistication. The first version assumes there are only two people in society, whose preferences are being aggregated; the second version assumes two or more people. Both theorems rely on assumptions about diversity of preferences, and we explore alternative notions of diversity at some length. Our first theorem also uses a neutrality assumption, commonly used in the literature; our second theorem uses a neutrality/monotonicity assumption, which is stronger and less commonly used. We provide examples to illustrate our points.
    Keywords: Arrow's Theorem; single-profile
    Date: 2008
  9. By: Piffaretti, Nadia F.
    Abstract: As we witness profound changes in the global economy, and the raise of a multipolar intergrated global economy, as it appears clear that so-called “Revived Bretton Woods System” as described by in their influential paper by Dooley, Folkerts-Landau and Garber (2003) (in which many countries, particularly in Asia, limit exchange rate fluctuation against the dollar, accumulating as a consequence enormous reserves in dollars) maybe be nothing more than a temporary non sustainable financing of the US structural internal imbalance, it’s worth revisiting the origins of the Bretton Woods Institutions, and pointing out to the relevance for today’s framework of Keynes’ original 1942 plan. In this note we explore the main characteristics of Keynes’ original plans for an international Clearing Union, by revisiting his original writings between 1940-1944, and we briefly outline the relevance of his plan to today’s framework.
    Keywords: International Financial Architecture; Bretton Woods Institutions; Plan Keynes; Money
    JEL: E12 E58 E42 F02 N20 E00 E50 F33
    Date: 2008–10–11
  10. By: Itai Arieli
    Date: 2008–10–13

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