nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2011‒08‒02
nine papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. A behavioral approach to the political and economic inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations By Boettke, Peter
  2. Reconstructing the Quantity Theory (I) By Kakarot-Handtke, Egmont
  3. Uncertainty aversion and equilibrium in extensive games. By Rothe, Jorn
  4. Angus Maddison and Development Economics By Szirmai, Adam
  5. Economics and Theoretical Physics By Punabantu, Siize
  6. Convexity and the Shapley value in Bertrand oligopoly TU-games with Shubik's demand functions By Dongshuang Hou; Theo Driessen; Aymeric Lardon
  7. An Anarchist's reflection on the political economy of everyday life By Boettke, Peter
  8. Econophysics: Bridges over a Turbulent Current By Shu-Heng Chen; Sai-Ping Li
  9. Defying Gravity: The 1932 Imperial Economic Conference and the Reorientation of Canadian Trade By David S. Jacks

  1. By: Boettke, Peter
    Abstract: Deirdre McCloskey’s Bourgeois Dignity (2010) represents another breakthrough work in her career, and the second volume in a multi-volume work on the economic and intellectual history of western civilization. In a sense, the subtitle of the book explains well what this volume is all about--why economics can’t explain the modern world. An important modifier would be – modern economics can’t explain the modern world – because much of what McCloskey argues is the resurrection of an older argument that was associated with classical liberal political economists from Smith, Bastiat, Mises, Hayek and Friedman. Fundamentally, she reasserts the power of ideas to shape the world. McCloskey’s narrative is simple and compelling -- materialist stories (whether technological, genetic, or institutional) do not work; incentive based stories do not provide a complete picture of why some countries grew rich while others remained poor, let alone for the exact timing for the divergence in the wealth and poverty of nations with the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th century. McCloskey proposes that incentive based explanations must reside within a broader narrative that addresses values and beliefs, as well as institutions, technologies, and material conditions. In doing so, McCloskey paves the way for a true behavioral approach to a political and economic inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations.
    Keywords: Economic History; Economic Development; Industrial Revolution
    JEL: O10 N00 P10
    Date: 2011
  2. By: Kakarot-Handtke, Egmont
    Abstract: The quantity theory is disjunct to the hard core of general equilibrium theory. It does not relate to the formal foundations of standard economics and, vice versa, from the behavioral axioms of standard economics a rationale for using money cannot be derived. The present paper leaves the standard axioms aside and reconstructs the quantity theory from entirely new structural axiomatic foundations. This gives a coherent view of the interrelations of quantity of money, transaction money, saving–dissaving, liquidity–illiquidity, rates of interest, leverage, allocation, prices, profits, unit of account, and employment.
    Keywords: New framework of concepts; Structure-centric; Axiom set; Money-credit symmetry; Endogeneity; Accommodation; Neutrality; Store of value; Overlapping generations; Full gold-backing; Declarative changes of the unit of account; Contract equation; Perfect inflation; Real balance effect
    JEL: E10 E40 E20
    Date: 2011–07–26
  3. By: Rothe, Jorn
    Abstract: This paper formulates a rationality concept for extensive games in which deviations from rational play are interpreted as evidence of irrationality. Instead of confirming some prior belief about the nature of nonrational play, we assume that such a deviation leads to genuine uncertainty. Assuming complete ignorance about the nature of non-rational play and extreme uncertainty aversion of the rational players, we formulate an equilibrium concept on the basis of Choquet expected utility theory. Equilibrium reasoning is thus only applied on the equilibrium path, maximin reasoning applies off the equilibrium path. The equilibrium path itself is endogenously determined. In general this leads to strategy profiles differ qualitatively from sequential equilibria, but still satisfy equilibrium and perfection requirements. In the centipede game and the finitely repeated prisoners’ dilemma this approach can also resolve the backward induction paradox.
    Date: 2011
  4. By: Szirmai, Adam (UNU-MERIT, and Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, Maastricht University)
    Abstract: This paper was prepared for the Angus Maddison Memorial conference, held in November 2010 at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. The paper reflects on Angus Maddison's contributions to development economics. It focuses on the following issues: 1. quantification in development economics and the framework of proximate and ultimate causality in growth and development; 2 the debate about levels of GDP per capita in the middle of the eighteenth century; 3 Maddison versus the Malthusians; 4 measurement of Chinese Economic Performance in the long run; 5. the impact of Western expansion on the non-Western world and 6. the role of institutions in economic development.
    Keywords: Economic Growth, Development Economics, GDP per capita, China, Western Expansion, Institutions
    JEL: N10 O10
    Date: 2011
  5. By: Punabantu, Siize
    Abstract: The recent earthquake in Japan and its impact on the Fukushima nuclear power plant is a tragic reminder of humanity’s ever growing dependence on energy for its socioeconomic development. Energy plays a central role in determining the effectiveness of economics. However, are the fundamental difficulties associated with understanding the true nature of energy impeding development? This paper is a reflection on theoretical physics from an economic vantage point. As difficult as it may seem to band them together as this article will attempt to do, physics and economics are conjoined. Space, Time , Matter and Energy all play a significant role in the capacity of economics to better provide for humanity. For example, energy; its, provision, evolution and consumption play a significant role in the capacity of economics to develop strategies with which to satisfactorily manage human development. The impact the price of oil has on the global economy is testimony to the impact the cost of energy has on economies and governments in general. If global incomes could rise or the cost of energy could fall this could significantly increase its affordability. Therefore, advances in physics and the natural sciences in general can have a positive impact on economics.
    Keywords: Scarcity; money; money supply; energy; zero cost energy; open market operations; resource creation; economic thought; poverty; wealth; cost; market efficiency; supply; demand; money; price; time; space; matter; mark-up; cost plus pricing; rationality; operating level economics; economic growth; paradox
    JEL: Q32 Q38 B40 A20 Q42 Q40 C70 A10
    Date: 2011–07–26
  6. By: Dongshuang Hou (Department of Applied Mathematics [Twente] - University of Twente); Theo Driessen (Department of Applied Mathematics [Twente] - University of Twente); Aymeric Lardon (GATE Lyon Saint-Etienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS : UMR5824 - Université Lumière - Lyon II - École Normale Supérieure de Lyon)
    Abstract: The Bertrand Oligopoly situation with Shubik's demand functions is modelled as a cooperative TU game. For that purpose two optimization problems are solved to arrive at the description of the worth of any coalition in the so-called Bertrand Oligopoly Game. Under certain circumstances, this Bertrand oligopoly game has clear affinities with the well-known notion in statistics called variance with respect to the distinct marginal costs. This Bertrand Oligopoly Game is shown to be totally balanced, but fails to be convex unless all the firms have the same marginal costs. Under the complementary circumstances, the Bertrand Oligopoly Game is shown to be convex and in addition, its Shapley value is fully determined on the basis of linearity applied to an appealing decomposition of the Bertrand Oligopoly Game into the difference between two convex games, besides two nonessential games. One of these two essential games concerns the square of one non- essential game.
    Keywords: Bertrand Oligopoly situation, Bertrand Oligopoly Game, Convexity, Shapley Value, Total Balancedness.
    Date: 2011
  7. By: Boettke, Peter
    Abstract: James Scott has written a detailed ethnography on the lives of the peoples of upland Southeast Asia who choose to escape oppressive government by living at the edge of their civilization. To the political economist the fascinating story told by Scott provides useful narratives in need of analytical exposition. There remains in this work a “plea for mechanism”; the mechanisms that enable social cooperation to emerge among individuals living outside the realm of state control. Social cooperation outside the formal rules of governance, nevertheless require “rules” of social intercourse, and techniques of “enforcement” to ensure the disciplining of opportunistic behavior.
    Keywords: economic development; self-regulation; political economy; peasant economy
    JEL: O17 P48
    Date: 2011
  8. By: Shu-Heng Chen; Sai-Ping Li
    Abstract: In this editorial guide for the special issue on econophysics, we give a unique review of this young but quickly growing discipline. A suggestive taxonomy of the development is proposed by making a distinction between classical econophysics and modern econophysics. For each of these two stages of development, we identify the key economic issues whose formulations and/or treatments have been affected by physics or physicists, which includes value, business fluctuations, economic growth, economic and financial time series, the distribution of economic entities, interactions of economic agents, and economic and social networks. The recent advancements in these issues of modern econophysics are demonstrated by nine articles selected from the papers presented at the Econophysics Colloquium 2010 held at Academia Sinica in Taipei.
    Date: 2011–07
  9. By: David S. Jacks
    Abstract: In the wake of the Great Depression, the Canadian government embarked on a stunning reversal in its commercial policy. A key element of its response was the promotion of intra-imperial trade at the Imperial Economic Conference of 1932. This paper addresses whether or not Canadian trade was able to defy gravity and divert trade flows towards other signatories at Ottawa. The results strongly suggest that the conference was a failure from the Canadian perspective. Potential sources of this failure include unreasonable expectations about the likely reductions in trade costs and a neglect of key considerations related to certainty and credibility.
    JEL: F1 N7
    Date: 2011–07

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