nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2012‒11‒17
fourteen papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Ragnar Frisch’s Axiomatic Approach to Econometrics By Bjerkholt, Olav
  2. Comparative Economic Systems: A Brief Review By Shaikh, Salman
  3. Visualizing Uncertainties, or how Albert Hirschman and the World Bank disagreed on project appraisal and development approaches By Alacevich, Michele
  4. Schumpeter and Georgescu-Roegen on the Foundations of an Evolutionary Analysis By Christoph Heinzel
  5. Some Key Differences between a Happy Life and a Meaningful Life By Baumeister, Roy F.; Vohs, Kathleen D.; Aaker, Jennifer L.; Garbinsky, Emily N.
  6. A Foundation for Markov Equilibria in Infinite Horizon Perfect Information Games By V. Bhaskar; George J. Mailath; Stephen Morris
  7. The new developmentalism as a weberian ideal type By Pereira, Luiz C. Bresser (Luiz Carlos Bresser)
  8. The four figures of gift: kula, potlatch, dan e hau By Matteo Aria; Nicolò Bellanca
  9. The Federal Reserve’s response to the financial crisis: what it did and what it should have done By Daniel L. Thornton
  10. " L'économie des discriminations " peut-elle se passer d'une " philosophie économique des discriminations ? " By Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche
  11. Trust and Cheating By Jeffrey Butler; Paola Giuliano; Luigi Guiso
  12. Noblesse Oblige? Moral Identity and Prosocial Behavior in the Face of Selfishness By Dessi, Roberta; Monin, Benoît
  13. Property rights and democratic values in Bronze Age and Archaic Greece By Kyriazis, Nicholas; Economou, Emmanouel/Marios/Lazaros
  14. Multi-unit common value auctions: an experimental comparison between the static and the dynamic uniform auction By Ahlberg, Joakim

  1. By: Bjerkholt, Olav (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)
    Abstract: Ragnar Frisch’s concept of econometrics was broader in scope than the more restricted connotation it has today as a sub-discipline of economics, it may be more properly rendered as a reconstruction of economics along principles inspired and drawn from natural sciences. In this reconstruction an axiomatic approach played a key role. The general aim of Frisch’s axiomatic approach was to argue in favour of using axiomatics as a basis for theorizing in economics and the modelling of individual behaviour. His first axiomatic approach was undertaken in 1926. In 1933 Frisch presented an extended set of axioms for quantifying utility in a lecture series in Paris. Frisch returned yet another time to the same topic when he attended a research conference at Cowles Commission in 1937. He presented then a more general choice-field theory, the core of which was a system of axioms for individual behaviour, published only as a (long) abstract. After this latter attempt Frisch’s interest in explicitly axiomatization seem to have waned, although his promotion of axiomatics in economics may be traced in some other of his contributions. As a national accounting pioneer Frisch also argued for an axiomatic approach towards national accounting. The article is amended from a paper originally presented at Axiomatics in Economics: the Rise and Fall, European Conference on the History of Economics, Siena, 4-6 October, 2007.
    Keywords: Ragnar Frisch; axiomatics
    JEL: B23 B31 B41 D11
    Date: 2012–08–28
  2. By: Shaikh, Salman
    Abstract: This paper analytically compares the theoretical foundations of major economic systems i.e. Capitalism, Socialism, Mixed economy (a hybrid of Capitalism and Socialism) and the Islamic economic system. The research identifies that lack of an ethical base, unbridled pursuit of self interest in production as well as in consumption and interest based financial and monetary system are the major problematic issues in the current economic order. Socialism promises to create heaven on earth, but takes fundamental human rights and profit motive away and in the extreme case, it gives way for an autocratic regime. The paper provides brief outline of Islamic Economics and explains that Islamic economic system is a blend of natural features present in Capitalism i.e. right to private property, private pursuit of economic interest and use of market forces etc. Along with this, Islamic economic system uses some distinct features derived through Islamic economic teachings i.e. Interest free economy, moral check on unbridled self-pursuit and provision of socio-economic justice to achieve the goals of Socialism as far as is naturally possible without denying individual freedom and profit motive.
    Keywords: Economic Systems; Capitalism; Socialism; Communism; Islamic Economic System
    JEL: A13 A14
    Date: 2012–02–28
  3. By: Alacevich, Michele
    Abstract: Since its birth in 1944, the World Bank has had a strong focus on development projects. Yet, it did not have a project evaluation unit until the early 1970s. An early attempt to conceptualize project appraisal had been made in the 1960s by Albert Hirschman, whose undertaking raised high expectations at the Bank. Hirschman's conclusions -- published first in internal Bank reports and then, as a book in 1967 -- disappointed many at the Bank, primarily because they found it impractical. Hirschman wanted to offer the Bank a new vision by transforming the Bank's approach to project design, project management and project appraisal. What the Bank expected from Hirschman, HOWEVER, was not a revolution but an examination of the Bank's projects and advice on how to make project design and management more measurable, controllable, and suitable for replication. The history of this failed collaboration provides useful insights on the unstable equilibrium between operations and evaluation within the Bank. In addition, it shows that the Bank actively participated in the development economics debates of the 1960s. This should be of interest for development economists today who reflect on the future of their discipline emphasizing the need for a non-dogmatic approach to development. It should also be of interest for the Bank itself, which is stressing the importance of evaluation for effective development policies. The history of the practice of development economics, using archival material, can bring new perspectives and help better understand the evolution of this discipline.
    Keywords: Banks&Banking Reform,Public Sector Corruption&Anticorruption Measures,Corporate Law,Development Economics&Aid Effectiveness,Economic Theory&Research
    Date: 2012–11–01
  4. By: Christoph Heinzel
    Abstract: Qualitative change is widely recognized as a defining feature of evolution. Schumpeter and Georgescu-Roegen put it at the center of their methodological reasoning. I revisit important contributions of these two authors, paying attention to the immediate relationship of the major traits and treated issues between their works. With reference to qualitative change, their joint approach provides answers as to (i) why an evolutionary analysis has to necessarily apply a varied less formal set of methods as compared to modern static and dynamic analysis, (ii) why an evolutionary analysis is a necessary component of economic analysis, and (iii) how it can be seen as complementary to modern statics and dynamics. They argued for methodogical pluralism, where the choice of methods shall derive from close observation of the subject matter under scrutiny. Georgescu-Roegen's reasoning shows the necessity of interdisciplinary contributions and the interrelation of economic activity and environmental impact and constraints, putting environmental issues immediately on the evolutionary economics agenda. The paper provides a new ground for evaluating Georgescu-Roegen's own and their joint contribution to modern research.
    Keywords: Schumpeter, Georgescu-Roegen, qualitative change, evolution, evolutionary methodology
    JEL: B25 B31 B41 O10
    Date: 2012
  5. By: Baumeister, Roy F. (FL State University); Vohs, Kathleen D. (University of MN); Aaker, Jennifer L. (Stanford University); Garbinsky, Emily N. (Stanford University)
    Abstract: Being happy and finding life meaningful overlap, but there are important differences. A large survey revealed multiple differing predictors of happiness (controlling for meaning) and meaningfulness (controlling for happiness). Satisfying one's needs and wants increased happiness but was largely irrelevant to meaningfulness. Happiness was largely present-oriented, whereas meaningfulness involves integrating past, present, and future. For example, thinking about future and past was associated with high meaningfulness but low happiness. Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness. Concerns with personal identity and expressing the self-contributed to meaning but not happiness. We offer brief composite sketches of the unhappy but meaningful life and of the happy but meaningless life.
    Date: 2012–10
  6. By: V. Bhaskar (Department of Economics, University College, London); George J. Mailath (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania); Stephen Morris (Department of Economics, Princeton University)
    Abstract: We study perfect information games with an infinite horizon played by an arbitrary number of players. This class of games includes infinitely repeated perfect information games, repeated games with asynchronous moves, games with long and short run players, games with overlapping generations of players, and canonical non-cooperative models of bargaining. We consider two restrictions on equilibria. An equilibrium is purifiable if close by behavior is consistent with equilibrium when agents' payoffs at each node are perturbed additively and independently. An equilibrium has bounded recall if there exists K such that at most one player's strategy depends on what happened more than K periods earlier. We show that only Markov equilibria have bounded memory and are purifiable. Thus if a game has at most one long-run player, all purifiable equilibria are Markov.
    Keywords: Markov, bounded recall, purification
    JEL: C72 C73
    Date: 2012–10–29
  7. By: Pereira, Luiz C. Bresser (Luiz Carlos Bresser)
    Abstract: New developmentalism may be seen as a specific set of policies (a national development strategy), or as a broader the theory behind (structuralist development economics) and the corresponding developmental state. Seen in the later sense, as Weberian ideal type, this paper compares new developmentalism with old developmentalism and with liberal orthodoxy. This paper was written in honor of Roberto Frenkel, in 70 years Festrischt.
    Date: 2012–10–29
  8. By: Matteo Aria; Nicolò Bellanca (Università degli Studi di Firenze)
    Abstract: Drawing on actual reinterpretation of Mauss’s classical essay on “the Gift”, the authors examine four ideal-typical forms of gift which recur in the anthropologic literature, and theoretically analyze them under relevant contemporary phenomena. Kula - as reciprocity gift-, Potlach – as competitive gift-, Hau – as non-returnable gift - and Dan - as asymmetrical gift- do not have in common something that allows us to use the same term for all, however they are tied to each other in many different ways. There is a complicate net of similarities that overlap and cross one another. According with this perspective the “gift” appears as a polythetic and polisemic concept: it is crucial tools in the understanding contemporary societies, cultures and economies as well as useful starting point for a new dialogue between anthropologists and economists.
    Keywords: gift; commodification; special currency
    JEL: Z13 B52 O10
    Date: 2012
  9. By: Daniel L. Thornton
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the Federal Reserve’s major policy actions in response to the financial crisis. The analysis is divided into the pre-Lehman and post-Lehman monetary policies. Specifically, I describe the pre- and post-Lehman monetary policy actions that I believe were appropriate and those that were not. I then describe the monetary policy actions the Fed should have taken and why those actions would have fostered better financial market and economic outcomes. Had these actions been taken, the Fed’s balance sheet would have returned to normal and the FOMC’s target for the federal funds rate would be a level consistent with a positive real rate and an inflation target of 2 percent.
    Keywords: Federal Reserve banks ; Monetary policy ; Financial crises
    Date: 2012
  10. By: Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Paris I - Panthéon Sorbonne)
    Abstract: A la suite des travaux de Gary S. Becker, un ensemble de contributions théoriques s'est consacré à la description, à l'explication et à la mesure de la dynamique inégalitaire des discriminations - cela dans une perspective essentiellement " positive ". Le modèle " préférence-commerce " de Becker et les mod`les de la discrimination statistique apportent deux réponses différentes à la question de l'efficacité économique du comportement discriminatoire. Inefficace - par hypothèse - dans le modèle de Becker, la discrimination devient - sous certaines conditions - efficace dans le cas des modèles de "discrimination statistique". Or, une discrimination, même efficace, reste une discrimination au sens juridique (voire éthique). La base normative implicite que constitue le critère d'efficacité entre ainsi en contradiction avec le principe de non-discrimination. Le critère d'efficacité économique n'est donc pas suffisant d'un double point de vue : 1) il ne suffit pas à produire une analyse positive des discriminations qui prenne en charge la complexité du phénomène ; 2) il ne peut servir de base normative pour construire des recommandations de politiques publiques pour lutter contre les discriminations. Une analyse renouvelée doit ainsi se fonder sur deux principes : les agents sont guidés par des normes sociales et non uniquement par des critères économiques ; le principe de non-discrimination doit être jugé supérieur au critère d'efficacité en cas de conflit.
    Keywords: Discrimination; discrimination statistique; critère d'efficacité; philosophie économique; économie normative; économie positive.
    Date: 2012–10
  11. By: Jeffrey Butler (EIEF); Paola Giuliano (University of California-Los Angeles, NBER, CEPR and IZA); Luigi Guiso (EIEF and CEPR)
    Abstract: When we take a cab we may feel cheated if the driver takes an unnecessarily long route despite the lack of a contract or promise to take the shortest possible path. Is our decision to take the cab affected by our belief that we may end up feeling cheated? Is the behavior of the driver affected by his beliefs about what we consider cheating? We address these questions in the context of a trust game by asking participants directly about their notions of cheating. We find that i) both parties to a trust exchange have implicit notions of what constitutes cheating even in a context without promises or messages; ii) these notions are not unique (the vast majority of senders would feel cheated by a negative return on their trust/investment, whereas a sizable minority defines cheating according to an equal split rule); iii) these implicit notions affect the behavior of both sides to the exchange in terms of whether to trust or cheat and to what extent. Finally, we show that individuals' notions of what constitutes cheating can be traced back to two classes of values instilled by parents: cooperative and competitive. The first class of values tends to soften the notion while the other tightens it.
    Date: 2012
  12. By: Dessi, Roberta (IDEI, Toulouse School of Economics); Monin, Benoît (Stanford University)
    Abstract: What makes individuals conform or diverge after observing prosocial or selfish behavior by others? We study experimentally how social comparison (observing a peer’s behavior) interacts with identity motives for cooperation. Participants play two games. We increase the strength of the identity motive by inducing subjects in a treatment condition to infer their identity from behavior in the first game. Cooperators who observe a peer defect donate 28% more to their unknown partner in the second game in the treatment than in the control group. Our results are consistent with the predictions of Bénabou and Tirole (2011), and show that the "suckerto- saint effect" identified by Jordan and Monin (2008) can have important behavioral consequences.
    Keywords: ,
    JEL: A1 A12 D1 D3 D64 Z1
    Date: 2012–11
  13. By: Kyriazis, Nicholas; Economou, Emmanouel/Marios/Lazaros
    Abstract: In the present essay we introduce the concept of macroculture as a complex of mutually supporting values, norms and beliefs in various areas of human activity, like war, religion, politics, athletics, etc. in a model. Then, by applying the concept of bounded rationality, we analyse how some macrocultures that are favorable or the ‘precondition’ for the emergence of democracy and institutions develop, in particular property rights, that foster economic development. We analyze this for Bronze Age and Archaic Greece, as being the historical case where such a macroculture favorable to democracy and stable property rights first emerged. Our main findings indicate that during Mycenaean and Archaic age period, the emergence of various elements of macroculture, in warfare, religion, city-state environment and athletic games evolved into similar proto-democratic values leading to the establishment of democracy as a political phenomenon in Classical Greece.
    Keywords: Macroculture; Democracy; Property rights; Ancient Greece
    JEL: P41 Z12 P48 N40
    Date: 2012–09–06
  14. By: Ahlberg, Joakim (VTI)
    Abstract: It is still an open question whether the dynamic or the static format should be used in multi-unit settings, in a uniform price auction. The present study conducts an economic experiment in a common value environment, where it is found that it is more a question of whether the auctioneer wants to facilitate price discovery, and thereby lessen the otherwise pervasive overbidding, or if only the revenue is important. The experiment in the present paper provides evidence that the static format gives significantly greater revenue than the dynamic auction, in both small and large group sizes. But a higher revenue comes at a cost; half of the auctions in the static format yield negative profits to the bidders, the winner's curse is more severely widespread in the static auction, and only a minority of the bidders use the equilibrium bidding strategy.
    Keywords: Laboratory experiment; Multi-Unit auction; Common value auction
    JEL: C72 C91 D44
    Date: 2012–11–05

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