nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2015‒02‒11
twenty-two papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. A Brief History of International Trade Thought: From Pre-doctrinal Contributions to Contemporary Neoclassical Economics By Carmen Elena Dorobat
  2. Some International Aspects of Business Cycles: Neisser, Haberler and Modern Open Economy Macroeconomics By Hans-Michael Trautwein
  3. What have economists been doing for the last 50 years? A text analysis of published academic research from 1960-2010 By Kosnik, Lea-Rachel
  4. Becoming Applied: The Transformation of Economics after 1970 By Roger E. Backhouse; Beatrice Cherrier
  5. Théories et concepts fondamentaux de l'histoire de la pensée économique By Keita, Moussa
  6. Rethinking Nudges By Mongin , Philippe; Cozic , Mikaël
  7. Truthful Equilibria in Dynamic Bayesian Games By Johannes Horner; Satoru Takahashi; Nicolas Vieille
  8. L’indice de richesse inclusive : l’économie Mainstream au-delà de ses limites, mais en deçà de la soutenabilité ? By Géraldine THIRY; Philippe ROMAN
  9. Two-Faced Status Of History: Between The Humanities And Social Sciences By Irina Savelieva
  10. Die politische Ökonomie des Entscheidungsdesigns: Kann Paternalismus liberal sein? By Schnellenbach, Jan
  11. Credit availability 20 years after Peek and Rosengren: panel discussion By Rosengren, Eric S.; Peek, Joe
  12. Russian Political Economy from Utopia to Social Engineering: An Introduction By Akhabbar, Amanar; Allisson, Francois
  13. Money, well-being and loss aversion: does an income loss have a greater effect on well-being than an equivalent income gain? By James Banks; Gordon D.A. Brown; Christopher J. Boyce; Alex M. Wood; Andrew E. Clark
  14. Networks of Rights in Conflict: A Talmudic Example By Barry O'Neill
  15. Determining Social Capital by Social Accounting By Peter Friedrich
  16. "The Repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and the Federal Reserve's Extraordinary Intervention during the Global Financial Crisis" By Yeva Nersisyan
  17. What understanding of capital for tomorrow?. By Gaël Giraud
  18. Political Economy of Macroeconomic Policymaking: Economic Crises and Technocratic Governance By Stephen B. Kaplan
  19. Social comparisons, health and well-being By Andrew E. Clark
  20. Global liquidity regulation - Why did it take so long? By Clemens Bonner; Paul Hilbers
  21. The rewards of an ethical culture By Baxter, Thomas C.
  22. Contradictions at work: a critical review By Patrick McGovern

  1. By: Carmen Elena Dorobat (University of Angers)
    Abstract: The present paper outlines the development of international trade thought, from the pre-doctrinal contributions of Greek philosophers and scholastic theologians, through the theories of the first schools of economic thought, and up to modern trade theories. I follow filiations of ideas in a chronological order, and show how theoretical investigation into the causes and effects of international trade - and the necessity of government intervention - has evolved over centuries of economic thought.
    Keywords: international trade, history of economic thought
    JEL: F10 B10 B20
    Date: 2014–10
  2. By: Hans-Michael Trautwein (University of Oldenburg - International Economics & ZenTra)
    Abstract: Despite the transnational character of the Great Depression of the years 1929-33, there are few works in the inter-war literature that deal in depth with the propagation of business cycles across national borders and systemic risks of depression in the world economy. Two notable exceptions are Hans Neisser’s monograph on Some International Aspects of the Business Cycle (1936) and chapter 12 in Gottfried Haberler’s Prosperity and Depression (1937), which carries the heading “International Aspects of Business Cycles”. Both works differ substantially from each other and from the modern way of thinking about international business cycles in Open Economy Macroeconomics. This paper argues that Neisser’s and Haberler’s approaches provide more straightforward routes to capturing some of the transnational aspects of the recent Great Recession (of 2008/09) than the modern standard approach. At the first stage, the two older approaches are presented and compared with each other. At the second stage, they are contrasted with the current state of open-economy macroeconomics, as represented by Uribe & Schmitt-Grohé (2014), a textbook in the making that puts international macro in a business cycle framework. Since Haberler’s account accentuates the role of transport costs, imperfections of capital markets and monetary policies, it can be used as a catalogue of criteria for checking what modern attempts to connect international trade, international finance and economic growth have got (back) in sight. More importantly, both Haberler’s and Neisser’s approach also serve to identify what has been lost out of sight.
    Keywords: international business cycles, open economy macroeconomics, Hans Neisser, Gottfried Haberler
    JEL: B22 E32 F41 F44
    Date: 2015–02
  3. By: Kosnik, Lea-Rachel
    Abstract: This paper presents the results of a text based exploratory study of over 20,000 academic articles published in seven top research journals from 1960-2010. The goal is to investigate the general research foci of economists over the last fifty years, how (if at all) they have changed over time, and what trends (if any) can be discerned from a broad body of the top academic research in the field. Of the 19 JEL-code based fields studied in the literature, most have retained a constant level of attention over the time period of this study, however, a notable exception is that of macroeconomics which has undergone a significantly diminishing level of research attention in the last couple of decades, across all the journals under study; at the same time, the "microfoundations" of macroeconomic papers appears to be increasing. Other results are also presented.
    Keywords: text analysis,economics research,research diversity,topic analysis
    JEL: A11 B4
    Date: 2015
  4. By: Roger E. Backhouse; Beatrice Cherrier
    Abstract: Abstract: This paper conjectures that economics has changed profoundly since the 1970s and that these changes involve a new understanding of the relationship between theoretical and applied work. Drawing on an analysis of John Bates Clark medal winners, it is suggested that the discipline became more applied, applied work be ing accorded a higher st atus in relation to pure theory than was previously the case. Discussing new types of applied work, the changing context of applied work, and new sites for applied work, the paper outlines a research agenda that will test the conjecture that there has been a changed understanding of the nature of applied work and hence of economics itself.
    Keywords: Applied economics, theory, Clark Medal, JEL codes, core, policy, computation, data, econometrics
    JEL: A10 B20 B40 C00
    Date: 2014
  5. By: Keita, Moussa
    Abstract: Without any pretension of exhaustiveness, this manuscript revisits, in a historical approach, the main concepts that have contributed to forge economic science in the last five centuries. In this respect, It retraces the great schools of thought and doctrines that have developed successively or that coexisted sometimes with oppositions and debates whose terms are still alive. Written intentionally in a pedagogical style, the manuscript is aimed at a broad public; primarily for students and teachers in the first university cycles of Economics but also to anyone wishing to enhance their knowledge on doctrinal and ideological foundations of many contemporary economic questions.
    Keywords: Histoire de la pensée économique
    JEL: B00
    Date: 2015–02
  6. By: Mongin , Philippe; Cozic , Mikaël
    Abstract: Nudge is a semantically multifarious concept that originates in Thaler and Sunstein's (2008) popular eponymous book. In one of its senses, it is a policy for redirecting an agent's choices by only slightly altering his choice conditions, in another sense, it is concerned with bounded rationality as a means of the policy, and in still another sense, it is concerned with bounded rationality as an obstacle to be removed by the policy, when the latter has a benevolent aim. The paper centres on the interrelations, both semantic and factual, of these three nudge concepts. It argues that the first and second are basically disconnected on Thaler and Sunstein's major examples of nudges, and that this has gone unnoticed to them because they wrongly equate the second with the third concept, and also because they overestimate the explanatory power of behavioural economics, compared with that of classical rational choice theory, to account for successful interventions. After completing this analysis, the paper moves to some of the normative issues raised by Thaler and Sunstein. Their thought-provoking claim that liberalism and paternalism can be reconciled within one and the same doctrine of social ethics - libertarian paternalism – has been subjected to thorough philosophical criticism. Rather than following this abstract line, the paper takes the shortcut of arguing that Thaler and Sunstein lose their best defence of libertarian paternalism after the nudge concepts are disentangled. They had effectively based their case on the view that slight interventions could have powerful effects through a clever use of bounded rationality, and it has been shown that the latter is not really at work in the interventions they consider. The paper finally concludes that the three nudge concepts are worth pursuing, though independently of each other, and in particular that the third one, which involves correcting the pitfalls of bounded rationality, should receive sustained attention from policy analysts.
    Keywords: nudge; liberal paternalism; policy analysis; law and economics; behavioural economics; rational choice theory; Thaler and Sunstein
    JEL: D03 D18 D70 K32 K39 M38
    Date: 2014–10–31
  7. By: Johannes Horner (Cowles Foundation, Yale University); Satoru Takahashi (National University of Singapore); Nicolas Vieille (HEC Paris)
    Abstract: This paper characterizes an equilibrium payoff subset for dynamic Bayesian games as discounting vanishes. Monitoring is imperfect, transitions may depend on actions, types may be correlated and values may be interdependent. The focus is on equilibria in which players report truthfully. The characterization generalizes that for repeated games, reducing the analysis to static Bayesian games with transfers. With independent private values, the restriction to truthful equilibria is without loss, except for the punishment level; if players withhold their information during punishment-like phases, a folk theorem obtains.
    Keywords: Bayesian games, Repeated games, Folk theorem
    JEL: C72 C73
    Date: 2013–12
  8. By: Géraldine THIRY (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES)); Philippe ROMAN (Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Centre International REEDS)
    Abstract: L'Indice de richesse inclusive est issu de la théorie économique standard de la soutenabilité, entendue comme préservation d'une somme pondérée de capitaux censés contribuer au bien-être intergénérationnel. Cet indicateur semble voué à occuper une place importante dans la poursuite d'un développement soutenable, notamment dans les pays en développement. Si l'indicateur séduit par son élégance et sa portée, il n'en pose pas moins des problèmes méthodologiques, épistémologiques et politiques majeurs. Nous proposons une analyse critique de l'indicateur et du cadre théorique sur lequel il s'appuie, en mettant l'accent sur l'économicisme qui le caractérise sous les dehors d'une théorie rénovée et débarrassée de ses oripeaux néoclassiques les plus injustifiables. The Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI) is built upon mainstream sustainability economics, where sustainability is defined as a weighted sum of capital assets according to their supposed contribution to intergenerational wellbeing. The IWI will likely play an important role in the pursuit of sustainable development. While the IWI's elegance and scope are attractive features, major methodological, epistemological and political problems remain. We critically assess the indicator and its underlying theoretical framework. We specifically address the economism of a framework that seems relieved of its most unwarranted neoclassical assumptions.
    Keywords: indicateurs de soutenabilité, indicateur de richesse inclusive, économie écologique, économicisme,nouvelle économie des ressources sustainability indicators, inclusive wealth index, ecological economics, economism, new resource economics
  9. By: Irina Savelieva (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
    Abstract: In modern academia, history is occasionally classified as a social science. My aim is to demonstrate why history has not become a ‘real’ social science, although historians who represent the most advanced trends within the discipline aspired to this. Two-faced status of history is problematized as a conflict between social theory and historical method when historians adopt the theories of the social sciences. I consider two topics to be central here: the uneasy relationship between social theories and methods, and the indispensability of the cognitive potential of the humanities. Although historians have sought theoretical renewal by turning to the theories of various social sciences, they rarely could use techniques that represent ways of cognition normally used by sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, etc. – psychometric testing, sociometric monitoring, ethnographic description, in-depth interview, long-term observation. This situation has undeniable positive effects. The impossibility of using social science techniques ensures the autonomy of history and enables it to preserve its disciplinary core. At the same time, dealing with meanings and using the cognitive methods of the humanities, history can catch things more ephemeral than trends, patterns, mechanisms and statistical rules.
    Keywords: the humanities, social sciences, history, theory, method, symbolic interactionism, cultural interpretation, vague theories
    JEL: Z
    Date: 2014
  10. By: Schnellenbach, Jan
    Abstract: Das Konzept des sogenannten "liberalen" oder "libertären" Paternalismus wird in der akademischen Debatte zunehmend kontrovers diskutiert und findet gleichzeitig immer mehr das Interesse politischer Praktiker. Dieser Beitrag argumentiert, dass es sich beim neuen Paternalismus nicht um ein liberales Konzept handelt. Zunächst wird in einer kurzen theoriegeschichtlichen Zusammenfassung gezeigt, welchen Weg die Ökonomik von traditionellen homo oeconomicus zur modernen Verhaltensökonomik zurückgelegt hat und wieso aus dieser heutigen Perspektive die Frage nach der Effizienz paternalistischer Interventionen naheliegend ist. Darauf aufbauend werden grundsätzliche Probleme paternalistischer Ansätze diskutiert und es wird gezeigt, dass diese Ansätze mit zwei fundamentalen Eigenschaften einer liberalen Politik nicht vereinbar sind, nämlich dem Respekt für die Autonomie heterogener Individuen und der Offenheit für ökonomischen und gesellschaftlichen Wandel.
    Abstract: The concept of libertarian paternalism is already the subject of an increasingly intense academic debate. At the same time, it is gaining popularity among political practitioners. This paper argues that, contrary to its own claims, libertarian paternalism conflicts with basic principles of classical liberalism. The paper starts with a short summary of the development economics has taken from classical homo economicus to modern behavioral economics, and goes on to show why the search for efficient paternalist interventions is seemingly plausible from the perspective of behavioral economics. The argument continues with a discussion of some fundamental problems of libertarian paternalism, and it is shown that paternalism, also of the libertarian kind, is conflicting with two tenets of classical liberalism: autonomy of heterogeneous individuals and openness for long-term processes of economic and societal change.
    Date: 2015
  11. By: Rosengren, Eric S. (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston); Peek, Joe (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)
    Abstract: Remarks by Eric S. Rosengren, President and Chief Executive Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and Joe Peek, Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, to the International Banking, Economics, and Finance Association and American Economic Association, Boston, Massachusetts, January 3, 2015.
    Date: 2015–01–03
  12. By: Akhabbar, Amanar; Allisson, Francois
    Abstract: In September 2009, the editors of this special issue organized at Lausanne University a Workshop on the History of Russian Political Economy and Statistics at the turn of the 20th century. When preparing a call for paper for this journal, the editors realized that papers presented at the Lausanne Workshop addressed implicitly or explicitly questions about how to combine Economic Theory, Social Engineering and Utopia. The contributions contained in this issue suggest various possible configurations between these three categories of scientific inquiry.
    Keywords: Russia; Russian Political Economy;Political Economy; Utopia; Social Engineering;
    JEL: B1 B2 B3 B4
    Date: 2014–01
  13. By: James Banks; Gordon D.A. Brown; Christopher J. Boyce; Alex M. Wood; Andrew E. Clark
    Abstract: Higher income is associated with greater well-being, but do income gains and losses impact on well-being differently? Loss aversion, whereby losses loom larger than gains, is typically examined with relation to decisions about anticipated outcomes. Here, using subjective well-being data from Germany (N = 28,723) and the UK (N = 20,570), we find that experienced falls in income have a larger impact on well-being than equivalent income gains. The effect is not explained by the diminishing returns to well-being of income. Our findings show that loss aversion applies to experienced losses, counteracting suggestions that loss aversion is only an affective forecasting error. Longitudinal studies of the income/well-being relationship may, by failing to take account of loss aversion, have overestimated the positive effect of income for well-being. Moreover, societal well-being may be best served by small and stable income increases even if such stability impairs long-term growth.
    Keywords: loss aversion; money; income; subjective well-being
    JEL: J1
    Date: 2014–01
  14. By: Barry O'Neill
    Abstract: Many disputes involve conflicts of rights. A common view is that rights cannot really be in conflict so one of those being claimed must be a mistake. This idea leads to extreme outcomes that cut some parties out. Many studies have investigated how to choose a compromise among rights but they have focus on situations where the incompatibility comes from the degrees of the claims, as when, for example, a deceased person promised his heirs more than his total estate. I analyze a Talmudic problem where the difficulty is the pattern of the rights - each one trumps another in a cycle. The theory of non-transferable utility coalitional games suggests two solutions, one based on Shapley's and Maschler-Owen's values, which are equivalent for the problem, and the other on Harsanyi's and Kalai-Samet's, also equivalent. Each satisfies four out of five desirable properties, better than several other solutions. The NTU games are appropriate not just for power-based negotiation but for disputes over justice, fairness and rights. It is hoped that this analysis will form part of a general understanding of rights conflicts.
    Date: 2014–12
  15. By: Peter Friedrich (University of Tartu, Estonia)
    Abstract: Although social capital has been often debated in the last 20 years, there is a widely accepted definition missing and the approaches to measure its size are not very developed. Therefore, the definitions of social capital are stated and analysed, whether they are appropriately designed also for measurement purposes. We end up with a division between capital consisting of real capital as fixed and working capital and financial capital on the one hand and capitals, which are referring to human capital and social capital in a narrow sense on the other hand. The last two are named here as social capital. The stock of the first kind of capital can be expressed as net capital when the liabilities are deducted is booked to the final social balance as well as the remainder of the stock accounts. The stock of the second one can be identified as social assets reduced by social liabilities. Non-commercial values of economic activities are gathered in social accounting. With social accounting exist several approaches, however most of them are not developed to such an extent that the social capital can be determined through an adequate ex-post analysis. A welfare economic oriented approach comprising a bookkeeping system helps to determine social capital. Based on the willingness to pay approach a commercial bookkeeping system and an additional social bookkeeping were designed where the respective “private” and additional social capital were verified. Both together show the total social capital related to an economic subject. The result is illustrated by such a social accounting for the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of the University of Tartu for 2006. The author discusses the limits and possibilities of this kind of social capital determination.
    Keywords: Social capital; Social success; Social accounting; Ex-post Analysis
    JEL: D1 D6 D61 M41 O15 Z13
    Date: 2015–01
  16. By: Yeva Nersisyan
    Abstract: Before the global financial crisis, the assistance of a lender of last resort was traditionally thought to be limited to commercial banks. During the crisis, however, the Federal Reserve created a number of facilities to support brokers and dealers, money market mutual funds, the commercial paper market, the mortgage-backed securities market, the triparty repo market, et cetera. In this paper, we argue that the elimination of specialized banking through the eventual repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act (GSA) has played an important role in the leakage of the public subsidy intended for commercial banks to nonbank financial institutions. In a specialized financial system, which the GSA had helped create, the use of the lender-of-last-resort safety net could be more comfortably limited to commercial banks. However, the elimination of GSA restrictions on bank-permissible activities has contributed to the rise of a financial system where the lines between regulated and protected banks and the so-called shadow banking system have become blurred. The existence of the shadow banking universe, which is directly or indirectly guaranteed by banks, has made it practically impossible to confine the safety to the regulated banking system. In this context, reforming the lender-of-last-resort institution requires fundamental changes within the financial system itself.
    Keywords: Banks; Central Banking; Deregulation; Federal Reserve; Financial Crises; Glass-Steagall Act; Lender of Last Resort; Minsky; Regulation; Securitization; Shadow Banking
    JEL: B50 E50 E58 G10 G18
    Date: 2015–01
  17. By: Gaël Giraud (Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne - Paris School of Economics)
    Abstract: This paper discusses the thesis put forward by Piketty (2014a) stressing the risk of an explosion of wealth inequality because capital accumulates faster than labor income in several countries, especially in the U.US. Although the overall empirical conclusion on the rise of inequalities is indisputable, I point out that the economic modeling underlying this approach exhibits several important shortcomings. Moreover, there are more effective policy recommendations to fight against inequality than the one highlighted in the book —namely, a world-wide global tax on capital.
    Keywords: Capital, capitalism, inequality, Kaldor, Solow, capital tax.
    JEL: B22 B4 H20 N10
    Date: 2014–09
  18. By: Stephen B. Kaplan (Department of Economics/Institute for International Economic Policy, George Washington University)
    Abstract: How do economic crisis a§ect national-level policy choices? Are technocratic advisors more likely to enter government during periods of severe economic volatility? If so, how does such governance a§ect economic policymaking and social responsiveness? In this paper, I evaluate the role of technocratic advisors on Latin American reforms. Building on the political psy- chology literature, I argue that collective crisis memories in technocratic communities have a disproportionate inaÌuence on elite-level policymaking. Employing an originally constructed data index, the Index of Economic Advisors, I conduct a large-N cross-national test from 1960-2011 to examine whether economic crises lead to more technocrats serving in presidential cabinets, and Önd that crises often professionalize presidential teams. The statistical results also show that technocratsiÌgovernance approaches are conditioned by the nature of past shocks. An in- aÌationary crisis history makes budget austerity more likely. DeaÌationary spirals have been far less common in Latin America, but comparative case study evidence of Argentina in the early 2000s shows that these shocks often catalyze sustained Öscal expansion. This investigation has signiÖcant implications for the study of democracy and development. Technocratic governance might help provide economic stability following crises, but an enduring political focus on past crises can limit policy aÌexibility and social responsiveness.
    Keywords: Political Economy, Development, Austerity, Latin America, Economic Crises, Political Psychology, Technocrats, Fiscal Policy, Macroeconomic Policy
    JEL: B22 E31 E60 E62 E65 H30 H60 N16 O54 O57
  19. By: Andrew E. Clark
    Abstract: Health and well-being are socially determined. One of the ways in which this comes about is via social comparisons with other individuals in the same personal, geographic or social networks, with the comparisons referring either to income or other aspects of economic and social life. The existence of such comparison effects with respect to income may help to explain the social gradient in health.
    Keywords: well-being; comparisons; income; unemployment; divorce; religion; social health gradient
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2013–08
  20. By: Clemens Bonner; Paul Hilbers
    Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to assess the history of global liquidity regulation until the revised Basel III proposals in 2013 and to analyze the interaction of capital regulation and banks' liquidity buffers. Our analysis suggests that regulating capital is associated with declining liquidity uffers. The interaction of liquidity regulation and monetary policy as well as the view that regulating capital also addresses liquidity risks were important factors hampering harmonized liquidity regulation. It appears that crisis-related supervisory momentum is an important factor behind most agreements on regulatory harmonization. In line with that, the drying up of funding and the subsequent liquidity problems during the 2007-08 financial crisis played a large role in the development of the Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) and Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSFR).
    Keywords: Regulation; Policy; Liquidity; Banks
    JEL: G18 G21 E42
    Date: 2015–01
  21. By: Baxter, Thomas C. (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)
    Abstract: Remarks at the Bank of England, London.
    Keywords: financial crime; incentives
    JEL: D21 G02 K42
    Date: 2015–01–20
  22. By: Patrick McGovern
    Abstract: Despite significant achievements in empirical research, considerable unease exists about the lack of conceptual and theoretical debate within the sociology of work. One potentially significant problem is the uncritical use of concepts that have their origins in Marxism and purport to explain the essential features of the employment relationship. Using evidence from a systematic review of four highly ranked British journals I chart the growing influence of the concept of contradiction, notably within the labour process perspective where it has become a key concept, especially in relation to the problem of labour control. In spite of its popularity, I argue that the concept contains two sets of flaws. The first set, which relate to its utility as a concept, include problems of logic, differentiation and operationalization. The second set relate to the substantive use of the concept, especially its dependence on supporting assumptions, and its expectation of social change. The article concludes by calling for a moratorium on further usage.
    Keywords: concept redundancy; concept stretching; contradiction; labour control; labour process; Marxism; qualitative research
    JEL: R14 J01
    Date: 2014–02

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