nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2017‒03‒05
nine papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. The London Monetary and Economic Conference of 1933 and the End of The Great Depression: A “Change of Regime” Analysis By Sebastian Edwards
  2. A composite perspective on British living standards during the Industrial Revolution By Gallardo Albarr
  3. Subjective Wellbeing and Institutions: The Case of Rural Ethiopia By Tsegay Gebrekidan Tekleselassie
  4. Marxismo ecológico: un recuento crítico del estado del arte By Silva Escobar, Daniel
  5. An Economic Theory of Religious Belief By Strulik, Holger
  6. Conceptualizing power in the context of climate change: A multi-theoretical perspective on structure, agency & power relations By Stör, Lorenz
  7. Comment définir le service public à travers ses différentes facettes, missions et principes ? By Lia CAPONETTI; Barbara SAK
  8. Sequential Equilibrium without Rational Expectations of Prices: an Existence Proof By Lionel de BOISDEFFRE
  9. Money and Status: How Best to Incentivize Work By Pradeep Dubey; John Geanakoplos

  1. By: Sebastian Edwards
    Abstract: In this paper I analyze the London Monetary and Economic Conference of 1933, an almost forgotten episode in U.S. monetary history. I study how the Conference shaped dollar policy during the second half of 1933 and early 1934. I use daily data to investigate the way in which the Conference and related policies associated to the gold standard affected commodity prices, bond prices, and the stock market. My results show that the Conference itself did not impact commodity prices or the stock market. However, it had a small effect on bond prices. I do find that the events associated with the abandonment of the gold standard impacted prices in a significant way, even before the actual monetary and currency channels were at work. These results are consistent with the “change in regime” hypothesis of Sargent (1983).
    JEL: B21 B22 B26 E3 E31 E42 F31 N22
    Date: 2017–02
  2. By: Gallardo Albarr (Groningen University)
    Abstract: Few topics in economic history have received more attention than the profound transformations undergone by Great Britain during the 18th and 19th century. Even though the positive outcomes of this process for human living standards nowadays are not disputed, the same does not apply to the century spanning from 1750 to 1850 in Great Britain. Studies looking at key well-being dimensions individually such as income, health, working time and inequality individually often show contradictory evidence. To account for differences in their evolution, this paper presents a new framework grounded on economic theory to integrate them in a single measure and put their development into a broader perspective. I conclude that the new welfare measure does not support the idea of a two-phase process in the evolution of British living standards during the period 1781-1851 which indeed can be observed when considering the individual indicators of income, health or working time separately. The reason for this is that welfare gains came first almost exclusively from health improvements until the 1810s and then from wages (and to a lower extent non-working time). Secondly, the discrepancies between different real wage estimates in the literature appear less substantial in a framework that extends the concept of wellbeing. And thirdly, real wages typically underestimate the extent to which welfare increased over this period. Actually, health might have contributed to an improvement in well-being at least as substantial as the most optimistic estimate of real wages.
    Date: 2016
  3. By: Tsegay Gebrekidan Tekleselassie (Ethiopian Development Research Institute)
    Abstract: This study focuses on the role of religiosity, general and political trust, local participation, and welfare metrics on wellbeing in rural areas using the Ethiopian Rural Household Survey. Ordered probit methods that account for Heteroscedasticity reveal distinctive correlates of overall life satisfaction and momentary happiness. Broader socio-economic factors such as religiosity and political governance strongly predict life satisfaction, while largely welfare metrics drive momentary happiness. The differential role of institutions on life satisfaction and momentary happiness is in comport with Deaton’s (2008) and Stevenson and Wolfers’s (2008) proposition that life satisfaction and happiness are not synonymous.
    Keywords: Institutions, Subjective Wellbeing, Ordered Probit, Developing Countries
    JEL: C25 D60 I31 Z12
    Date: 2017–02
  4. By: Silva Escobar, Daniel (Estudios Nueva Economía)
    Abstract: En el presente documento de trabajo se efectúa una revisión crítica de las principales aportaciones hechas por los autores ligados a la corriente científico-política del marxismo ecológico. En primer lugar, se ensaya una definición de lo que actualmente puede entenderse por marxismo ecológico. En segundo término, se realiza una descripción de las principales teorías y conceptos nacidos a partir de esta corriente, privilegiando aquellas que abordan las temáticas de depredación y contaminación ecosistémicas yendo más allá de la simple interpretación exegética de los textos de Marx y Engels. Finalmente, en tercer lugar, se desarrolla una evaluación crítico-comparativa, provisional, de las distintas teorías y conceptos abordados en la sección dos, haciendo especial énfasis en los tópicos más polémicos y relevantes para la política concreta de nuestra época histórica. In this working paper I undertake a critical review of the main contributions developed by the authors associated with the scientific and political school of thought known as Ecological Marxism. First of all, I try to propose a definition of what can be understood today by Ecological Marxism. Secondly, I describe the main theories and concepts originated by this school of thought, giving preference to those that take into account topics like depletion of resources and pollution, going further than the exegetical interpretation of Marx and Engels. Finally, I develop a critical and comparative evaluation of the different theories and concepts reviewed, emphasizing the most controversial and significant issues related to the concrete politics of our time.
    Keywords: Marxismo ecológico; crisis ecológica; crisis económica; modo de producción capitalista; ecosocialismo; Ecological Marxism; ecological crisis; economic crisis; capitalist mode of production; ecosocialism
    JEL: B24 B51 Q54 Q57
    Date: 2016–08–01
  5. By: Strulik, Holger
    Abstract: In this paper I consider how individuals allocate their time between church attendance (and other religious activities) and secular leisure activities. Moreover individuals use a cognitive style, which is either intuitive-believing or reflective-analytical. I assume that the full benefit from religious activities is achieved by intuitive believers. The model predicts that, ceteris paribus, wealthier individuals and individuals with higher cognitive ability are more likely to abandon the intuitive-believing cognitive style. They may continue to attend church but do so less frequently than intuitive believers. In general equilibrium, there exists a locally stable steady state where believing and frequent church attendance is widespread across the social strata. A sufficiently large negative shock (e.g. the Enlightenment, repeal of Sunday shopping laws), however, initiates the gradual secularization of society.
    JEL: N30 D11 Z12
    Date: 2016
  6. By: Stör, Lorenz
    Abstract: The predominantly positivist approach in economics towards the object of study is not able to grasp power and domination in its complex interaction of agency and structure. Also in ecological economics and its critique to economic growth, there is a lack of conceptualizations that are sensible to questions of power. The work reveals such deficits and offers a comprehensive theory overview. This overview is then contextualized along the political-economic facets of climate change. The introductory chapter discusses fundamental aspects of power in the context of structure and agency. The common positivist approach in economics is complemented by a post-positivist approach in the following chapter. Critical realism serves as a philosophy of science to acknowledge and integrate structure and agency as forms of power. The third chapter provides an historical overview of selected theories of power. It depicts how the strategic and the episodic understanding of power by Machiavelli and Hobbes respectively, informed later power theories. Theorists such as Dahl, Bachrach & Baratz, Lukes, Gramsci, Laclau & Mouffe, Giddens, Foucault and Clegg are discussed. The aim is to highlight the relevance for a multiplicity of power concepts in economic research. The following chapter puts in context their respective positions on human agency and social structures as the source of power. The fifth chapter initiates an outlook for potential power research on future global challenges. The powers that play a role in the quest for solutions on the issue of climate change are systematically separated in the multiple levels of agency, mechanisms and structure. This serves as an exemplary case to depict the complexity but relevance of power on objects of research in ecological economics.
    Keywords: Power,Structure,Agency,Climate Change,Hegemony,Structuration theory,Machiavelli,Hobbes,Dahl,Lukes,Gramsci,Giddens,Foucault,Hay,Jessop,Macht,Struktur,Handlung,Klimawandel,Hegemonie,Strukturationstheorie
    Date: 2017
    Abstract: This paper introduces key notions to public services in Belgium and Europe such as: collective interest, public interest and general interest, analysed in a historical and evolutionary perspective, and then presented and discussed in their present understanding. Particular emphasis is put on the French notions issued from the French law given their contribution in shaping European law which is regulating today an important part of the organisation of public services. Missions attributed to public services are then classified following a Matriochka model, on the basis on their scope/proximity to the general interest: missions of general interest, missions of public service, missions of universal service and, finally, missions of minimum service. The seven basic principles framing public services are also presented. The second part of the paper deals with the notion of public service under the European Union’s perspective. Here the concept of services of general interest (SGI) is introduced and shaded with other deriving notions such as: services of general economic interest (SGEI) and social services general interest (SSGI). Principles and values at the basis of the European notions are finally presented and analysed through a review of legislation.
    Keywords: general interest, public interest, public service, service of general interest, principles, values, missions of public service, universal service
    Date: 2016–06
  8. By: Lionel de BOISDEFFRE
    Abstract: We consider a pure exchange economy, where consumers may exchange commodities, on spot markets, and securities, on purely financial markets, and be asymmetrically informed. Agents have private characteristics, anticipations and beliefs, and no model to forecast prices. We show they face an incompressible uncertainty represented by a "minimum uncertainty set", which adds to the 'exogenous uncertainty' on tomorrow's state of nature, an 'endogenous uncertainty' on spot prices, which depend on agents' private beliefs. At equilibrium, all consumers expect the 'true' price in each realizable state as a possible outcome, and elect optimal strategies, ex ante, which clear on all markets, ex post. We show that equilibrium exists under standard conditions, as long as agents' prior anticipations, which may be refined from observing markets, embed the minimum uncertainty set.
    Keywords: sequential equilibrium, temporary equilibrium, perfect foresight, existence, rational expectations, financial markets, asymmetric information, arbitrage
    JEL: D52
    Date: 2017–02
  9. By: Pradeep Dubey (SUNY); John Geanakoplos (Cowles Foundation, Yale University)
    Abstract: Status is greatly valued in the real world, yet it has not received much attention from economic theorists. We examine how the owner of a firm can best combine money and status to get her employees to work hard for the least total cost. We find that she should motivate workers of low skill mostly by status and high skill mostly by money. Moreover, she should do so by using a small number of titles and wage levels. This often results in star wages to the elite performers and, more generally, in wage jumps for small increases in productivity. By analogy, the governance of a society should pay special attention to the status concerns of ordinary citizens, which may often be accomplished by reinforcing suitable social norms.
    Keywords: Status, Incentives, Wages
    JEL: C70 I20 I30
    Date: 2017–02

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