nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2018‒01‒08
eight papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Games for cautious players: the equilibrium in secure strategies By ISKAKOV, Mikhail; ISKAKOV, Alexey; d'ASPREMONT, Claude
  2. What Are Analytic Narratives? By Mongin, Philippe
  3. A Unified Marxist Approach to Accumulation and Crisis in Capitalist Economies By Deepankar Basu
  4. Un récit historique alternatif sur l’indépendance des banques centrales: la doctrine et les pratiques avant la théorie ou l’art avant la science By Adriano Do Vale
  5. Bayesian Game Theorists and non-Bayesian Players By Guilhem Lecouteux
  6. Why have only humans and social insects evolved a complex division of labor By Ugo Pagano
  7. “Soviet Antiquity”: Looking for a Cohesive Theory By Ivan A. Ladynin
  8. Intentions for Doing Good Matter for Doing Well: The (Negative) Signaling Value of Prosocial Incentives By Lea Cassar; Stephan Meier

  1. By: ISKAKOV, Mikhail; ISKAKOV, Alexey; d'ASPREMONT, Claude (Université catholique de Louvain, CORE, Belgium)
    Abstract: A non-cooperative solution, the Equilibrium in Secure Strategies (EinSS), is defined that extends the Nash equilibrium in pure strategies when it does not exist and is meant to solve games where players are "cautious", i.e. looking for secure positions and avoiding threats. This concept abstracts and unifies various ad hoc solutions already formulated in various applied economic games that have been discussed extensively in the literature. It complements usefully mixed strategy Nash equilibria that are usually not explicit and difficult to interpret in these games. Like the Nash equilibrium, the EinSS is a static concept, and the basic requirement of excluding at equilibrium some deviations remains. But it also appeals to dynamic intuitions, tolerating at equilibrium the possibility of some deviations, which would be blocked by counter-deviations punishing the deviator. This is in line with the "objection-counter- objection" rationale first introduced in cooperative games. A general existence theorem is provided and then applied to the price-setting game in Hotelling location model, to Tullock's rent-seeking contests and to Bertrand-Edgeworth duopoly. Finally competition in the insurance market game is re-examined and the Rothchild-Stiglitz- Wilson contract shown to be an EinSS even when the Nash equilibrium breaks down.
    Keywords: Noncooperative games, Equilibrium existence, Discontinuous games, Equilibrium in secure strategies, Hotelling model, Tullock contest, Insurance market, Bertrand-Edgeworth duopoly
    JEL: C72 D03 D43 D72 L12 L13
    Date: 2016–10–21
  2. By: Mongin, Philippe
    Abstract: The recently born expression "analytic narratives" refers to studies that have appeared at the boundaries of history, political science, and economics. These studies purport to explain specific historical events by combining the usual narrative way of historians with the analytic tools that economists and political scientists find in rational choice theory. Game theory is prominent among these tools. The paper explains what analytic narratives are by sampling from the eponymous book Analytic Narratives by Bates, Greif, Levi, Rosenthal, and Weingast (1998) and covering one outside study by Mongin (2008). It first evaluates the explanatory performance of the new genre, using some philosophy of historical explanation and then checks its discursive consistency, using some narratology. The paper concludes that analytic narratives can usefully complement standard narratives in historical explanation, provided they specialize in the gaps that these narratives reveal and that they are discursively consistent, despite the tension that combining a formal model with a narration creates. Two expository modes, called alternation and local supplementation, emerge from the discussion as the most appropriate ones to resolve this tension
    Keywords: Analytic narratives; Rational choice theory; Game theory; Historical explanation; Text; Form of discourse; Narratology.
    JEL: C79 D89 N01 N43
    Date: 2016–06–16
  3. By: Deepankar Basu (Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts - Amherst)
    Abstract: An economic crisis in capitalism is a deep and prolonged interruption of the economy-wide circuit of capital. Crises emerge from within the logic of capitalism’s operation, and are manifestations of the inherently contradictory process of capital accumulation. The Marxist tradition conceptualizes two types of crisis tendencies in capitalism : a crisis of deficient surplus value and a crisis of excess surplus value. Two mechanisms that become important in crises of deficient surplus value are the rising organic composition of capital and the profit squeeze; two mechanisms that are salient in crisis of excess surplus value are problems of insufficient aggregate demand and increased financial fragility. This paper offers a synthetic and synoptic account of the Marxist literature on capitalist economic crises.
    Keywords: capitalism, crisis, rising organic composition, profit squeeze, underconsumption, financial fragility
    JEL: B24 B51
    Date: 2017
  4. By: Adriano Do Vale (CEPN - Centre d'Economie de l'Université Paris Nord - UP13 - Université Paris 13 - USPC - Université Sorbonne Paris Cité - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: La fin des années 80 et les années 90 ont été marquées par une grande vague d’adoption de l’indépendance des banques centrales (IBC). Les manuels et les revues de la littérature adoptent souvent un récit historique standard la présentant comme une sucess story, comme l’application d’un consensus théorique. L’art aurait suivi le pas de la science. Cet article a comme finalité ultime de proposer un récit alternatif concernant l’IBC. Adoptant une perspective historique centrée sur la première partie des années 20, nous entendons démontrer que la doctrine des banquiers centraux et les pratiques, comprises en tant qu’adoption de l’IBC, précédent la théorie, l’art venant alors avant la science. Vue de façon normative par la littérature économique à partir des années 80, l’indépendance est pensée, dès les années 20, par les praticiens qui posent eux-mêmes les principes du central banking. Dans la nouvelle donne de l’après-guerre, marquée par l’absence de l’ancrage nominal autrefois fourni par l’étalon-or, l’IBC s’avère un arrangement institutionnel alternatif face à l’inflation. Elle est recommandée au niveau international et constitue un principe central de la doctrine du central banking avancé par le gouverneur anglais Montagu Norman. Comme pour le principe d’indépendance, les pratiques précèdent la théorie. On considère qu’il y a eu une première vague d’adoption de l’IBC dans la première moitié des années 20, bien avant la vague d’adoption de l’IBC de la fin des années 80 et des années 90. Suite à des expériences hyper-inflationnistes et dans le cadre de plans de stabilisation monétaire sous tutelle internationale, les banques centrales de l’Autriche (1923), de la Hongrie (1924) et de l’Allemagne (1922-24) deviennent légalement indépendantes.
    Date: 2017–12–12
  5. By: Guilhem Lecouteux (GREDEG - Groupe de Recherche en Droit, Economie et Gestion - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UNS - Université Nice Sophia Antipolis - UCA - Université Côte d'Azur - UCA - Université Côte d'Azur)
    Date: 2017–11–11
  6. By: Ugo Pagano
    Abstract: Social species, those that have a complex division of labor, comprise about two thirds of the earth’s biomass. These social species – humans and social insects – are located at extreme points of the set of possible evolutionary paths. The queens of small social insects produce thousands of small larvae, whereas human females invest heavily in their children, who are born already with a very large brain. In spite of these and many other evident differences, social insects and humans have conquered the earth because they share two characteristics: a highly developed system of social cooperation, and a complex division of labor. These observations prompt two questions: If there are evident evolutionary advantages of cooperation and specialization, why have only few species been able to increase their fitness in this way? Why have these characteristics emerged as such extremely different forms of life? In order to answer these two questions, we will focus on possible “transition societies” in the evolutionary paths towards social species. We will argue that, in both the human and social insect cases, sexual selection had a crucial role in the development of the division of labor and entailed that the division of labor required either minimum or maximum unitary investments in the offspring. The species located in between these two extremes could not exploit the advantages of specialization.
    Keywords: division of labor, evolution, social insects, human capabilities
    JEL: N10 B00 Z13 D83 D87
    Date: 2017–12
  7. By: Ivan A. Ladynin (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
    Abstract: The problem basically unanswered is whether the Soviet historiography has ever developed an all-embracing concept of antiquity as a slave-owning society and whether it produced a general scheme of this period at all. Two attempts to create a uniform Marxist concept of “slave-owning antiquity” in 1930-1940s (undertaken by the scholars of GAIMK and by A.V. Mishulin with his followers) failed; a real generalization of ancient history was not achieved before 1980s, when it was perceived (not quite in the manner of Marxist method) as the evolution of rural communities rather than slavery.
    Keywords: Marxism, ancient history, general concept, social and economic research, class struggle, slavery, rural community, historiography
    JEL: Z
    Date: 2017
  8. By: Lea Cassar; Stephan Meier
    Abstract: Prosocial incentives and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives are seen by many firms as an effective way to motivate workers. Recent empirical results seem to support the expectation that prosocial incentive, e.g. in the form of a charitable donations by the firm, can increase effort and motivation – sometimes even better than monetary incentives. We argue that the benefits crucially depend on the perceived intention of the firm. Workers use prosocial incentives as a signal about the firm's type and if used instrumentally in order to profit the firm, they can backfire. We show in an experiment in collaboration with an Italian firm, that monetary and prosocial incentives work very differently. While monetary incentives used instrumentally increase effort, instrumental charitable incentives backfire compared to non-instrumental incentives. This is especially true for non-prosocially-motivated workers who do not care about the prosocial cause but use prosocial incentives only as a signal about the firm. The results contribute to the understanding of the limits of prosocial incentives by focusing on their signaling value to the agent about the principal's type.
    JEL: C93 D03 M52
    Date: 2017–12

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