nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2020‒11‒23
nine papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. The Economics of Bernard Lonergan: Context, Modelling and Assessment By Oslington, Paul; Assistant, JHET
  2. Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Development Economist By Suprinyak, Carlos Eduardo; Assistant, JHET
  3. “The Initiated”: Aaron Director and the Chicago Monetary Tradition By Tavlas, George S.; Assistant, JHET
  4. The Dissemination of Public Economics in Brazil at the Turn of the 20th Century: Rui Barbosa Between Law-Making and Policymaking. By Curi, Luiz Felipe Bruzzi; Cunha, Alexandre Mendes; Assistant, JHET
  5. How altruistic is indirect reciprocity? - Evidence from gift-exchange games in the lab By Becker, Johannes; Hopp, Daniel; Süß, Karolin
  6. Are people conditionally honest? The effects of stakes and information about others' behavior By Necker, Sarah; Le Maux, Benoit; Masclet, David
  7. Review of “The Economic Thought of Michael Polanyi” by Gábor Bíró By Dekker, Erwin; Assistant, JHET
  8. A Response to Erwin Dekker By Bíró, Gábor; Assistant, JHET
  9. The Influence of Self and Social Image Concerns on Lying By Bašic, Zvonimir; Simone Quercia

  1. By: Oslington, Paul; Assistant, JHET
    Abstract: Bernard Lonergan S.J. (1904-84) is unusual among major theologians in engaging deeply with economic theory. In the 1940s he developed his own dynamic multisectoral macroeconomic model, informed by reading of Smith, Marx, Keynes, Hayek, Schumpeter, and later Kalecki. Lonergan’s economic research is little known because the economic manuscripts were not published in his lifetime, and his interactions with professional economists were limited. In the 1970s, however, when he returned to economics he engaged with Post-Keynesians and taught a graduate course on macroeconomics at Boston College until illness overtook him. This paper places Lonergan’s economic research in the context of his overall intellectual project, outlines his macroeconomic model and associated theory of the business cycle, then evaluates his contribution in relation to mid-twentieth century macroeconomics and considers whether it has anything to offer contemporary economists. Whatever view we take of his theoretical contributions, Lonergan’s work opens up connections between economics and theology.
    Date: 2020–11–03
  2. By: Suprinyak, Carlos Eduardo; Assistant, JHET
    Abstract: Accounts of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s career usually focus on his pioneer contributions to mathematical economics during the 1930s and his later conversion to a critical approach to economic theory anchored on the entropy law. These disparate moments, however, were connected by Georgescu-Roegen’s strong attraction to the study of problems afflicting less developed societies. This began with his work on the agrarian economy of his native Romania, in the late 1940s, under the auspices of Harvard’s Russian Research Center. Thenceforth, he embarked on a journey that spawned his early interest in Leontief-type linear models, an extended tour of Southeast Asia commissioned by Vanderbilt University’s Graduate Program in Economic Development, and several visits to Brazil during the 1960s. The paper highlights these lesser-known aspects of Georgescu-Roegen’s trajectory, examining how he built on neo-populist writings from the early 20th century to construct an alternative to the mainstream emphasis on industrialization policies.
    Date: 2020–11–03
  3. By: Tavlas, George S.; Assistant, JHET
    Abstract: Aaron Director taught at the University of Chicago from 1930 to 1934 and from 1946 to 1967. Both periods corresponded to crucial stages in the development of Chicago monetary economics under the leaderships of Henry Simons and Milton Friedman, respectively. Any impact that Director may have played in the development of those stages and to the relationship between the views of Simons and Friedman has been frustrated by Director’s lack of publications. I provide evidence, much of it for the first time, showing the important role played by Director in the development of Chicago monetary economics, including his role as a transmitor of Simons’s ideas to Friedman.
    Date: 2020–11–03
  4. By: Curi, Luiz Felipe Bruzzi; Cunha, Alexandre Mendes; Assistant, JHET
    Abstract: Rui Barbosa was a renowned jurist who served as the first Finance Minister of the Brazilian Republic, established in 1889. Despite his renown as an intellectual, Barbosa faced a severe financial crisis during his ministerial tenure and gained a bad reputation for his economic policy. In the texts produced in this context, he combined different traditions of economic thought from the point of view of the legal expert serving as economic policymaker. In the field of public finance, while assimilating arguments associated to German state socialism and its North American developments, he was also influenced by French liberal economist Paul Leroy-Beaulieu. Through these international assimilations, Barbosa constructed an assemblage of economic ideas organized not by theoretical affiliations in the contemporary sense, but around two main goals: to rationalize and legitimize his policy as Finance Minister and to influence the legal ordering of the Brazilian fiscal economy.
    Date: 2020–11–03
  5. By: Becker, Johannes; Hopp, Daniel; Süß, Karolin
    Abstract: Indirect reciprocity is defined as a specific kind of behavior: An agent rewards or penalizes another agent for having behaved kindly or unkindly toward a third party. This paper analyzes the question of what drives indirect reciprocity: Does the agent reward or penalize because she (altruistically) cares for the third party? Or does she take the other agent's behavior as a signal of how the latter would treat her if they met? In order to measure the relative importance of the altruism motive versus the signaling motive, we consider a gift-exchange game with three players: an employer pays wages to a worker and a coworker, before the worker (but not the coworker) may reciprocate by exerting effort. We offer a theoretical framework to analyze both motives for indirect reciprocity and run a series of lab experiments. The treatments manipulate the worker's information on wages. We find that, if only the coworker's wage is observable, the worker's effort increases in the coworker's wage. In contrast, if the worker can observe her own wage, the coworker's wage does not affect worker effort at all. We interpret this as support for the signaling motive: Indirect reciprocity is rather a byproduct of direct reciprocity than an act of altruism.
    Keywords: gift-exchange,indirect reciprocity,signaling
    JEL: A13 C92 D91 J31
    Date: 2020
  6. By: Necker, Sarah; Le Maux, Benoit; Masclet, David
    Abstract: We study theoretically and empirically how monetary incentives and information about others' behavior affects dishonesty. We ran a laboratory experiment with 560 participants inspired by the "observed game" developed by Kajackaite and Gneezy (2017). We find that the extensive (the fraction of liars) and intensive (the size of the lie) margin of dishonesty decrease when stakes are very high. On average, information about others slightly increases the fraction of liars but has no effect on the size of the lie. Distinguishing subjects by their belief on others' behavior, we find that information decreases the fraction of liars among over-estimators and increases the fraction among under-estimators. This pattern is the same across payoff levels.
    Keywords: Laboratory experiment,theory,cheating,incentives,information,moral costs,lying costs
    JEL: C91 D03 D78
    Date: 2020
  7. By: Dekker, Erwin; Assistant, JHET
    Abstract: A book review of “The Economic Thought of Michael Polanyi” by Gábor Bíró
    Date: 2020–11–02
  8. By: Bíró, Gábor; Assistant, JHET
    Abstract: Author's response to Erwin Dekker's review of “The Economic Thought of Michael Polanyi” published in the Journal of the History of Economic Thought
    Date: 2020–11–02
  9. By: Bašic, Zvonimir (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn); Simone Quercia (University of Verona)
    Abstract: We investigate the influence of self and social image concerns as potential sources of lying costs. In a standard die-rolling experiment, we exogenously manipulate self-awareness and observability, which mediate the focus of a person on their private and public selves, respectively. First, we show that an increase in self-awareness has no effect on reporting private information. This suggests that self-image concerns may be less important than previously hypothesized in the literature on lying costs. Second, we show that increasing subjects' observability, while still maintaining private information, significantly decreases the subjects' reports. We finally show in a survey experiment that respondents believe that the likelihood of a lie increases with the reported outcome and attribute negative traits to people who make high reports. This further supports reputational concerns as the explanation behind the results of our social image treatment.
    Keywords: honesty, truth-telling, lying, private information, self-image concerns, social image concerns, reputation
    JEL: C91 D63 D82 D91
    Date: 2020–08

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