nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2023‒10‒30
nine papers chosen by
Erik Thomson, University of Manitoba

  1. Alberto Alesina (1957-2020): Man, Researcher, Professor of Economics, Popularizer By Vindigni, Andrea
  2. History helps us understand gender differences in the labour market By Committee, Nobel Prize
  3. Utility of sacrifices: Reorientation of the utility theory By GC, Arun
  4. Economic Management In A Multiple Equilibria Economy By Zainab Fatima
  5. Interest rates, not the money supply: Towards a non-monetarist interpretation of the TFEU By Orphal, Philipp; Kern, Florian; Krahé, Max
  6. Scientific Background to the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2023 By Committee, Nobel Prize
  7. Liberty By François Facchini
  8. El último Plan Económico del Primer Ciclo del Gobierno de Raúl Alfonsín (1983-1985): Tensiones, Contradicciones e Inestabilidad Permanente By Ignacio Rossi
  9. The reductionism of genopolitics in the context of the relationships between biology and political science By Wajzer, Mateusz

  1. By: Vindigni, Andrea (University of Genova)
    Abstract: This paper offers an overview of Alberto Alesina's life and of his scholarly work (§ 1 and 2). It will be argued, that Alberto would have entirely deserved the award of the Nobel Prize for Economic Science, except only for his premature passing away. His foundational contribution was the creation, and the development of modern political economy since the mid 1980s (§ 3). This is a highly eclectic discipline at the cross-road of economics and political science. I will briefly attempt to explain what political economy is mainly about, and what political economy is nowadays understood to mean: its basic assumptions, its methodology, its goals, its main relations with modern economics (§ 4). I will then focus on the general introduction (§ 5), and the analytical discussion (§ 5.1) of one of Alberto's most important and impactful contributions: his 1994 work with Dani Rodrik on redistributive politics and economic growth. In my opinion, this is not only one of the many path-breaking and extremely impactful contributions of Alberto, but it best illustrates his scholarly traits and his research agenda. This paper has indeed influenced a large subsequent body of literature; I will mention a few highly celebrated among such contributions (§ 5.2). I will then very briefly discuss a few other relatively early works of Alberto, that have also contributed to the foundation and to the establishment of modern political economy (§ 6). These early works could have been part of a hard core of contributions, potentially more than justifying the assignment of the Nobel Prize in Economics to Alberto Alesina. Finally, I will briefly discuss some of his late work (§ 7), as well as my own personal relation with Alberto (§ 8), a truly unique human being, and master of all the Italian economists (and of many other social scientists). Some acknowledgments (§ 9), and a short but essential bibliography (§ 10) conclude this paper.
    Keywords: economic growth, inequality, public debt, government, political economy, redistribution, culture
    JEL: O11 O43
    Date: 2023–09
  2. By: Committee, Nobel Prize (Nobel Prize Committee)
    Abstract: Over the past century, the proportion of women in paid work has tripled in many high-income countries. This is one of the biggest societal and economic changes in the labour market in modern times, but significant gender differences remain. It was first in the 1980s that a researcher adopted a comprehensive approach to explaining the source of these differences. Claudia Goldin’s research has given us new and often surprising insights into women’s historical and contemporary roles in the labour market.
    Keywords: Gender in labor markets;
    JEL: J70 J71 J78
    Date: 2023–10–09
  3. By: GC, Arun
    Abstract: Utility theory is a pivotal concept in economics that provides insights into how an individual is motivated to act under budget constraints. The main assumption of this theory and the entire field of economics is that a rational human being and an individual derive utility from the consumption of goods and services under given budget constraints. The aim of this article is to explore these fundamental assumptions and introduce a new theoretical framework for deriving utility, which is termed the “utility of sacrifices”. Various methods were employed in the study, including a review of existing literature, an analysis of prevailing theories, and observations in real-world scenarios. The results show that, through observations, a “rational” human being derives utility from both consumption and voluntary sacrifices. Therefore, in conclusion, it is proposed that the total utility of an individual is the sum of these two components. This theoretical framework provides a more comprehensive understanding of human decision-making and behavior in economics. It also provides novel insights for future research and applications in economics.
    Keywords: utility; consumption; sacrifices; decision making; behavior
    JEL: B41 B5 B50 D1 D11
    Date: 2023–05
  4. By: Zainab Fatima (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics)
    Abstract: This webinar addresses the critical failures in economic management within economically developed countries in recent years. The webinar speaker is Mr. Andrew R. W. Smithers, a respected figure in finance, widely recognized for his insightful commentary, columns, and literary contributions. In 1989, he established Smithers & Co., following a successful tenure as the head of S G Warburg’s asset management business. Notable among his publications are “Valuing Wall Street, ” “Wall Street Revalued, ” “The Road to Recovery, ” “Productivity and the Bonus Culture, ” and “The Economics of the Stock Market.” Andrew critically examines prevailing economic theories and advocates for timely reforms to prevent recurring financial crises. In this webinar, he sheds light on the key causes behind these failures and emphasizes the importance of improving both economic policies and theories.
    Date: 2023
  5. By: Orphal, Philipp; Kern, Florian; Krahé, Max
    Abstract: In this paper, we show that the case law on the legality of bond purchases by Eurosystem central banks is partly based on the economic theory of monetarism and, in particular, on a 1981 paper by Thomas Sargent and Neil Wallace ("Some Unpleasant Monetarist Arithmetic"). However, monetarism, already controversial in the 1970s and 1980s, is now recognised as false. The assumptions on which Sargent and Wallace based their argument were already partially inaccurate at the time; today, it is generally accepted that these assumptions do not hold in reality.2 This intellectual progress should be taken into account in ongoing interpretation of the European treaties and the European legal framework. Building on this observation, in this paper we develop an updated, "non-monetarist" interpretation of Article 123 TFEU. This interpretation deviates from the standards developed in previous case law in three ways: First, the prohibition under which the European System of Central Banks may not purchase government bonds on the secondary markets under conditions which would, in practice, have an effect equivalent to that of a direct purchase of government bonds ("prohibition of transactions with equivalent effect") should be given up on. Second, the restriction that secondary market purchases must not weaken incentives (judicially speaking, the "impetus") towards "sound fiscal policy" ("prohibition on circumvention") should be replaced. Instead of this restriction, the proper limiting principle is that secondary market purchases must pursue the objective of price stability and, if possible without compromising the first objective, support the general economic policies in the European Union. Within the purposes of Article 123 TFEU, sound public finances are only a means for achieving price stability. The focus of the interpretation should therefore be the pursuit of price stability. The general economic policy goal of sound public finances is the subject of other rules. Third, and on a related point, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (BverfG) should no longer ground the protection of the Bundestag's budgetary right in Article 123 TFEU. The increasingly detailed measures and prohibitions built on an extensive reading of this article are detrimental to monetary policy and thus to price stability. This does not mean that the Federal Constitutional Court should give up on protecting the Bundestag's budgetary sovereignty. Instead, the protection of the Bundestag's budgetary right should be carried out under the legal benchmarks actually created for this purpose: Articles 121, 125 and 126 TFEU.
    Date: 2023
  6. By: Committee, Nobel Prize (Nobel Prize Committee)
    Abstract: Women are severely underrepresented in the global labor market: around 50% of women work or actively seek work for income, compared to 80% for men. The gender differences in participation are fundamentally driven by variation in women’s participation rates – men’s participation rates are broadly constant across time and countries. The participation gaps between men and women are particularly large in South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, where they sometimes exceed 50 percentage points.
    Keywords: Gender in labor markets;
    JEL: J70 J71 J78
    Date: 2023–10–09
  7. By: François Facchini (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: Freedom raises questions, on the one hand, about the relationship between human beings and nature (via the question of determinism) and, on the other hand, about the relationship between one human being and another (via the topics of duty and obligation). The response of human beings to the constraints that nature places upon the will is exemplified in technology. The response of human beings to the constraints that can be imposed by other human beings is exemplified by law. Fundamentally, a free action is something done that could have been done in a different way. It is distinguished from a reflex action. A free act or action has three characteristics: (i) it is intentional (an act of will), (ii) it comes with a justification in the form of reasons for acting or motives (one wishes to enjoy looking at a landscape), and (iii) it is not the determinate result of some other act or action. Regarding free action, it is not immediately certain that it exists in reality. Perhaps my reasons for acting or my motives in acting were, after all, determined by my conditions of existence. Determinism develops this doctrine. Everything that happens must happen as it does and could not have happened any other way. The acts of the will are determined by antecedent causes. There are two kinds of determinism: external determinism and internal determinis. Determinism has three consequences: (i) The opposite of the absence of choice is freedom; (ii) determinism denies the being of "non necessitating ends, " and the role of free will, entrepreneurialism and imagination in the explanation of human behavior; and (iii) if freedom does not exist, the law does not need to protect it. At the contrario, Affirming the existence of nonnecessitating ends has therefore several consequences. In particular, that restores the place of entrepreneurs as a change agent in the analysis of the dynamics of institutions : culture and law. The entrepreneur has space in which to manoeuver regarding all the laws that do not establish necessitating ends. If human laws, that is, morality and law, have this characteristic, then human beings can liberate themselves from laws that constrain them by refusing to apply them. They have the power to stand apart from their conditioning.
    Keywords: liberty, entrepreneur, action, determinism, property right, morality
    Date: 2022–11–26
  8. By: Ignacio Rossi (Universidad Nacional de Luján)
    Abstract: El Plan Económico de Bernardo Grinspun (1983-1985) desarrollado como primera estrategia económica durante el gobierno de Raúl Alfonsín (1983-1989) fue menos estudiado frente al Plan Austral formulado a partir de 1985. Si bien la estrategia keynesiana del primer ministro de Economía fue breve, aún constituye un campo de vacancia para comprender cómo se abordaron desde el gobierno los desafíos económicos. Con el objetivo de contribuir a su conocimiento, el trabajo aborda el Plan Económico Argentino de diciembre de 1984, formulado conjuntamente entre el Ministerio de Economía y el Banco Central en el cuadro del cierre de un acuerdo conel Fondo Monetario Internacional por la deuda externa. Contrastado con fuentes periodísticas, bibliográficas, memorias y otros documentos institucionales de la época, sostenemos que dicho programa muestra las contradicciones, debates y tensiones inherentes a la política económica nacional como debilidades en la estrategia macroeconómica de mediano plazo.
    Keywords: Deuda externa; inflación; Banco Central; macroeconomía.
    Date: 2023–09
  9. By: Wajzer, Mateusz
    Abstract: The past two decades have seen an increase in the use of theories, data, assumptions and methods of the biological sciences in studying political phenomena. One of the approaches that combine biology with political science is genopolitics. The goal of the study was to analyse the basic ontological, methodological and epistemological assumptions for the reductionism of genopolitics. The results show that genopolitics assumes methodological reductionism but rejects ontological and epistemological reductionism. The key consequences of the findings are the irreducibility of political science to biology and the complementarity of genopolitical explanations and political science explanations based on culturalism. If my findings prove to be correct, they give rise to the formation of a hypothesis regarding the anti-reductionist orientation of the contemporary links between political science and biology. An important step towards confirming or falsifying such a hypothesis will be exploring the reductionism of contemporary biopolitical approaches such as neuropolitics or evolutionary political psychology.
    Keywords: reductionism, genopolitics, biology, political science, political attitudes and behaviours
    JEL: Z00
    Date: 2022–10–06

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