nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2023‒11‒13
four papers chosen by
Erik Thomson, University of Manitoba

  1. Was Lucifer a Gambler? A Rational-Choice Hermeneutic of Peter Olivi’s Treatise on Demons By Azam, Jean-Paul
  2. A journal ranking based on central bank citations By Raphael Auer; Giulio Cornelli; Christian Zimmermann
  3. Inflation and growth in developing economies: A tribute to Professor Thirlwall By Nell, Kevin
  4. Stagnation and cycles in Marx’s Circuit of Capital By Nikolaos Chatzarakis

  1. By: Azam, Jean-Paul
    Abstract: This paper presents an interpretation of the main arguments used in Peter Olivi’s Treatise on Demons, published circa 1295 in Narbonne, Languedoc, within a rational-choice framework. This book has been widely praised as a landmark in the philosophical literature on personhood and personal freedom, since it was (re)discovered about a century ago. In it, Olivi discusses most of the relevant classical and medieval literature on this topic before stating his own position. In the scholastic tradition, the book does not make for easy reading. Moreover, it is evidently a “work in progress”, as pointed out by the translator. Many paragraphs end with “Ergo, etc.”, suggesting that he planned to add something, but could not find time enough for that. He died in 1298, aged 50. This paper offers a simple game-theoretic model aimed at articulating Olivi’s main arguments in a consistent rational choice framework, supported by many quotes translated from French into English by me. It suggests that the “fall of the devil” is used as a parable on human freedom and agency, given a set of incentives strategically chosen by “God” to minimize the number of “sinners”, with some potential interference by “Lucifer”.
    JEL: B11 B30 P48 Z12
    Date: 2023–10–26
  2. By: Raphael Auer; Giulio Cornelli; Christian Zimmermann
    Abstract: We present a ranking of journals geared toward measuring the policy relevance of research. We compute simple impact factors that count only citations made in central bank publications, such as their working paper series. Whereas this ranking confirms the policy relevance of the major general interest journals in the field of economics, the major finance journals fare less favourably. Journals specialising in monetary economics, international economics and financial intermediation feature highly, but surprisingly not those specialising in econometrics. The ranking is topped by the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, followed by the Quarterly Journal of Economics and the Journal of Monetary Economics, the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, and the Journal of Political Economy.
    Keywords: central banks; citations; academic journals; ranking
    JEL: A11 E50 E58
    Date: 2023–10
  3. By: Nell, Kevin
    Abstract: This paper pays tribute to Professor Thirlwall’s substantive work in growth and development economics by providing a review of his book Inflation, Saving and Growth in Developing Economies (1974b) [hereafter ISGD]. Indeed, the hallmark of a good economics book is whether its theoretical content and empirical predictions made several decades ago remain relevant when assessed against more recent evidence. Thirlwall’s ISGD book exhibits all these qualities. It emphasises the importance of distinguishing between different types of inflation. Structural inflation and, to a lesser extent, cost inflation, should be seen as the inevitable outcomes of the growth and development process, whereas demand inflation may act as a direct stimulus to growth, as predicted by the Kaldor-Thirlwall model of forced saving and the inflation tax model. These theoretical insights remain highly relevant in today’s developing economies. Studies tend to show that inflation thresholds, up until the point where the effect of inflation on growth is positive, tend to be higher in developing economies relative to advanced countries, owing to a combination of structural, cost and demand-side sources of inflation. The analysis further argues that inflationary finance of development, as advanced in ISGD, remains a viable development strategy when open-economy constraints are considered.
    Keywords: Developing economies; inflation; investment; growth; saving; Thirlwall; threshold
    JEL: O11 O23 O47
    Date: 2023–09–01
  4. By: Nikolaos Chatzarakis (Department of Economics, New School for Social Research, USA)
    Abstract: Marx’ circuit of capital describes the circular process of transformation of money to commodities and of commodities to money, the unified process of capital turnover from production to exchange. It becomes the prime tool Marx used to analyze the process of labor, the reproduction and accumulation of capital, and the possibility and actuality of crises in the capitalist mode of production. In a paper in 1982 and two books is 1986, Foley formulated a mathematical model for the circuit of capital. In the present work, we reformulate this model into a closed and autonomous dynamical system and we proceed to analyze its phase space; not surprisingly, this model resembles the famous epidemiological models, used to describe a similar circular process for the spread of a disease. The equilibrium points of the system reveal the cases for a ‘normal’ phase of expansion, as well as for an ‘excess capital’ crisis; the shift of stability from the one to the other reveals a possibility theory of crisis as a secular stagnation process, while the shift from stability to cycles reveals an actuality theory of short-run fluctuations due to ‘excess commodities’ and ‘excess money’.
    Keywords: Circuit of capital, capital accumulation, economic crisis, financialization
    Date: 2023–10

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