Barkley Rosser report

Amanda Tattersall amandatatts at
Wed Feb 28 16:53:25 MST 2001

Sorry for my ignorance of contemporary economic debates and schools, but
could someone explain what 'post-Keynesian' is in a nutshell.  I am not an
economic person and am quite curious.

>From: Louis Proyect <lnp3 at>
>Reply-To: marxism at
>To: marxism at
>Subject: Barkley Rosser report
>Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001 19:05:17 -0500
>[A lively and colorful report on an academic conference from a PEN-L'er
>that relates to our discussion here]
>Folks, I unsubbed last week while going to the Eastern Economic Association
>meetings in New York, but promised michael before hand that I would report
>on them. Here it is.
>Of the four regional economic associations in the US (Western, Midwestern,
>Southern, and Eastern), the Eastern has for some time now been much more
>open to heterodox approaches to economics, with a fairly strong tendency
>towards the left end of the ideological spectrum, although that is not
>absolute with various conservative and mainstream types showing up as well.
>This was quite true of these meetings that happened in New York last week.
>A few highlights.
>One group that has been meeting for several years now in conjunction with
>the EEA has been the International Working Group on Value Theory (IWGVT),
>run more or less by Alan Freeman of Greenwich U. in England and Andrew
>Kliman of Pace University in New York. True to its name, the sessions of
>this group involved many people from outside the US, as indeed the EEA does
>in general much more than these other regional groups in the US. Freeman
>and Kliman are strong supporters of the temporal single system (TSS)
>approach to resolving the contradictions and difficulties of the Marxian
>theory of value, and these annual meetings have become a kind of running
>roadshow of the debates surrounding this proposed approach that claims to
>resolve such problems as the Transformation Problem and the Law of the
>Falling Rate of Profit.
>I shall not go into a lengthy exegesis here of this stuff as I know many on
>this list are not interested in it (which is more regularly aired on OPE-L,
>run by Jerry Levy, who was in attendance at the meetings). But I can
>outline which of the main players were there and how they currently stand
>vis a vis each other. Probably the three major critics of the TSS approach
>who presented were David Laibman, of Brooklyn College and editor of Science
>and Sociey, Fred Moseley, of Holyoke College, known for his empirical
>estimates claiming to show a declining rate of profit in the US, and Gary
>Mongiovi, of St. Johns University and coeditor of the Review of Political
>Economy. Mongiovi is a strong defender of the Sraffian approach and he and
>Kliman provided perhaps the sharpest clash of the bunch, with Mongiovi
>characterizing the TSS approach as "vulgar" while Kliman criticized the
>"physicalism" of the Sraffian approach.
>One prominent figure who has participated in these sessions and debates who
>was at the meetings but stayed out of this fray this time was Duncan Foley,
>now of the New School. He ran a session on Sunday morning on Complexity
>theory that I participated in as a last minute all purpose discussant. The
>presenters were three of his grad students, one of whom, Mishael Mikalac
>was showing how Duncan's maximum entropy statistical equilibrium approach
>(see JET, 1994) can be used to derive a power law distribution that can be
>used to estimate different wealth distributions. He provided empirical
>estimates for several countries. Chris Rude used entropy-based lottery
>theory to explain financial markets in an argument I jumped all over (one
>conclusion: "professional" traders do better than "amateurs"). Nelson
>Barbosa-Filho of Brazil argued with a more straightforward model ("no chaos
>theory here," he said) about how capital inflows to a country with a
>current account surplus can lead to an exchange rate collapse, and applied
>this to Brazil very credibly. I gave Duncan a hard time about the basis for
>his entropy maximization argument, but I think he defended it quite well.
>Ken Koford of U. of Delaware, the editor of the Eastern Economic Journal
>attended this session and apparently wants to publish the papers from it in
>the EEJ as a symposium.
>Another group very much present were a lot of Post Keynesians (the pkt list
>was very quiet late last week). Ric Holt and Steve Pressman have their New
>Guide to Post Keynesian Economics coming out shortly from Routledge and are
>working on some subsequent volumes. One or the other of them chaired a
>bunch of sessions that focused on empirical work along Post Keynesian
>lines. One especially interesting paper was by Ronald Calitri of the New
>School (a lot of New Schoolers in attendance) who was prophesying a major
>global economic downturn on the behavior of a large number of time series.
>Another subgroup of Post Keynesians very present were some from England,
>with seven from Leeds University alone, led by Malcolm Sawyer who presented
>several papers with Phil Arestis of South Bank U. in London. They were in
>some of the most heavily attended sessions that were on what is going on in
>the EU with the euro and fiscal policy. Jamie Galbraith presented a paper
>in one of those sessions calling for the EU to imitate the US in having
>community-wide social safety net policies (hard to imagine the US as much
>of a model for such things.... ).
>There were also several sessions on the "The Dijon School of Endogenous
>Mustard, oops, I mean Money: Post Keynesian and Circuitist Theories," with
>a faction from Dijon in Burgundy there doing the spreading, although the
>godfather of these sessions seems to have been mostly Louis-Philippe
>Rochon, formerly of the New School (again!) but now of Kalamazoo College.
>However les grands fromages of this school were not in attendance, who have
>been in the past and were last summer at the last Post Keynesian Workshop,
>Alain Parguez of Besancon and Bernard Vallageas of Paris-Sud.
>Also, there was a moderately noticeable faction from U. of Missouri-Kansas
>City, with pen-l's own, Mat Forstater, involved heavily in quite a few
>sessions. A very well attended one he ran mostly consisted of Robert
>Heilbroner criticizing modern economics on various reasonable grounds.
>The presidential address was by Peter Kenen of Princeton who has advised
>the Treasury Dept. under Clinton (know him, Brad?) and who gave a talk on
>"Currencies, Crises, and Crashes." The first 15 minutes sounded pretty
>interesting, but I had to bug out to take my daughter to see The Lion King.
>There was also a lunch with Deirdre McCloskey that my wife, Marina, said
>was very interesting, Deirdre doing her anti-statistical significance and
>existence proof dog and pony show. She was also carrying her dog, Jane
>Austen, around in her handbag. One line from the lunch was that when she
>(then he) was 11, she dreamed of being a girl and having no stutter and
>achieved one of those.
>Marina and I presented a paper (on the website, kiddies) on "The Transition
>Between the Old and New Traditional Economies in India."
>I also served as a discussant for a paper by the editor of the Review of
>Austrian Economics, Peter Boettke of George Mason University, on
>"Conceptions of the State in Post- Communist Political Economy." However,
>he did not show and had the paper presented by his first year grad student
>coauthor. So, I had to go easy. I agreed with their analysis of why the
>transition in Russia has been a mess, but I disagreed with their conception
>of the state that somehow leaves out distribution....
>Finally, I chaired the roundtable session on Lynn Turgeon that was
>advertised on this list. This was very well attended and very lively. I
>noted Turgeon's "dialectic," his argument that demand- constrained
>capitalist economies could be expanded by military production while
>supply-constrained socialist economies would be constrained by it. There
>were a lot of personal reminiscences about him by the panelists and the
>members of the audience, including several of his former students and
>colleagues from Hofstra University. There is a paper available on my
>website by the panelists that will hopefully appear in the American Journal
>of Economics and Sociology, under the title, "Keynesian Comparative
>Economics: The Iconoclastic Vision of Lynn Turgeon."
>One issue I brought up was the fact that Lynn was gay. This became an issue
>after his death because of a letter that Richard Cornwall wrote that
>appeared in an URPE Newsletter that some of you may have seen that
>denounced those who put out a memorial pamphlet about him after his death
>for not mentioning this fact. Cornwall, who has published a long paper in
>RRPE on Queer Theory, declared that Lynn wanted to be out (and about?) on
>this and participate in Cornwall's own agenda on this matter. However, we
>have not put any mention of this into our paper (after much internal
>discussion) because of the fact that Lynn never made any mention of it
>publicly in any speech or written outlet in his lifetime. Ric Holt spent
>three days tape recording Lynn's recollections of his life and work, and
>Lynn never mentioned it then either. The closest I ever saw him come to
>coming out was on the pkt list twice near the end of his life when he
>brought up Keynes' bisexuality and argued that Keynes' economics should be
>considered from this perspective. I suggested that this fact regarding Lynn
>may have influenced his sympathy with the underdog, such as the gypsies in
>Central Europe facing discrimination. I note that Lynn had a daughter and
>was still legally married to his wife, although long separated, at the time
>of his death two years ago.
>There was also discussion of how Lynn should be characterized. Although
>active on pkt and apparently sympathetic with many Post Keynesian ideas, he
>never seemed to accept that label. He did label himself in one of his books
>as a "classical Keynesian" and as near as I can tell Keynes was probably
>the economist he most admired. His last book (1996) was titled, _Bastard
>Keynesianism: The Evolution of Economic Thinking and Policymaking since
>World War II_, that title drawn, of course, from Joan Robinson very
>Lynn also labeled himself as a "revisionist" in his 1980 _The Advanced
>Capitalist System: A Revisionist View_. That book contains lectures he gave
>at Moscow State University in 1978 where he first met my wife Marina (he
>introduced us). I think that he used it to show his disdain for the
>orthodoxies of both East and West. The earlier versions of our paper had
>that in the title, but it has since disappeared.
>Finally he also labeled himself as "iconoclastic" and this certainly fit.
>Those who knew him realize that he loved to discomfit people with his
>unusual ideas. Thus he would speak of how Hitler had succeeded in applying
>Keynesian ideas. He voted for Nixon in 1960 because he saw Kennedy as a war
>mongerer who would expand the military-industrial complex. He supported the
>Reagan tax cuts. I have noted previously how he pointed out the low level
>of discrimination in the late Stalin period, and he also defended the
>productivity of collective farms in Eastern Europe, the better ag
>performance in Hungary compared to Poland supporting his arguments which
>even today remain largely unrecognized.
>Besides Ric Holt and myself, the other roundtablers were Tim Canova of the
>law school at University of New Mexico, and Robert Horn and Marina Rosser
>of James Madison University.
>In any case, many of us miss his wit and wisdom very much.
>That's all, folks.
>Barkley Rosser
>Louis Proyect
>Marxism mailing list:

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