[Marxism] non-political economics
schaffer at optonline.net
Sat Jan 28 15:17:50 MST 2006
i've been following the increased focus on physics and physical modeling
in economic analysis. this Times article interested me in this vein:
Students Are Leaving the Politics Out of Economics
By LOUIS UCHITELLE
Taking as a model the research techniques that Steven D. Levitt displays
in his best-selling book, "Freakonomics," graduate students in economics
are focusing on small insights about the economy rather than broad
theories that explain how the overall system works. In doing so, they
are withdrawing in effect from political debate.
The broad-brush approach was a defining characteristic of the economists
who were shaped by the Depression. The younger generation has tried to
shun prescriptions that seek to cure the economy's ills. Instead, they
cast economics as a scientific inquiry, using mathematical models, for
example, to explore the economy without becoming advocates for one
solution or another.
Mathematical modeling tries to determine such things as rates of
economic growth by plugging into computer models assumptions about
inflation, hiring and the like. It is still the thrust of graduate
training, but the students themselves are pushing for training in
another form of exploration — empirical research like that of Mr.
Levitt, which relies on statistical evidence.
The students, in their answers to the poll, applauded an education that
teaches them to be researchers and to stay away from policy. The poll
and its implications were debated in a panel discussion at the annual
meeting of the American Economic Association in Boston this month, and
in follow-up interviews.
Graduate schools rarely offer courses in the history of economic
thought, the poll showed, and fewer students than in the 1980's have
read the works of the giants in their field — Adam Smith, for example,
or David Ricardo, Alfred Marshall and John Maynard Keynes.
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