Entries Tagged 'Reviews' ↓

What’s up for 2016?

Forecasting an economic recession  

A number of serious indicators of recession in the US and elsewhere in the world have been visibly in play since last fall.

Predictions of an upcoming crisis are seen daily in foreign news sources and online. But how can we know for sure what’s going to happen?

Right now the biggest downturn lies in the financial markets in the US and elsewhere. Stocks have plunged this year. Likewise, long-term US government bonds (e.g., thirty-year treasury bonds) are becoming less popular with buyers too.

The long-term government-bond trend is a good indicator of recession, but the current stock market slump isn’t necessarily so.
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Two Mystery Books Connected With Economics

Fatal Equilibrium by Marshall Jevons (Ballentine Books 1985)

Fatal Equilibrium I reviewed Marshall Jevons’ (pseudonym for two economists’) first book, Murder at the Margin, a couple years ago. I sent for the sequel, Fatal Equilibrium, but was sorely disappointed.

Fatal Equilibrium has a few moments of levity, but overall it lacks the delightful explorations of economic theory in response to a murder when Professor Henry Spearman and his wife are vacationing on a remote Caribbean island resort.

On the contrary, Fatal Equilibrium is didactic, cerebral, and as bloodless as the murder of its main character, Dennis Gossen, a quite unlikeable tenure candidate in the Economics Department at Harvard University.

Unfortunately, if you’re a fan of Harvard or Cambridge, Massachusetts you won’t see either place in this book—the only memorable setting for Henry Spearman’s economic thoughts is at the clothing sales melee in the basement of Filene’s Department Store. Continue reading →

Class Conflict – Why Occupy Is For The 99 Percent

Historical class conflicts

The field of economics used to be called political economy. There was a reason for this. At the time the field was first formed the interaction between classes of people was considered a fundamental part of economics, and class conflict was usually a political fight over scarce resources.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, economists, many of them French, began to work out the mechanisms of trade or commerce. These guys came up with notions of “supply and demand,” “labor value,” and “pricing”. The earliest political economists also made attempts to define human nature, with most taking the Christian position that human beings are innately sinful. The main conflict that they focused on in the rising age of global shipping (via the East Indies Company) was that between “buyers” and “sellers”. Continue reading →