Irish Society of New Economists

The conference programme for the Irish Society of New Economists conference, taking place in Galway on 4th and 5th of September, is available here. Well done to the organisers Michelle Queally, Aine Roddy, Patricia Carney and Aoife Callan for putting together an extensive programme of 74 speakers.

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28 thoughts on “Irish Society of New Economists”

  1. Hi Gavin, that was fast.

    Yep! Someones may get a bit of a ‘surprise’. Being a ‘late lamb’ and all!

    At least there is some empirical (scientific and mathematical) evidence that refutes the crazy economic notion that one can expand a physical economic system indefinitely whilst consuming finite resources – not that it would make a blind bit of difference. Folk will believe what they want to believe – despite the evidence. Let see how it goes.

  2. No, just wondering at the sponsors… ESRI, IDA, Dept of Finance manquee…. I guess the Fiscal Council/ IMF connections are handy. I wonder how much they have given, what the process is for seeking sponsorship, and so forth. It looks a good conference if rather “Safe”.

  3. Gavin, now some decorum, please!

    Seafóid: Can’t print off that unm.edu doc. ?? Will keep trying. Thanks.

    If anyone wants a preview to critique – let me have a contact address (snail or e-mail). I’d appreciate it. Thanks

    Brian

  4. @Brian Woods Snr.

    Well done! Post the paper here later on.

    @seafoid

    Europeans, and particularly the European elite, find popular attitudes to science among many across the Atlantic both amusing and distressing. In Europe we do not have regular attempts to replace evolution with ‘intelligent design’ on school curriculums. Climate change denial is not mainstream politics in Europe as it is in the US (with the possible exception of the UK). Yet Europe, and particularly its governing elite, seems gripped by a belief that is as unscientific and more immediately dangerous. It is a belief that fiscal policy should be tightened in a liquidity trap.

    Paul De Grauwe puts it eloquently.

    European policymakers are doing everything they can to stop recovery taking off, so they should not be surprised if there is in fact no take-off. It is balanced-budget fundamentalism, and it has become religious.

    http://www.social-europe.eu/2014/08/balanced-budget-fundamentalism/

  5. @ DoD

    Why anyone would want Europe to follow Japan is beyond me

    Maybe Douglas Feith isn’t the stupidest f$cking man on the planet.

  6. @seafoid

    Plenty of Feith’s neocon ilk still creating havoc – look at Nuland in Ukraine …

    What we see as ‘stupid’ is actually ‘intentional’ from a neocon perspective;

    As for the EZ, who stands to gain from the ordoliberal fetish of the deutsche elite? The idiocy of the stupid ‘fiscal corset’ in ‘law’ …

    http://www.nndb.com/people/100/000047956/

  7. DOCM
    My scepticism is not in any way towards what seems a good initiative to get younger reserachers up on the stage and talking. So, no, I wont join your club. I have some mild surprise at the sponsors.
    Anything that encourages new people to take up analyses is good.

  8. @ Sam Maguire

    (i) How new are they?

    (ii) And what does the term mean?

    Economics both as a discipline and a profession is in a state of existential crisis, at least as viewed from outside, and until those involved face up to this reality there will be a continuation of meaningless conferences.

    Largely funded by the unfortunate taxpayer!

  9. @ DOCM: I’ve edited your paragraph somewhat – the better to reflect ‘reality’ – as they say.

    Economics both as a discipline and a profession is in a state of existential crisis, at least as viewed by many who live outside the Tent of Economics, and until those who live inside that tent face up to this reality there will be a continuation of meaningless conferences.

    Your (and you are not alone in this) idea, belief, view, opinion, or whatever, that “… those involved will face up to this reality …” is a complete non-starter. They already possess and cherish a reality. They are sincerely content with this reality. They will fight-to-the-death to defend this reality rather that reject it in favour of an alternative reality. Even, and most especially, if the active accumulation of new evidence overwhelmingly refutes their reality they will identify a single incorrect fact (there is always at least one), then use this small exception to rubbish the entire body of refuting evidence.

    “It is better to change the manner in which a man perceives the world than it is to change the world he perceives.”

    [Martin Booth: ‘A Very Private Gentleman’] – made into a film ‘The American’.

    “Largely funded by the unfortunate taxpayer!” Now which group of political traitors impaled the Irish citizens – taxpayers and non-taxpayers alike, on the hook for the massive debts of private – and very badly managed Irish companies? “Ah! – the poor lambs!”.

    @ Seafóid: Thanks a bunch for that link – very, very informative!

  10. @ BW

    “Economics both as a discipline and a profession is in a state of existential crisis”

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/dfd84240-dcd5-11e3-ba13-00144feabdc0.html

    Very good comments as well eg

    “Oh and by the way, we were taught to think Long Term. Short term thinking leads to unintended consequences. It is easy to make decisions that appear to be sound from now to two or three years out. Thinking long term tends to form logical as well as rational decisions that avoid these consequences.”

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Very-Silly-Mayor-Tomorrow/dp/1935439014/

  11. @ BWS et al

    My intention is to register a view – necessarily limited as it is an external one – of the lack of relevance of much of what appears to be under discussion by the economics profession in general and this conference in particular. By way of example, I cannot find a single reference to the euro in the conference programme (although there are certain papers which deal with aspects of Ireland’s euro membership).

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/64217ffa-2946-11e4-baec-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3B0o6RnPq

    It is clear that economists have a central role to play but their efforts, in Ireland and elsewhere, seem to lack any focus and the necessary levels of specialisation related to the various sectors of the real economy of whatever country they are actively engaged in. For this reason, I think, again by way of example, that the idea of a central economic evaluation service is fundamentally mistaken. The modern economy is too complex for such an approach (and the the fact is implicitly recognised in the continued extensive reliance by departments on the services of outside consultants).

    It is no accident that it is in the countries with the most successful integration of the economics profession into the actual policy-making process that are the most successful economically.

  12. @ DOCM: I have formed the opinion, based on personal observations and experiences that economists have a particular mindset or psychological Model-in-Use, and this model ‘dictates’ their behaviours – particularly in respect of their commentary and statements in respect of what is commonly known as ‘growth’. Economic growth being both a mandatory and essential attribute and characteristic of our contemporary economies.

    The model of economic ‘growth’ that is currently propounded and supported is fundamentally flawed due to the fact that it is constructed on unrealistic assumptions. And it is proving next to impossible to get this unpleasant fact accepted. What is especially maddening is that some key economic assumptions are directly and flatly contradicted by the immutable laws of nature and the iron rules of exponential growth functions. So, one must ask the question: why the refusal to accept the evidence and re-work the model?

    I’d defer to Liam Delaney on this one. He is the one who is promoting Behavioural Economics – and the answer to my question (and an unpleasant one it is) lies there.

    Anyway, the entire issue is at its base, a political one. It would be one quite foolish person who would attempt to explain the physical realities of economic activity to serving politicians – realities which have very unpleasant implications for them.

    The situation abides.

  13. @ BWS

    I think we may be talking about two different topics. My own experience and training is not such as to allow me to come to any definitive view on the “model in use” and the points that you make about it. For me, and I suspect the vast majority of lay observers, whose interest, it might be said, was forced upon them by events, the topical issue is (i) the relevance of what is being researched and expounded in the area of economics to real life and (ii) whether it gives any worthwhile guidance. No less a person than the Queen of England, as you will certainly recall, raised the issue in a very public – probably inadvertently – way.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/nov/18/response-credit-crisis-economy-response

    If the fundamental model and mathematics underpinning the present approach (even that in use by the ECB in the opinion of Munchau), I wish you the best of luck in demonstrating the point.

    My concern is more workaday and best illustrated by this recent item;

    http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/private-sector-wont-be-left-behind-minister-30500057.html

    The logic of the political exchanges in question is a reflection of the majority balance of vested interests in the country which imagines that it is the public sector which is pulling the economic train when only the very reverse can possibly be true. If the case were otherwise, even third world countries would have first world services!

  14. @ BWS

    This is the model to which Munchau took exception.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.0021-9886.2004.00532.x/abstract

    (Full text available only to subscribers).

    Also of possible interest this brilliant IMHO commentary by Barry Eichengreen.

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/70fbe266-2940-11e4-8b81-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3B0o6RnPq

    One could, however, quibble with this conclusion.

    “The ECB has resisted loosening monetary policy for fear that such a stimulus would reduce the perceived urgency of reforms. This misguided priority has thrust Europe to the verge of deflation. It is a prime example of what a central bank should not do.”

    The ECB sees structural reforms as the preserve of governments and has made no secret of the fact that it holds this opinion. What it has been hamstrung by is not fear of the failure of governments to act but of the reaction of its principal shareholder to their failure to do so.

  15. @DOCM

    Thanks for link to Draghi speech.

    He sounds like a man without a whip in his hand, flailing in all directions.
    Monetary, fiscal, ‘structural, education etc.

    But still harping on about structural reforms and an ‘unskilled’ unemployment problem. The harsh reality is that most countries have exported ‘unskilled’ employment jobs to the East, and other than German and perhaps Austria, are not exporting enough technology products to compensate.
    [Neither will Germany/Austria shortly either, as the so-called low-technology East makes its own products.]
    Brian Woods is correct than the world’s growth model is unsustainable. It is also completely out of balance vis a vis human skills, in both West and East.
    Not all people in the East that make the products we consume are low-skilled duffers, and not all the people who make the technology products the ‘West’ sells to the East are budding Einsteins.

    But Draghi is correct on one score. The idea that high unemployment in some EZ countries is the price to be paid for a so-called EZ/ EU balance of payments, when it is in reality a German/ Austrian surplus cum full employment combined with chronic unemployment in other EZ countries, is not a proposition that is going to sustain the EZ for much longer.

    The prospect of reading every Sunday about the adventures of the various ‘Jeep and Jezebel’ sets , should start to wear very thin soon.

  16. DOCM: Thanks for those comments and the Draghi link – is this person sentient? Or what?

    ” …the way back to higher employment, in other words, is a policy mix that combines monetary, fiscal and structural measures at the union level and at the national level.”

    Hello there Mario! A real increase in waged-labour positions – which pay enough for a person to live – rather than to exist, is impossible if you insist on supporting destructive policies in respect of manufacturing for export outside the EU. Is Chindia the new black in productivity and competition? Looks like it. And if so, its goodnight and goodbye to any hope of improvements in waged-labour positions. The man is a complete ass!

    In respect of economic models-in-use, the best I have ever encountered was described by Paul Samuelson: chapts 4 + 5 in his undergraduate textbook – ‘Economics’ published in 1948. I managed to secure an ex- public library copy in 2102: the book had never been opened! What does that say?

    Most academic ‘research’ appears to be conducted in order to secure PhD qualifications or to publish journal papers for appointments, tenure and promotions. Ignorant experts issue forth.

    “Every teacher knows how apt his best pupils are to acquire and follow the achievements of the past and the present, so that by the age of twenty they often may have a vaster range of knowledge than any of the pioneers that contributed to the subject. Yet how rare, so far at least, is it to find these uniquely equipped and finished repositories of knowledge capable of making a single step forward, that is not merely imitative …”
    [Frederick Soddy, 1921]

    – and much thanks to Seafóid who provided me with the link to a BioScience paper which contained the reference to Soddy’s lecture to undergrads in Birbeck College and the London School of Economics.

  17. @DOCM

    For me, and I suspect the vast majority of lay observers, whose interest, it might be said, was forced upon them by events, the topical issue is (i) the relevance of what is being researched and expounded in the area of economics to real life and (ii) whether it gives any worthwhile guidance.

    Since you hold to the most doctrinaire neoliberalism imaginable you are in fact committed strongly to a particular school of economics and you believe that it is relevant and offers worthwhile guidance. Everyone has a model even if it dare not speak its name.

    You say:

    The ECB sees structural reforms as the preserve of governments and has made no secret of the fact that it holds this opinion.

    Sorry, but that is horseshit. Simon Wren Lewis talks about the political bias and interference in fiscal policy by the ECB, here as revealed by Draghi’s recent speech at JH:

    http://mainlymacro.blogspot.ie/2014/08/draghi-at-jackson-hole.html

    As I noted in an earlier post, the ECB’s own research found that “the ECB communicates intensively on fiscal policies in both positive as well as normative terms….The other point to note, of course, is that the ECB had in the past always called for fiscal consolidation, whatever the macroeconomic situation…..

    So the ECB definitely does involve itself in lobbying for, and sometimes effectively mandating, structural reforms and always supply side ones. It also lobbies for budget cuts whatever the state of the economy.

    Wren Lewis continues:

    However note also the second sentence, which clearly implies that the size of the state in Euro area countries is too large. Whether you believe this to be true or not, it is an overtly political statement. I think part of the problem is that Draghi and the ECB as a whole do not see it as such – instead they believe that large states simply generate economic inefficiencies, so calling for less government spending and taxation is similar to calling for other ‘structural reforms’ designed to improve efficiency and growth.

    The simple explanation for the ECB’s obsession, until now, with fiscal consolidation is that its members take the neoliberal position as self evident, and that their lack of accountability to the democratic process allows them to believe this is not political.

    And of course this doctrinaire neoliberalism coupled with monetary hawkishness has been a disaster, a disaster for which no one will be brought to task because the European Union institutions making and shaping policy are not democratic, open or accountable.

    This means that a group of callous unelected incompetent self aggrandizing dimwitted right wing ideologues are in charge of European Union economic and monetary policy and they can not be dislodged. The only defence of Europhiles for the situation is that “We signed up for it” and now we have to stick with it.

    I am pretty certain that the “this” we have in the Eurozone is not the “it” we believed we were signing up for.

  18. Ooops.



    The only defence of Europhiles for the situation is that “We signed up for this and now we have to stick with it."

    I am pretty certain that the “this” we have in the Eurozone is not the “it” we believed we were signing up for.

    Larry Elliot in the Guardian on the uselessness of EU policy economic and monetary policy making.

    The eurozone needs an alternative solution to its economic woes

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