Kahneman’s Failed Revolution Against Economic Orthodoxy by Zeljka Buturovic & Slavisa Tasic

To download the article by Buturovic and Tasic (from Critical Review) click on the link below.

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The original link to the article is here.

Excerpt:

It is clear that in making real-world decisions people rely on various authorities—family members, media reports, experts such as school counselors, therapists, and real-estate agents; that they succumb to peer pressure or conform to childbearing, lifestyle, and other norms of their immediate environment; and that they sometimes fail to anticipate changes in their situations and themselves as they age. In many cases, the mistakes one makes are essentially due to a failure of the imagination (creativity, divergent thinking): a failure to picture possible scenarios accurately enough or, alternatively, a tendency to weigh, however precisely, a too-limited set of options or to construct a restrictive and overly abstract set of outcomes. This could happen for various reasons, from lack of critical thinking to limited exposure to diverse possibilities to poor memory of various scenarios. Relying too much on statistical knowledge as a substitute for contextual understanding of future possibilities would exacerbate instead of ameliorating these tendencies; there is a reason why concern with creative thinking is a staple in business, clinical, and educational contexts, to the point where phrases like “thinking outside the box” have become clichés. It is in the discovery of options and possibilities where most of the challenge of decision making lies, not in precisely comparing predefined and given options.
Like orthodox neoclassical economics, behavioral economics does not tackle any of these important aspects of decision making; its findings, ultimately, tell us very little about how people think. Artificially induced quirks of human cognition are examined in excruciating detail while everyday decision making of great individual and social consequence are ignored.
Kahneman’s undue focus on cognitive blunders that are defined as departures from the rational-choice norm is symptomatic of his failure to liberate his decision theory from simple consequentialism. His book’s illustration of the “endowment effect” (292–93) is one of the most striking examples of the closure of his research agenda within the narrow neoclassical framework. “Professor R” (later known to be Richard Rosett at the University of Chicago) bought wine at auctions at a price not higher than $35. Professor R would, however, not sell the bottles he already bought unless he was offered more than $100, which Kahneman interprets as evidence of a bias towards overvaluing an object simply because one owns it. The endowment effect has been documented in other cases, of course, although its importance in economic contexts has been disputed (List 2003and 2004). Regardless of the existence of the effect itself, however, it is baffling that Kahneman would in the first place assume, for example, that Professor R is supposed to be a profit maximizer when it comes to his wine collection. The same is true of other behavioral economists; Richard Thaler (2015, 17) describes Rosett’s behavior as “not rational.” Yet the professor is obviously not a wine trader; he collects wine for pleasure. If we see an error in his actions, that is only because we implicitly treat him as a rational maximizer—and only in order to show that he is not a particularly good one.

Composition (HUM425)

analepsis

This photo of Joe McCarthy doppleganger Ted Cruz, among a series that were published then withdrawn by AP after complaints by several pundits, demonstrates emphatically that composition, the relationship between elements within the visual field, can signify powerfully. The photo was taken while Cruz, who wants to be your president, spoke at a “Celebrate the 2nd Amendment Shooting Range” in Johnston, Iowa on June 20.

credit: Charlie Niebergall credit: Charlie Niebergall

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Using ‘complexity thinking’ to manage an increasingly complex world – by Paul Cairney, Robert Geyer and Nicola Mathie

ElgarBlog from Edward Elgar Publishing

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Complex policy-making systems are ‘greater than the sum of their parts’.  To understand them we must examine not only the individuals involved but also the ways in which they interact with each other, to share information and combine to produce ‘systemic behaviour’.  Professor Paul Cairney,Professor Robert Geyer and Nicola Mathie consider what is involved in using ‘complexity thinking’ to inform policy decisions.

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Economics and the value of art

More than a “Veblen good” the recent record auction price for Picasso’s “Les femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’)” signals that the extraordinarily wealthy have nothing better to do with all of the surplus value that they have captured.

occasional links & commentary

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Neoclassical economists don’t have a lot to say about the value of art. Basically, they start from the proposition that a work of art, such as Picasso’s “Les femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’),” is often considered to have two different values: an aesthetic or cultural value (its cultural worth or significance) and a price or exchange-value (the amount of money a work of art fetches on the market). They then demonstrate that, within free markets, individual choices ensure that the price of art generally captures or represents all of the various dimensions of value attributable to the work of art, rendering the need for a separate concept of aesthetic or cultural value redundant. Therefore, on their view, Picasso’s painting is “worth” the record auction price of $179.37 million.*

But the Wall Street Journal (gated) observes that yesterday’s sale of other paintings—including Mark Rothko’s “Untitled (Yellow and Blue)”—reveals something else:

Some paintings act like object lessons in tracking the global…

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The new BIS ‘Handbook on security statistics’. A reason to celebrate.

Real-World Economics Review Blog

The BIS (Bank for International Settlements) has, together with the IMF and the ECB, published a new handbook on how to estimate debt. A reason to celebrate. Mainly, of course, as the handbook enables more consistent and better measurement of debt-securities (mortgages, bonds and the like). But also as this handbook shows how much economic statistics are consistent with the ideas and concepts of institutional and Post-Keynesian statistics. And how inconsistent with mainstream economics. About the first fact we can cite the website blurb (which does not mention the phrase ‘The Great North Atlantic post 2008 debt crisis’ but we all know what this is about):

The importance of securities markets in intermediating financial flows, both domestically and internationally, underscores the need for relevant, coherent and internationally comparable statistics. This need was recognised by the G20 Data Gaps Initiative

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Dollarama Inc hikes dividend by 12.5% as profit rises almost 30%

Business is booming at the low end of the social ladder.

Financial Post

MONTREAL — Dollarama Inc. says its fourth-quarter profit rose about 21 per cent to $100.3 million — above analyst estimates.

It also announced a hike to its quarterly dividend, which will rise by 12.5 per cent to nine cents per share, starting on May 7.

Dollarama’s profit amounted to 76 cents per share, up from 59 cents per share or $83 million in last year’s fourth quarter.

Analysts had estimated 71 cents per share of adjusted earnings and 75 cents per share on a fully reported basis.

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Sales for the Montreal-based company rose to $669 million for the quarter ended Feb. 1, up 14.9% from a year earlier, while sales for comparable locations were up 8.5 per cent.

The company says comparable-store growth was driven by a 3.6% increase in the number of transactions and a 4.7% increase in the average transaction value.

A year earlier, Dollarama’s sales…

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Models, maths and macro: A defence of Godley

Critical Macro Finance

To put it bluntly, the discipline of economics has yet to get over its childish passion for mathematics and for purely theoretical and often highly ideological speculation, at the expense of historical research and collaboration with the other social sciences.

The quote is, of course, from Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. Judging by Noah Smith’s recent blog entry, there is still progress to be made.

Smith observes that the performance of DSGE models is dependably poor in predicting future macroeconomic outcomes?precisely the task for which they are widely deployed. Critics of DSGE are however dismissed because?in a nutshell?there’s nothing better out there.

This argument is deficient in two respects. First, there is a self-evident flaw in a belief that, despite overwhelming and damning evidence that a particular tool is faulty?and dangerously so?that tool should not be abandoned because there is no obvious replacement.

The second deficiency relates…

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