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Ed Miliband


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#41 Severus

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 11:01 AM

One thing that perhaps could be levied against Ed Miliband's ambition is that, following his gaining the leadership, and after being with his partner for over ten years,  he seemed to get married to get a better image.

 

I'm getting married to my partner of 15 years, am I doing it for a better image?


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#42 Shadow

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 11:20 AM

I'm getting married to my partner of 15 years, am I doing it for a better image?

Are you leader of the Labour Party?


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#43 Martyn Sadler

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 11:44 AM

It seems to have been understood by them far better than by many of the current governments of the world who have largely based their economic policy on a spreadsheet error.

 

Steve, you must have been expecting someone to ask you to explain this statement.

 

So I'll take the bait.

 

Please explain!



#44 Derwent

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 11:51 AM

 

Steve, you must have been expecting someone to ask you to explain this statement.
 
So I'll take the bait.
 
Please explain!

It was announced a couple of weeks ago that 2 Harvard economists had made an error in an Excel spreadsheet model which skewed the outcome badly. The spreadsheet had formed the basis of the key economic paper that many governments had used to set their economic policy since 2010 including the US Treasury.

http://www.reuters.c...E93H0CV20130418

#45 Steve May

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 12:02 PM

Steve, you must have been expecting someone to ask you to explain this statement.
 
So I'll take the bait.
 
Please explain!

Actually, I wasn't fishing there at all! I kind of assumed that anyone who would be interested in this story would have heard it.

The link provided by Derwent explains it all.

Perhaps the most significant contribution to our understanding of the origins of the crisis has been made by professor Ken Rogoff, former chief economist at the IMF, and his co-author, Carmen Reinhart. The latest research suggests that once debt reaches more than about 90% of GDP, the risks of a large negative impact on long-term growth become highly significant.

And it turned out that "the latest research" was completely wrong. It turns out that a duff spreadsheet is the intellectual underpinning of much of the economic policy of the developed world.

That's me.  I'm done.


#46 Northern Sol

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 12:07 PM

It seems to have been understood by them far better than by many of the current governments of the world who have largely based their economic policy on a spreadsheet error.

Oh yeah because there only are about four economic papers written so each one is of enormous importance.....

 

That's a very skewed summary based no doubt on reading a very sloppy piece of journalism and no understanding of the underlying concepts.

 

The truth of the matter is that debts have to be paid back at some point - unless you want to go bust. This is as basic as saying that the world isn't flat.

 

Debts spiral because you have to pay interest on them and that interest rate is almost always higher than inflation. Nothing earth shattering there.

 

Therefore what you don't pay today, will be paid tomorrow with interest.

 

You don't need to study economics to see the logic of trying to stop debts escalating. This was the understanding that most people had before anyone invented Excel.

 

The only embarrassing detail is that the fear of future debt repayments doesn't cause GDP to shrink nearly as much as previously thought. It still does shrink though.



#47 Northern Sol

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 12:08 PM

Actually, I wasn't fishing there at all! I kind of assumed that anyone who would be interested in this story would have heard it.

The link provided by Derwent explains it all.And it turned out that "the latest research" was completely wrong. It turns out that a duff spreadsheet is the intellectual underpinning of much of the economic policy of the developed world.

Only in the minds of those who studied history at university.



#48 gingerjon

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 12:09 PM

Are you leader of the Labour Party?

 

I don't believe they've ever been seen in the same room at the same time.


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#49 tonyXIII

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 12:13 PM

Actually, I wasn't fishing there at all! I kind of assumed that anyone who would be interested in this story would have heard it.

The link provided by Derwent explains it all.And it turned out that "the latest research" was completely wrong. It turns out that a duff spreadsheet is the intellectual underpinning of much of the economic policy of the developed world.

 

So we have economists who can't do maths? No wonder we're in the manure!


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#50 Northern Sol

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 12:22 PM

So we have economists who can't do maths? No wonder we're in the manure!

I think the bigger problem is that politicians and political activists latch onto economic theories that seem to validate their political ideology without really understanding the theories or the debate surrounding them. Hence we have the re-interpretation of the great liberal capitalist Keynes as the guru of socialist state driven economics which is an aberration in itself before contemplating the changes in the world economy since the 1930s.



#51 tonyXIII

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 12:32 PM

I think the bigger problem is that politicians and political activists latch onto economic theories that seem to validate their political ideology without really understanding the theories or the debate surrounding them. Hence we have the re-interpretation of the great liberal capitalist Keynes as the guru of socialist state driven economics which is an aberration in itself before contemplating the changes in the world economy since the 1930s.

 

You are right, but my views are coloured by my experience of the Social Science, which included Economics) students at uni. Their apparent lack of rigour (ie. ability to prove their theories rather than just present them as if they were fact) caused me to despise the use of "Science" in this context. I still don't think Economics has a basis in provable theories.

 

I should say that I found Economics students personable and friendly (one such is the only friend from any faculty I have stayed in touch with after 40 years). It is the subject I have little time for.


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#52 Northern Sol

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 12:47 PM

You are right, but my views are coloured by my experience of the Social Science, which included Economics) students at uni. Their apparent lack of rigour (ie. ability to prove their theories rather than just present them as if they were fact) caused me to despise the use of "Science" in this context. I still don't think Economics has a basis in provable theories.

 

I should say that I found Economics students personable and friendly (one such is the only friend from any faculty I have stayed in touch with after 40 years). It is the subject I have little time for.

It's a general problem in economics that those who sign up for economics degrees aren't necessarily very good at maths. We should treat the subject a bit more like engineering in my view. Those who stay on in the profession are another matter.

 

Economics does have a basis in provable theories, it's just that the subject as taught in the UK, doesn't emphasize the need to recite proofs. In my experience, proofs could even be glossed over or ignored.

 

It's a science like psychology is a science but not a science like physics or chemistry.



#53 Wolford6

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 01:03 PM

I'm getting married to my partner of 15 years, am I doing it for a better image?

 


Anything's worth a try.

 

;) :D


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#54 gingerjon

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 01:04 PM

It's a general problem in economics that those who sign up for economics degrees aren't necessarily very good at maths. We should treat the subject a bit more like engineering in my view. Those who stay on in the profession are another matter.

 

Economics does have a basis in provable theories, it's just that the subject as taught in the UK, doesn't emphasize the need to recite proofs. In my experience, proofs could even be glossed over or ignored.

 

It's a science like psychology is a science but not a science like physics or chemistry.

Genuine question then: if one wanted to get a grounding in the provable basis of economics what should one read?


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#55 Wolford6

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 01:09 PM

Genuine question then: if one wanted to get a grounding in the provable basis of economics what should one read?

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#56 Steve May

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 01:13 PM

Oh yeah because there only are about four economic papers written so each one is of enormous importance.....
 
That's a very skewed summary based no doubt on reading a very sloppy piece of journalism and no understanding of the underlying concepts.
 
The truth of the matter is that debts have to be paid back at some point - unless you want to go bust. This is as basic as saying that the world isn't flat.
 
Debts spiral because you have to pay interest on them and that interest rate is almost always higher than inflation. Nothing earth shattering there.
 
Therefore what you don't pay today, will be paid tomorrow with interest.
 
You don't need to study economics to see the logic of trying to stop debts escalating. This was the understanding that most people had before anyone invented Excel.
 
The only embarrassing detail is that the fear of future debt repayments doesn't cause GDP to shrink nearly as much as previously thought. It still does shrink though.

I'm no economist (I am ###### hot at Excel for a start, which overqualifies me) but it does seem that there are lots of economists (proper ones, with Nobel Prizes and "A Dummy's Guide to Excel 2003" on their bookshelves) that would disagree with much of what you've put there.

Maybe you're right and they're all wrong. I don't know. But I find economics fascinating. It seems much more of a black art than a science to me.


One thing I do know is that debts don't have to be paid back. I once heard that the UK government still pays out on bonds sold to fund the Napoleonic Wars. No idea if that is actually true.


"You don't need to study economics to see the logic of trying to stop debts escalating. This was the understanding that most people had before anyone invented Excel."

That line of reasoning worries me BTW. There are lots of things that "logic" tells you should be true, but aren't. Science was invented precisely because this line of reasoning was so poor at actually working out how the world really does work. One would hope that, with the remarkable increase in computing power and data storage, economics could move towards a more empirical evidence base and away from old fashioned common sense dressed up as "logic"

That's me.  I'm done.


#57 Steve May

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 01:16 PM

Economics does have a basis in provable theories, it's just that the subject as taught in the UK, doesn't emphasize the need to recite proofs. In my experience, proofs could even be glossed over or ignored.
 
It's a science like psychology is a science but not a science like physics or chemistry.

Are these mathematically provable or empirically provable? The history of science is littered with beautiful and mathematically perfect theories that unfortunately happened to be not true.

That's me.  I'm done.


#58 Northern Sol

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 01:17 PM

Genuine question then: if one wanted to get a grounding in the provable basis of economics what should one read?

 

Most textbooks are produced for the undergraduate market and thus cover what the student needs to know which is usually the theory itself. You can deduce the basic mathematics behind the model if you have a decent i.e. good A-level knowledge of Maths and have studied philosophy but those elements are not usually explicitly laid out.

 

Economics papers (with the odd exception) are far more rigorous but aren't really "basic". Sadly most economics graduates skip the proofs and read the intro and the conclusions. 



#59 Steve May

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 01:18 PM

Ooops!

Edited by Steve May, 08 May 2013 - 01:18 PM.

That's me.  I'm done.


#60 Northern Sol

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 01:24 PM

I'm no economist (I am ###### hot at Excel for a start, which overqualifies me) but it does seem that there are lots of economists (proper ones, with Nobel Prizes and "A Dummy's Guide to Excel 2003" on their bookshelves) that would disagree with much of what you've put there.

Maybe you're right and they're all wrong. I don't know. But I find economics fascinating. It seems much more of a black art than a science to me.


One thing I do know is that debts don't have to be paid back. I once heard that the UK government still pays out on bonds sold to fund the Napoleonic Wars. No idea if that is actually true.


"You don't need to study economics to see the logic of trying to stop debts escalating. This was the understanding that most people had before anyone invented Excel."

That line of reasoning worries me BTW. There are lots of things that "logic" tells you should be true, but aren't. Science was invented precisely because this line of reasoning was so poor at actually working out how the world really does work. One would hope that, with the remarkable increase in computing power and data storage, economics could move towards a more empirical evidence base and away from old fashioned common sense dressed up as "logic"

I'd like to know which ones would disagree.

 

The model I put forward is simple because it is a tl;dr version of economics. Reality is even more brutal as debt level rises so does the interest rate and debt spirals  faster than I suggested it would.

 

We may not need to make the final payment on Napoleanic debt but as you say, we are still paying it.

 

Economics is actually not common sense meets logic. Much of what economics says contradicts what "most people think". It is based on rigorous mathematical models but you don't need to understand these models in order to get a Bachelor's degree.






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