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#61 Steve May

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 01:49 PM

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.

It's the rigorous mathematical models which worry me. There's a really rather beautiful and rigorous piece of maths that sites behind JJ Thompson's "Plum Pudding" model of the atom. Sadly, it's not actually how atoms work.

That's me.  I'm done.


#62 Steve May

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 01:57 PM

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

And we don't necessarily have to do that.

Looking into this further (bored at work) and I find that the various nations lent each other large sums to pay for the First World War and payments were suspended in 1934 and never started again. Apparently it is no longer possible to work out who owes what to how and so the debt is "suspended" but hasn't been written off. No payments are even made to cover the interest, and haven't been for close on 80 years.

So it turns out that you may not have to pay off debts after all.

I am fairly convinced at the moment that the debt argument is a political one and has limited, if any, basis in economics.

But hey, what do I know?

That's me.  I'm done.


#63 fieldofclothofgold

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 02:01 PM

I noticed that on Peinar politics a couple of weeks ago the whole program was about how low the Labour lead is

At the moment I reckon Labour are getting a pretty raw deal from the media. Especially the BBC.  Anyone who heard Martha Kearney's interview with the three party leaders must surely come to the same conclusion.  Last Monday Milliband, announced as the "Leader of the Labour Party" - not "The Leader of the Opposition" was given a really hard time by Kearney, with interuptions, not allowing him to finish sentences and talking over him.  Cameron (The Prime Minister) was allowed to smoothly put his points, avoid awkward questions and attack Labour.  I didn't hear the interview with Clegg but did hear him described as "Deputy Prime Minister" 

Overall there seems to be a general attempt to belittle Milliband - similar to the tactics used upon Kinnock.  I also heard a Today interview with Harriet Harman and the hectoring interupting was similar to that used on Milliband.

I've also noticed on the World at One on the occasional Wednesday when Cameron deigns to answer questions that if he has a success over Milliband Kearney is quick to point this out - however if the boot is on  the other foot Milliband's victory is ignored.  The Beeb these days appears to have a definite pro Tory tone. But then it's run by an ex Tory minister so what can you expect?


Edited by fieldofclothofgold, 08 May 2013 - 02:02 PM.

but you and I weve been through that and this is not our fate.
So let us so let us not talk falsely now.
The hour is getting late
FROM 2004,TO DO WHAT THIS CLUB HAS DONE,IF THATS NOT GREATNESSTHEN i DONT KNOW WHAT IS.

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#64 Northern Sol

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 03:19 PM

It's the rigorous mathematical models which worry me. There's a really rather beautiful and rigorous piece of maths that sites behind JJ Thompson's "Plum Pudding" model of the atom. Sadly, it's not actually how atoms work.

It doesn't need to be "how atoms work". It needs to be an accurate approximation of how atoms work.

 

Newton's laws of motions might not have been entirely accurate but they served a purpose.



#65 Northern Sol

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 03:26 PM

And we don't necessarily have to do that.

Looking into this further (bored at work) and I find that the various nations lent each other large sums to pay for the First World War and payments were suspended in 1934 and never started again. Apparently it is no longer possible to work out who owes what to how and so the debt is "suspended" but hasn't been written off. No payments are even made to cover the interest, and haven't been for close on 80 years.

So it turns out that you may not have to pay off debts after all.

I am fairly convinced at the moment that the debt argument is a political one and has limited, if any, basis in economics.

But hey, what do I know?

No, you do need to pay off debts unless your creditors agree to a suspension or a cancellation of the debt. No chance of that these days.

 

The alternative is to declare bankruptcy but then you need to balance the books anyway since nobody will lend you any cash immediately after you refuse to honour your existing debts. This means you can only spend what you earn; the "alternative solution" to austerity involves creating a balanced budget - the irony.

 

What governments have tended to do is print lots of money since the debts are in their sovereign currency which they can print at very little cost. This has meant inflation that reduces the value of every pound by a fraction. This is a "stealth tax" equivalent to putting up taxes and reducing wages / benefits. Again the alternative to austerity is austerity under a different name.



#66 Steve May

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 03:45 PM

It doesn't need to be "how atoms work". It needs to be an accurate approximation of how atoms work.
 
Newton's laws of motions might not have been entirely accurate but they served a purpose.

But the point is that it wasn't a particularly close approximation of how atoms work, although the maths was very nice and very rigorous. You appear to be saying that economics is full of rigorous maths, but that's useless if it doesn't stack up against reality.


Newton's laws are elegant but the real point is that they work very, very well indeed against reality in almost every practical situation. You drive your car according to Newtonian laws of motion - except for your SatNav, which has corrections for Relativity. What matters is that it works, nothing else.


So where is the evidence base for the claims of economists? When I hear an economist tell me that high national debt reduces growth permanently, where is the evidence for that? Is it really true, or is it just a prediction that should be true according to the currently fashionable theory.

That's me.  I'm done.


#67 Steve May

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 03:49 PM

No, you do need to pay off debts unless your creditors agree to a suspension or a cancellation of the debt. No chance of that these days.

So, except for the debt that is hundreds or years old and we have never paid back, and the debt that we simply stopped paying back and noone really minded, we have to pay it all back?

Who are Britain's creditors? Who are we paying this money back to?

That's me.  I'm done.


#68 Northern Sol

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 04:41 PM

But the point is that it wasn't a particularly close approximation of how atoms work, although the maths was very nice and very rigorous. You appear to be saying that economics is full of rigorous maths, but that's useless if it doesn't stack up against reality.


Newton's laws are elegant but the real point is that they work very, very well indeed against reality in almost every practical situation. You drive your car according to Newtonian laws of motion - except for your SatNav, which has corrections for Relativity. What matters is that it works, nothing else.


So where is the evidence base for the claims of economists? When I hear an economist tell me that high national debt reduces growth permanently, where is the evidence for that? Is it really true, or is it just a prediction that should be true according to the currently fashionable theory.

The essential difference between economics and physics is that both describe reality but that humans are odd creatures. Reality can change in economics but not in physics.

 

Economic models predict what is likely to happen based on what we know of humans. It's not exact but it's as good as we can achieve. However, there is the distinct possibility that at some point our models may need to change just as they have done in the past.



#69 Northern Sol

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 04:43 PM

So, except for the debt that is hundreds or years old and we have never paid back, and the debt that we simply stopped paying back and noone really minded, we have to pay it all back?

Who are Britain's creditors? Who are we paying this money back to?

A mixture of private individuals, funds such as pension providers, banks, other governments. The largest group will be Britons.



#70 tonyXIII

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 05:43 PM

But the point is that it wasn't a particularly close approximation of how atoms work, although the maths was very nice and very rigorous. You appear to be saying that economics is full of rigorous maths, but that's useless if it doesn't stack up against reality.


Newton's laws are elegant but the real point is that they work very, very well indeed against reality in almost every practical situation. You drive your car according to Newtonian laws of motion - except for your SatNav, which has corrections for Relativity. What matters is that it works, nothing else.


So where is the evidence base for the claims of economists? When I hear an economist tell me that high national debt reduces growth permanently, where is the evidence for that? Is it really true, or is it just a prediction that should be true according to the currently fashionable theory.

 

Unless I've misread recent posts, both you and NS are basically saying the same thing. We should be very careful when taking an economist's word for something. They sound convincing, but there is no real empirical evidence that what they are saying is true. Indeed, it would be impossible to gather such evidence. What would you use as an experimental test bed, there is no such thing as a "laboratory economy", only the real world. If you get your "experiment" wrong in the real world, people lose jobs and homes and countries like Iceland, Spain, Greece and Cyprus end up in a real mess. In the end, though, it is the politicians who should exercise caution when dealing with economics and not, as you say, just follow the currently fashionable theory.


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#71 Northern Sol

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 05:46 PM

Unless I've misread recent posts, both you and NS are basically saying the same thing. We should be very careful when taking an economist's word for something. They sound convincing, but there is no real empirical evidence that what they are saying is true. Indeed, it would be impossible to gather such evidence. What would you use as an experimental test bed, there is no such thing as a "laboratory economy", only the real world. If you get your "experiment" wrong in the real world, people lose jobs and homes and countries like Iceland, Spain, Greece and Cyprus end up in a real mess. In the end, though, it is the politicians who should exercise caution when dealing with economics and not, as you say, just follow the currently fashionable theory.

There is no empirical evidence based on controlled experiments but we do have data collected from the real world. It is better to make decisions with imperfect models and imperfect data than to throw it all away and hope that we make good decisions with no data and no models.



#72 tonyXIII

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 05:50 PM

There is no empirical evidence based on controlled experiments but we do have data collected from the real world. It is better to make decisions with imperfect models and imperfect data than to throw it all away and hope that we make good decisions with no data and no models.

 

Go on, I'll accept that, but those imperfect models and data really need to be checked (peer reviewed?) very carefully when all our futures depend on the decisions.


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#73 Trojan

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 09:17 PM

BBC Radio 4 "More or Less" on said spreadsheet

http://www.bbc.co.uk...ries/moreorless


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#74 Northern Sol

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:55 PM

Go on, I'll accept that, but those imperfect models and data really need to be checked (peer reviewed?) very carefully when all our futures depend on the decisions.

They generally are. I daresay that some major historian or other has cocked up his methodology on some study or other and been found out later. I doubt anyone said that the whole academic subject of history was a bit suspect.

 

The other thing being that there have been no dramatic reversals of policy since this revelation. As ever the media have over-hyped the significance of this particular study. If the entire intellectual justification for austerity really rested on this one study, you'd have thought that the error would have been picked up before now.



#75 gingerjon

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 07:23 AM

Can we get this thread back on topic ED MILLIBAND the marxist champagne socialist idiot :(((

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#76 Steve May

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 11:54 AM

Unless I've misread recent posts, both you and NS are basically saying the same thing.

Shhh! If word of that gets out I'm finished round here.

That's me.  I'm done.


#77 Steve May

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 11:58 AM

The other thing being that there have been no dramatic reversals of policy since this revelation. As ever the media have over-hyped the significance of this particular study. If the entire intellectual justification for austerity really rested on this one study, you'd have thought that the error would have been picked up before now.

This is sort of true, but there has been a general softening of the stance by a number of notable groups. I don't think this is related to the problems with this paper exactly, but more related to the lack of obvious results from policies that have been enacted.

Also, policy as implemented by governments is driven by politics and not economics. The government's economic policy is critical to them. By over egging the threats facing the economy a few years ago for purely political reasons they have now left themselves little wiggle room to change course.

Even if the economics was nailed on one way or the other, politics will always trump it.

That's me.  I'm done.


#78 gingerjon

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 12:22 PM

Unless I've misread recent posts, both you and NS are basically saying the same thing.

Yet, like all great political debates, taking different positions to what those words mean.
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#79 Northern Sol

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 12:35 PM

This is sort of true, but there has been a general softening of the stance by a number of notable groups. I don't think this is related to the problems with this paper exactly, but more related to the lack of obvious results from policies that have been enacted.

This has been going on for sometime. 

 

There has been an undercurrent of doubts about austerity for some time and they've been gaining momentum.

 

As I see it:-

 

1) We don't really have austerity anyway; as often happens in recessions government spending has gone up (benefits rise due to increased unemployment)  but the tax take has fallen (fewer people in work)

2) Despite the obvious cuts, people are asking why debt is still rising (the reason being see point 1)

3) There has been little or no growth and it's hard to see how Europe can recover without outside intervention from the USA or China (not likely to happen); some think Keynesian policies are worth a try

4) Keynes argued that governments should save in good times to create a rainy day fund (oops we forgot about that); any fiscal stimulus would involve borrowing money and creating even more debts

5) It's debatable whether it would work anyway. Keynesianism was largely abandoned after it proved unsuccessful in dealing with the oil price shocks and their aftermath. Trade unions had learned from previous times that Keynesian stimulus was a good time to ask for a pay rise for their members because inflation would surely follow. This ate up any benefits that the increase in government spending would have caused and led to inflation.

6) Point 5 probably no longer applies. We live in an era of weak trade unions and low inflation imported from overseas. However, with globalisation our economy is much more open than before. Would any increase in government spending simply go on Chinese imports anyway and prove ineffective in increasing in UK or European GDP.

7) Thus sitting tight and hoping that a boom in the USA or East Asia or South America will somehow rescue the European economy becomes the default position with opposition centering around Keynesianism.


Edited by Northern Sol, 09 May 2013 - 12:37 PM.


#80 Wolford6

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 02:53 PM

Roy Hattersley was on Radio Leeds today.

 

He said that at the start of his career his views were regarded as being on the the right wing of the Labour Party policies, now they are  regarded to be on the left of the Party policies.

 

He says his basic views have remained the same all along.

 

:)


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