The Great Debate

from Edward Hadas:

Russia-Ukraine conflict shows money isn’t the root of all war

By Edward Hadas
September 3, 2014

RTR44SRA.jpg

Many people think politics is really a branch of economics. When the United States invaded Iraq in 1991, the common cry was that it was all about oil. On the same thinking, rich countries were indifferent to the brutal civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – which has cost 5.4 million lives, according to the International Rescue Committee – because the economic stakes were too low to matter. This economic reductionism goes on in developed countries too. Pundits and pollsters argue that elections are won and lost above all else on the economy.

from Edward Hadas:

The problem with the Piketty problem

By Edward Hadas
May 28, 2014

If a man is suspected of murder, arson and speeding, any prosecutor who focuses only on the last charge risks ridicule. That imagined situation has some bearing on recent criticism of Thomas Piketty, the best-selling French anti-inequality economist. The accusations are largely restricted to ways in which he has exceeded the limits of his data.

from Breakingviews:

What Lagarde should’ve told Smith College’s grads

May 14, 2014

By Christopher Swann and Rob Cox
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

from Breakingviews:

Rob Cox: Solving America’s homegrown Putin dilemma

May 6, 2014

By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Does it matter whether or not economics is a ‘science’?

By Allison Schrager
December 2, 2013

Recently, at the House of Sweden, there was a feisty exchange among the newest Nobel laureates. First, one of the economics winners, Robert Shiller, questioned the validity of the efficient markets hypothesis, the prize-wining idea of co-laureate Gene Fama. This prompted chemistry winner, Martin Karplus, to say “What understanding of the stock market do you really have?” He reckoned economics can’t explain the market and questioned if “the dismal science” is even a science.

How the Nobel economists changed investing forever

By Allison Schrager
October 15, 2013

The 2013 Nobel Prize for economics celebrates that financial markets work, but cautions how little we know. One theme unifies the work of all three winners: Eugene Fama, Robert Shiller and Lars Hansen — risk. (A disclosure: until August I worked at Dimensional Fund Advisors, where Fama is a director and consultant.) Risk is unpredictable, but can be very profitable. That sounds simple enough, but it has profound implications — not only for the lords of high finance, but households, too. Risk teaches humility, to overconfident investors and also policymakers. That humility was notably absent at the IMF/World Bank meetings last week. Policymakers should take special note of the prize this year; it reveals how little we really understand about financial markets.

Mass flourishing: How it was won, and then lost

By Edmund Phelps
August 16, 2013

This essay is adapted from Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change, published this month by Princeton University Press.

from Nicholas Wapshott:

Robert Fogel and the economics of good health

By Nicholas Wapshott
June 13, 2013

Robert Fogel, who died this week, won a Nobel for economics by mining historical data and in the process shook up the study of history forever. Just as with cholesterol, it seems there is good data mining and bad data mining. Fogel’s was undoubtedly the good kind.

Where is Obama’s promised minimum-wage hike?

By Ralph Nader
July 24, 2012

During the 2008 campaign, presidential candidate Barack Obama made a pledge to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 per hour by 2011. Promises like this one inspired a generation of young voters, excited long-neglected progressive voters and gave hope to millions of his supporters across the country.

The late conversion of a famous monetarist

By Nicholas Wapshott
June 27, 2012

The death of Anna Schwartz has been marked with reverential obituaries. Her contribution to economics was making sense of historical facts to offer a guide to what should be done today. Posterity will know her as the co-author, with Milton Friedman, of Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960, which revolutionized our understanding of the Great Depression. The pair concluded that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the slump was caused by the Federal Reserve not pumping enough money into the economy.