Acton Institute Powerblog Archives

Post Tagged 'Economic theories'

The Myth of Homo Economicus

“As a social psychologist, I have long been amused by economists and their curiously delusional notion of the ‘rational man.’” writes Carol Tavris. “Rational? Where do these folks live?” In a review of behavioral economist Richard Thaler’s new book, Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics, Tavris notes how economists are slowly beginning to see — or, one could argue, finally returning to the notion — that the discipline ought treat man as more than a mere robot or calculator. Continue Reading...

What Christians Should Know About Comparative Advantage

Note: This is the latest entry in the Acton blog series, “What Christians Should Know About Economics.” For other entries in the series see this post. The Term: Comparative advantage What it Means: The ability of an individual or group of individual (e.g., a business firm) to produce goods or services at a lower opportunity cost than other individuals or groups. Continue Reading...

Is Econ 101 Conservative Propaganda?

Is the teaching of basic microeconomics — opportunity cost, supply and demand curves, incentives, etc. — a form of conservative propaganda? Most people, including almost all economists whether liberal or conservatives, would obviously say “no.” Yet many educators, as well as the general public, believe it’s true. Continue Reading...

Trickle-Down Welfare Economics?

Over at NRO, Thomas Sowell takes on what he calls the “lie” of “trickle-down economics.” Thus, writes Sowell, “the ‘trickle-down’ lie is 100 percent lie.” Sowell cites Bill de Blasio and Barack Obama as figures perpetuating the “lie,” along with writers in “the New York Times, in the Washington Post, and by professors at prestigious American universities — and even as far away as India.” But we should also note that “trickle-down theories” get a mention in Evangelii Gaudium, too: “some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.” In the midst of his discussion, Sowell asks the following penetrating questions: Why would anyone advocate that we “give” something to A in hopes that it would trickle down to B? Continue Reading...

What Economics Can’t Explain

Tyler Cowen has an interesting column in last Sunday’s New York Times, arguing that despite run-of-the-mill objections to “cold” and “heartless” economic analysis, economics is, as a science, “egalitarian at its core”: Economic analysis is itself value-free, but in practice it encourages a cosmopolitan interest in natural equality. Continue Reading...

Spartan Austerity and the Fiscal Cliff

Is spartan austerity driving us over the fiscal cliff?The latest step in the budget dance between House Republicans and the White House has to do with where tax increases (or revenue increases in general, depending on what is called what) fit with a deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.” As Napp Nazworth reports, President Obama has apparently delivered an ultimatum: “there would be no agreement to avert the ‘fiscal cliff’ unless tax rates are increased on those making more than $250,000 per year.” On one level it seems reasonable to talk about addressing a deficit from both directions: cutting spending and raising revenue. Continue Reading...

Economists and Clergy

Tyler Cowen fielded an interesting topic on his blog last week, focusing on economists who are (or were) clergy. There’s an interesting list, including notables like the Salamancans, Paul Heyne, and Heinrich Pesch. Continue Reading...

Samuel Gregg: The Madness of Lord Keynes

On the American Spectator, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg examines the baleful influence exerted on economic thought and public policy for decades by John Maynard Keynes. Gregg observes that “despite his iconoclastic reputation, Keynes was a quintessentially establishment man.” This was in contrast to free-market critics of Keynes such as Friedrich Hayek and Wilhelm Röpke who generally speaking “exerted influence primarily from the ‘outside’: not least through their writings capturing the imagination of decidedly non-establishment politicians such as Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and West Germany’s Ludwig Erhard.” Perhaps not so surprisingly, many of Keynes’ most prominent devotees are also “insider” types: The story of Keynes’s rise as the scholar shaping economic policy from “within” is more, however, than just the tale of one man’s meteoric career. Continue Reading...

Chicago Open Mic Night

Last week the Acton Institute hosted its third annual Chicago Open Mic Night downtown at the University Club. Three panelists answered questions about — you guessed it — economics and a virtuous society from the audience. Continue Reading...

Samuel Gregg on the GOP Roundtable

Acton director of research Samuel Gregg offers his thoughts on last night’s GOP Roundtable in this NRO Symposium. Gregg thinks the debate offered an important alternative to the government-driven economy talk that fills the news every other night of the week. Continue Reading...