Tuesday, November 26, 2013

News from the Bookshelf

I'm reading The Economics Anti-Textbook by Rod Hill and Tony Myatt, and I must say that this is one of the best books on the basics of economics that I've ever read. And that means ever. EVER!!!! In contrast to Steve Keen's Debunking Economics (for in-depth discussion of that book see the blog Unlearning Economics), which attempts to destroy what is dear to the dyed-in-the-wool hard core neoclassical (and by extension neo-liberal) economist, the anti-textbook is much gentler. It does not actually debunk any of the theories presented. Rather, it highlights biases, analytical weaknesses and internal inconsistencies in those theories in an attempt to offer some sort of a second opinion. Also, competing theories are presented that contradict the mainstream, but that have some merits on their own, for example empirical evidence to support them (which the mainstream often doesn't). I would strongly suggest that anyone studying economics reads The Economics Anti-Textbook as a kind of inoculation against the propaganda and indoctrination of a so-called science that, according to McCloskey, should be more like an art of rhetoric.

In the following weeks I'm going to review some of the chapters of the anti-textbook, so stay tuned.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Keen on Collusion (3)

This is the third part of a (apparently getting more and more open ended) short series on Steve Keen's alleged debunking of the notion that under perfect competition you get higher quantities at lower prices compared to a monopoly situation. I say "alleged", because (a) his debunking is vigorously disputed, and (b) Keen is not to be the first to have discovered the flaw in the theory (see this comment on Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, for example).

In this episode of the saga I'd like to discuss this comment on the blog Unlearning Economics where the commenter tries to explain the flaws in the logic and math of the Keen/Standish[PDF] paper. In it they admit a few errors but otherwise defend their claims. As I wrote earlier, the logic and math is not what makes Keen's (re)discovery remarkable but the results of his computer simulation. After all, software doesn't have a bias unless it's actively programmed in, whereas "economist" and "bias" appear to be synonymous, at least if Moshe Adler is to be believed. Anyway, I take issue in particular with the following paragraph in the comment:
Then the [Keen/Standish] paper shows some simulations which are meant to support the claim that it is “optimal” for firms to choose collusion. Since the firms are not optimizing, just adjusting their quantities [in] some ad-hoc way in response to changes in their profits, it’s hard to tell what is driving the results. Then we see some attempt to refute Cournot result, but instead of going through standard Nash equilibrium computation (which doesn’t contain any mathematical mistakes – I’ve solved enough homeworks to be confident about this), Keen presents some convoluted model where firms respond to other firms choices in fixed proportion, and derives that optimal level of strategic interaction is zero. Only problem is that he again assumes that optimum = maximizing joint profits.
There's a problem in almost every sentence of this paragraph, so I try to address them one by one.
  1. [It] is“optimal” for firms to choose collusion.
    Firms do not "choose collusion". Apart from the fact that that expression has a negative connotation (why would a value-free science call an outcome using a negatively loaded term?), is it not at least thinkable that the outcome called "collusion" is in fact the natural outcome (instead of positive "choice") of perfect competition, and that the one that economists claim (P=MC) is rather a result of their innate bias i.e. wishful thinking?
  2. Since the firms are not optimizing, just adjusting their quantities in some ad-hoc way...
    Firms are optimizing (or rather maximizing). I wrote a simple simulator myself, and at the core of the simulation is the following equation evaluated by each firm:

    profit = quantity*(unitprice - unitcost(quantity))

    As the price is determined by the market, the only value that can be adjusted to maximize profit is the quantity. To increase profit, the quantity must be increased (price is > 0). But of course all other firms do the same thing (increase quantities to maximize profits), so the price may fall as a result, and hence profit. The firms do not know which quantity produces maximum profit (how would they?), and in any case that wouldn't help, because all other firms interfere with any prediction by their own production. So each firm continuously and individually boosts or throttles production depending on whether increasing/reducing production last time round helped to increase/decrease profit. This process is called profit maximization.
  3. ...it’s hard to tell what is driving the results.
    No, it's not hard to tell what is driving the results: profit maximization is.
  4. [Instead] of going through standard Nash equilibrium computation [...], Keen presents some convoluted model
    Of course, if you go through the Nash equilibrium formula you will guarantee the inherent result, because it is constructed that way. Keen's (software) model is not convoluted at all: even a high school kid with some basic programming skills can write a simulator that will yield the same result, because ... I don't know ... perhaps, this is simply the natural outcome of perfect competition, whereas the one that economists claim simply does not materialize, irrespective of how much they want it to be true. After all, a minimum wage does not lead to unemployment, either, despite every economist saying so. Perhaps economists are simply ... well ... wrong about stuff?
  5. ...and derives that optimal level of strategic interaction is zero.
    If by "strategic interaction" the commenter means "collusion", why is it bad that there is none of it?
  6. Only problem is that he again assumes...
    The software model assumes only (a) a falling demand curve, (b) market participants being price takers, and (c) absence of information sharing, a.k.a. "collusion" (i.e. no firm [taking] the quantity set by its competitors as a given [and evaluating] its residual demand [Wikipedia]).
  7. ...that optimum = maximizing joint profits.
    Firms do not maximize joint profits. How could they? There is no notion of "joint profit" in my simulator (and neither, I presume, in Keen's), and believe me, unless you actively program that notion into your simulator, it does not appear out of nowhere. Instead, they maximize individual profits (see point 2 above). The only information flowing out of the single firm is its production quantity, and the only thing flowing into it is the price that the market determined, based on quantity and falling demand curve. Where would the joint thing come from? Stray electrons in the microprocessor? Perhaps the outcome of the simulator is the natural outcome of perfect competition, and the theory is simply wrong.
 Software does not lie. People with agendas do.

Update: As to the maximizing of joint profits (point 6 above): Even if it were true that firms in Keen's software did indeed end up maximizing "joint profits", why would that discredit his findings? Doesn't the so-called "invisible hand" accomplish the same thing without bothering economists at all? After all, they do claim that the pursuit of individual utility maximization will ultimately lead (through the divine magic of the invisible hand) to the maximization of "joint" utility...

Again, it appears that one of the inherent qualities of the "science" of economics is the twisting and turning of any argument as economists see fit. They don't want to know. They want to win.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Why I might read a first year economics book after all.

It appears that soon after I wrote a post on why I won't read an economics text book, ever, I got a comment by The Man Himself. Wow! Blogito ergo sum!! I'm alive!!!

Unless, of course, it was just an answer-bot.

Anyway, would this book suggested by Unlearning Economics (here) count as a first year economics book? Guess not, but I'll read it anyway. Would Mankiw do? He's an asshole [PDF], but I might — might! — read his Principles if I'll be able to steal it somewhere (download, not take from a bookstore without paying. I don't hurt people, only idiots).

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why I won't read a first year textbook on economics.

While researching material for my previous blog post "series" on the notion of collusion in competitive markets I came across an article by Nick Rowe asking people who comment on his blog to, please, read an economics textbook. In his post he gives a pretty accurate description of myself, perhaps except the "smart" thing:
You are probably very smart. You are probably very well-educated -- either formally, or self-educated, and probably both. You spend a lot of time on the internet reading economics blogs and commenting on those blogs. You maybe even have a blog of your own, where you write about economics topics. You are probably politically engaged. You are probably a lefty, but may be a righty, or someone who is not easily categorised on that political spectrum. You probably think of yourself as a critic of economics, or a critic of what you see as orthodox economics. You are probably sympathetic to what you see as heterodox economics.
But you have never once read a first year economics textbook.
Well, I have read The Cartoon Introduction to Economics (volumes one and two), but I guess they don't count. I have also read many books on economic topics by various people, among them many economists, mostly on specific aspects of the modern globalized economy:
  • George Monbiot: Captive State
  • Joseph E. Stiglitz: Globalization and its Discontents
  • James K. Galbraith: The Predator State
  • Naomi Klein: The Shock Doctrine
  • Ha-Joon Chang: 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism
  • Steve Keen: Debunking Economics
  • Moshe Adler: Economics for the Rest of Us
...and on the financial crisis in particular:
  • Matt Taibbi: Griftopia
  • John Lanchester: Whoops!
  • Yves Smith: ECONned
From these and other books that I cannot remember from the top of my head (and I'm too lazy to walk to the bookshelf to look up), but in particular from Steve Keen's Debunking Economics, I developed a sense that economics is not really a science but a theology (cult?) of the market. So while I am very sympathetic to Nick Rowe's wish, there is a reason why I won't read an economics textbook and actually would discourage anyone from doing so. The reason is simple:

Economics textbooks lie to you. Insidiously.

In his book Debunking Economics, Steve Keen describes many instances where economists' claims have been disproven by other economists, sometimes even those of the same school of thought, yet are still taught in textbooks as if they were still valid. Sometimes they ignore the refutation (no mention in the textbook), sometimes they muddy the waters (as in "the conditions for the claim to be valid are beyond the scope of this discussion"), but sometimes they simply lie (as in "is this claim valid? It certainly is!"). Sometimes they massage the assumptions in a way that makes "true" after all, what had been logically disproven (as in "if we don't find a direct road from A-town to B-ville, let's rename C-city to B-ville, because now there is"). Other claims cannot be justified when contrasted with the real economy ("minimum wage leads to unemployment"), or cannot be replicated when simulated in software ("in a perfect competition, price equals marginal cost"). Sometimes a valid theory has been (silently) replaced by another theory because one of the implications contradicted the dogma, even if — as Moshe Adler writes — "each economics professor is left to invent his own parable" because there is no evidence for their claims.

I am quite certain that I would be able to read a book on, say, Dyanetix — a term that I just made up and bears no relationship to any existing concept or method whatsoever — without becoming a follower of that concept, because the notions in this book would likely be so patently absurd that no sane people would accept them. I am quite immune to bullshit.

But if I read a book on, say, a historic event where the author would take some liberty with facts, assumptions and causes, I'd have no way of telling if and how I was being misled. My desire to learn would be insidiously exploited to implant false facts and ultimately false thoughts into my mind. Facts would blend with fiction to create a pseudo-history that starts shaping my experience of the world, perhaps even to my detriment.

This is exactly the case with economics textbooks. I have no way of telling whether a certain claim is reasonable (because it might contradict the evidence — irrespective of whether it appears logical) or whether a certain assumption is permitted (as it might predispose a certain outcome). Strangely enough, in mathematics or physics textbooks even the most innocuous claim is routinely subjected to a rigorous mathematical proof, whereas in economics textbooks, where they would be most needed to expose sometimes rather blatant distortions, they are (deliberately?) omitted even for grand claims and theories that affect whole national economies and the livelihoods of whole peoples.

Here's a proposition: What if a couple of economics professors of different economic factions — some orthodox, some heterodox — came together and wrote an economics textbook describing the economic mainstream that is taught in economics classes around the world, but in a manner that allows the reader to see which parts are disputed. For example, theories that have been logically disproven or that contradict the empirical evidence would be printed in red, hypotheses that have no supporting evidence or whose validity are disputed would be printed in blue, and so on. Of course, the logical flaws and the grounds of the dispute would have to be listed. Uncontested parts could remain in black ink. If there are alternative theories to the mainstream ones, they'd be contrasted side by side. This way the reader would get all the alleged benefits of being exposed to the mainstream economic thought without being misled or brainwashed with claims that are contradicted by logic, evidence or other economics. Now, that is a textbook I'd be more than happy to read!

Update: It appears that such a textbook does indeed exist! I just bought the The Economics Anti-Textbook by Rod Hill and Tony Myatt, and in it, they argue that the claim of economics to be a value-free science is a myth. The book is a guide to decoding the textbooks, it reveals the hidden value judgements, ignored evidence and unmentioned alternative theories. Exactly what I was looking for. It just moved to the top of the stack of books to be read.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Keen on Collusion (2)

In my previous post on monopoly vs perfect competition (Keen on Collusion) I discussed the findings of  Steve Keen's paper Emergent Effective Collusion in an Economy of Perfectly Rational Competitors [PDF] that computer simulations of the so-called Cournot-Nash solution of perfect competition fail to show the results that the theory predicts. Instead of price equaling marginal cost, output and price appear to converge to monopoly-levels even for hundreds of firms. I thought that this result was devastating. After all, the tale of monopoly vs perfect competition is one of the basic tenets of basic economic knowledge that appears in literally every single economics textbook on this planet. That a simple computer simulation disproves it must have hit the economics profession like a bomb shell. Or so I thought.

What I see instead is yawns, bored bloggers writing that this is old stuff, and anyway, so what? The blogger writing at Unlearning Economics says it best: "economic theory is disturbingly aware of its own flaws", which as a consequence turns what they teach into lies. If they know (as they claim they do) that the models they use to rationalize a certain preference (of competition over monopolies) don't actually produce the result they claim, and then even nonchalantly dismiss this fact, how can they not be liars if they continue to preach the very same gospel?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Keen on Collusion

I'm reading Steve Keen's Debunking Economics for the second time, and I'm stuck in the chapter where he debunks the notion that — compared to a monopoly — under perfect competition you get higher quantities at lower prices. I've checked various texts on the subject on the Internet, and this appears to be the gospel taught to countless students of economics. I'm a bit set back after several people (Paul Anglin, Minseong Louis Kim, Christopher Auld, among them) had found errors in the math and thus appear to have debunked Keen on this matter. While I can (just about) follow the math and their arguments in favour of the Holy Gospel, there remains a significant problem: Keen wrote a computer simulation of the "mechanics" of competition, and he found that even with thousands of firms output and price appear to converge to monopoly levels. Not that economists (of all people...) are incapable of committing rather stupid and embarrassing programming mistakes, but the rules of competition are simple enough that a simple program can be written in about an hour or so (I did).

What I found interesting is that I had to search for several hours until I found an explanation of competition that didn't appear to offer separate rules for a monopolist and for perfect competition. Of course, you can win any argument if you get to massage the rules such that one of them says "I'm right, whatever I say". I wanted a smooth function of N (the number of firms) that yields a monopoly situation if N=1, and perfect competition if N→∞. The function exists and is the one that Prof. Auld uses to debunk Keen. It's the Cournot-Nash solution of the equilibrium output under perfect competition. Except, it isn't: when simulated in software the so called equilibrium output is the same for any N > 0, with quantity and price being at monopoly-level.

The problem with this solution and also the Marshallian equilibrium (or whatever it's called) is the claim that firms have total knowledge about the quantities produced by all firms (and consequently the price they can expect when selling their warez):
Each firm takes the quantity set by its competitors as a given, evaluates its residual demand, and then behaves as a monopoly. [Wikipedia page on Cournot competition]
Keen states that this assumption is unrealistic (and his computer simulation doesn't rely on it), and, indeed, this is a strange requirement. Where would this information come from? The firms certainly don't tell one another — this would constitute collusion, wouldn't it, and the whole point of perfect competition is  the absence of collusion after all. Indeed so much so that a situation with monopoly-level prices under competition is routinely called "collusion" (see the title of Keen's paper: Emergent Effective Collusion in an Economy of Perfectly Rational Competitors [PDF]). But expecting them to share this private information about their production quota is even more absurd, when you consider that firms are profit maximizers, and by not-telling they can achieve higher i.e. monopoly-level profit margins as shown by Keen's computer simulation.

So it appears that to rationalize a certain desired result, namely that perfect competition is preferable to a monopoly, economic theory assumes a condition which is not only absurd on the surface (firms telling each other about their production plans) but also inconsistent with their being profit-maximizers (because sharing this information actually reduces profits in the simulation). That such simulations can lead to the "collusive" rather than the Cournot-Nash equilibrium happens to be a known fact (see this comment on the Worthwhile Canadian Initiative post on Keen), but I doubt that students of economics will ever get to hear of it. Incidentally, calling the undesired outcome with the loaded term "collusive", when its cause is actually the opposite: the removal the collusive assumption in the simulation, is rather brazen. But then, "Hitler-pricing" would presumably be over the top even for economists.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Geheimplan zum Verkauf der Demokratie an Wirtschaftsinteressen

Der Titel scheint vielleicht etwas reisserisch, aber tatsächlich täuscht er nur in einem Punkt: die Demokratie wird nicht verkauft sondern verschenkt. Der Geheimplan ist das Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), das gerade unter absoluter Geheimhaltung zwischen den USA und 11 Pazifik-Anliegerstaaten verhandelt wird, und von dem die Öffentlichkeit erst erfahren hat, nachdem einzelne Kapitel der Vereinbarung durch Lecks ans Licht gekommen sind. Sogar der US-Senator Ron Wyden, Vorsitzender der Handelskommission im US-Senat, jenes Gremium also, das Rechtssprechung über diese Art Verträge hat, hat keinen Zugang zum Text der Vereinbarung. Ron Wyden sitzt in der Sicherheitskommission des US-Senats und darf Baupläne von Nuklearsprengkörpern einsehen, aber nicht den Text der TPP-Vereinbarung!

Hier ein kurzes Video, in welchem Lori Wallach, Direktorin des Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch die Vereinbarung auf Democracy Now! erklärt:

Weitere Informationen und Kapitel der Vereinbarung: Newly Leaked TPP Investment Chapter Contains Special Rights for Corporations.

Vielleicht erinnern sich einzelne Leser an das 1998 nach heftigen Protesten der Öffentlichkeit abgebrochene Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). Es scheint, dass unsere Corporate Overlords nicht aufgeben und immer neue solche Vereinbarungen lancieren werden, bis sie eine Welt erschaffen haben, in der die 1% uns alle bis auf die bleichen Knochen ausbeuten können. Man soll sich auch nicht von der Tatsache einlullen lassen, dass es sich um eine "Trans-Pazifische" Vereinbarung handelt. Solche Verträge gelten erfahrungsgemäss als Blaupausen für Handelsabkommen, unter die am Ende alle Länder, also auch die Schweiz, fallen werden.

Als Ron Kirk, der US-Handelsrepräsentant in den TTP-Verhalndlungen, gefragt worden war, weshalb dieses Abkommen unter solch totaler, in dieser Form einmaliger Geheimhaltung verhandelt würde, hat er effektiv zugegeben, dass die Völker den Abbruch der Verhandlungen erzwingen würden, wenn sie erführen, worum es im Abkommen geht ("in the past, when the text was revealed, we couldn't finish it", 7:02 im Video).

PS: An der Position 13:25 in obigem Video offeriert ein "Vertreter" der "Texas Corporate Power Partnership" den US-Unterhändlern bei den TPP-Verhandlungen ein "Corporate Power Tool" Award, und meint unter Beifall und "Yeah!"-Rufen des Publikums "the TPP agreement is shaping up to be a great way to maximize our profits, regardless of what the public of this nation or any other nation thinks is right." Ich sehe ein, dass diese Leute keinen Sinn für Sarkasmus haben, aber dass sie ehrlich glauben, ein Anrecht auf solche Geschäftsbedingungen zum Schaden der 99% zu haben, ist schon ziemlich dreist.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ferienlektüre (2)

Da ich anfangs Juni für zwei Wochen ins südliche Ostasien auf eine Kreuzfahrt gehe, habe ich ein paar Bücher besorgt, um den einen oder andern Moment der Ruhe und Behaglichkeit mit Geschichten und Berichten über ökonomische Kriminalität zu zerstören. Zu den jeweiligen Buchtiteln habe ich ein Video (wo vorhanden) und andere Informationen beigestellt.

Ich wünsche allen schon mal eine schöne erste Junihälfte!

Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay
John Lanchester

Whoops @ The Guardian

ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism
Yves Smith

ECONned @ Wikipedia
ECONned als Free Download [PDF]

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Final Proof: Economics is not Science

Consider, if you will, the following analytic proposition:
  1. If someone wanted to make a statement about the physical world,
  2. To that end formulated a precise mathematical and/or logical model,
  3. On the basis of that model made a prediction for a specific situation,
  4. And then the precise situation arises, but the predicted result fails to materialize.
If such a situation ever came true it is safe to claim that everybody — everybody — would concede, that the model in question must be wrong. The only discipline where this is not the case is economics. Watch the following exchange between David Stockman, economist and author of The Great Deformation, and Saru Jayaraman, activist and author of Behind the Kitchen Door, on Real-Time with Bill Maher. The guests are seen debating the fact that in the USA tipped servers in restaurants get only a minimum wage of $2.13 an hour (and are actually paid nothing because the amount covers just the necessary taxes). Watch:

Here's the summary of what we're witnessing:
  • Stockman claims (5:57) that a higher minimum wage would "destroy jobs".
  • Jayaraman disproves (6:52) this claim with evidence that in California where in places servers are paid the higher national minimum wage the number of restaurants is growing faster than ever.
  • Stockman replies to his claim being disproved that (7:30) "People will never agree about the facts but it's logical: If you raise the cost of running a business on the margin you are going to eliminate the employment on that business ... [crosstalk]".
Well, first, no, it's only economists that will never agree — or care — about the facts. People with brains actually do, and second, no, it's not logical, it's wrong. Jayaraman has just proved with facts that what Stockman claims did not happen.

I know of no other discipline that is equally impervious to factual evidence as economics. Note especially that when Stockman claims that the reasoning behind his claim is "logical" then the underlying assumptions or the theory that makes this reasoning inescapable must be wrong. Period. There is no escape from that if economics claims to be a science. And if — what is often heard — economics is not an "exact science" then it simply cannot make any such exact or inescapable claims. I thought we left behind already centuries ago such claims that whatever contradicts the Bible cannot possibly be true. In fact, the only quasi-science where facts are irrelevant if the theory says otherwise (to paraphrase Stockman's assertion above) is economics. The inescapable conclusion therefore must be that economics cannot be science.

I'd love to see a student of economics take this video to class and then confront the professor why economics is the only discipline in the world (apart from religion) where factually disproved claims are still maintained, taught and defended tooth and nail as "logical".

Further reading:
Brian Davey, Economics is not a social science

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Der Irische Raub

Ich schaue gerade das Arte Doku Die Wahrheit - Eurokrise - Wem schulden die maroden Banken das Geld? auf YouTube und muss jetzt eine Pause machen. Ich kann in einer bestimmten Zeit nur eine begrenzte Menge an ökonomischer Psychopathie ertragen. Schwache Nerven sollten die Finger komplett davon lassen, es ist unerträglich. Nur soviel: mein kleines Märchen vom Spanischen Raub wird von der Realität in einem Ausmass übertroffen, das jede Vostellungskraft sprengt.

Ökonomie - Die Theologie des Marktes

Ich habe schon lange die These vertreten, dass Ökonomie keine Wissenschaft sei, weil sie an "Wissen" nicht interessiert ist. Mein letzter Post über den Mindestlohn ist ein case in point, wie der Angelsachse sagt. Obwohl Mindestlöhne seit Jahren exisitieren, und deren Wirkung auf Arbeitslosigkeit daher beobachtet werden kann, lehrt die Ökonomie immer noch die Orthodoxie. Ich nenne dieses Phänomen Faktenresistenz.

Trotzdem hat es aber eine gewisse Zeit gedauert (und einige ökonomische Bücher benötigt), bis ich eingesehen hatte, dass Ökonomie in Tat und Wahrheit eine Theologie ist. Der Glaube an den Freien Markt ist ein religiöser Glaube mit all ihren Dogmen, Evangelien, Sekten, Priestern, Ketzern usw. Im Gegensatz zu einer Wissenschaft, in der es schon namentlich darum geht, "Wissen" zu "schaffen", hat die Ökonomie den Zweck, sich selber und — da eine Religion nie damit zufrieden ist, den wahren Glauben zu haben, sondern ihn immer auch andern aufzwingen muss — alle andern davon zu überzeugen, dass ihr Gott (Markt) den längeren Penis hat als alle andern Götter.

Im blog Unlearning Economics (empfohlen für jeden Kritischen Ökonomen!) zitiert der Autor aus der Einführung zum Kapitel 11 Markets, Efficiency and the Public Interest des Buches Economics von John Sloman
First we show how a perfect market economy could under certain conditions lead to ‘social efficiency.’ … [we then] show how markets in practice fail to meet social goals. These failures provide the major arguments in favour of government intervention in a market economy.
Diese Zeilen sind äusserst erhellend und zielen auf den Kern meiner ökonomischen Kritik. Der Autor ist in diesem speziellen Fall besonders hilfreich, da er im wesentlichen mein Argument explizit macht:
Zuerst wird gezeigt, dass ein Perfekter Markt (Gott) zu (absoluter) sozialer Effizienz führt,
dann wird gezeigt, dass ein realer Markt (Welt) diese sozialen Ziele verfehlt.
Man beachte, dass das ökonomische Modell perfekt und die Realität mangelhaft ist und deshalb die geforderten Ziele verfehlt.

Dies ist keine Wissenschaft, sondern Theologie, denn in einer Wissenschaft, etwa der Meteorologie, ist es immer das idealisierte Modell, das mangelhaft ist, da es die Realität gerade wegen seiner Idealisierungen nicht vollkommen abzubilden vermag und daher von dieser abweicht. Diese Umkehrung der Bedeutung von Idealisierung und Realität ist der Kern einer Theologie: Gott ist unfehlbar. Es ist immer die Realität, die mangelhaft ist.

Wäre die Ökonomie eine Wissenschaft, dann würde wie in der Meteorologie ein allfällig idealisiertes Modell dazu verwendet werden, den realen Markt zu verstehen, um danach das Modell (und eben nicht die Realität!) zu verfeinern, damit letzteres nach und nach genauere Voraussagen zu produzieren vermag. Tatsächlich aber besteht das ökonomische Projekt darin, die mangelhafte Realität dem Perfekten Modell anzugleichen, und damit quasi einen Ökonomischen Gottesstaat (einen Total Freien Markt) zu errichten.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ein kleiner mathematischer Beweis

Seit der State of the Union Address von Präsident Obama, in welcher er die Erhöhung des Mindestlohnes ankündigte, sind mir zwei verschiedene Videos vor die Augen gekommen, in denen ein Sprecher die Behauptung aufgestellt hat, dass ein Mindestlohn zu mehr Arbeitslosigkeit führe:

Realtime with Bill Maher31:43Bill Maher: So either you have a welfare state where you gonna have to give the people food stamps or you gonna force companies like McDonalds and Walmart to pay people a wage they can live on.
Jamie Weinstein: Which means the unemployment rate will go up. (...) I mean that's basic economics.
The Rachel Maddow Show00:08John Boehner: When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens: you get less of it.

Dieselbe Behauptung steht auch im Klassiker Economics in One Lesson[PDF] von Henry Hazlitt im Kapitel 18 Minimum Wage Laws, wo er schreibt:
"There is no escape from the conclusion that the minimum wage will increase unemployment". [Hazlitt p117]
Wenn man die Sprecher beim Wort nehmen darf — und die wirkungsvollste Kritik ist immer diejenige, die sich allein auf die Aussagen der Sprecher stützt — dann darf man folgende Gesetzmässigkeit daraus ableiten:

Mindestlöhne führen zu Arbeitslosigkeit

Ich möchte diese Aussage in folgende mathematische Form, der sogenannten Aussagenlogik kleiden (der Pfeil → bedeutet "impliziert"):

M → A

Diese Aussage ist nicht einfach eine abstrakte Theorie. Tatsache ist, dass verschiedene Volkswirtschaften solche Mindestlöhne eingeführt und mehrfach erhöht hatten. Wir müssen also nicht nur glauben, sondern können beobachten, was Mindestlöhne bewirken. Ausserdem haben in den USA einige der Teilstaaten einen eigenen, höheren Mindestlohn eingeführt, während der Nachbarstaat nur den nationalen Mindestlohn hat. Man hat also nicht nur eine Reihe von realen Experimenten, sondern sogar kontrollierte Experimente mit verschiedenen Mindestlöhnen in der gleichen Volkswirtschaft zur gleichen Zeit. Das Ergebnis einer Studie [PDF] des Centers for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) findet für diese wiederholten Experimente eines Mindestlohnes "(...) No Discernible Effect on Employment" (Titel der Studie).

Wir beobachten also einen Mindestlohn, aber keine Arbeitslosigkeit (M und nicht A)

M ∧ ¬A

Lässt sich nun die Theorie mit der Beobachtung vereinbaren? Können beide Aussagen gelten? Prüfen wir nach:

(M → A) ∧ (M ∧ ¬A)Behauptung und Beobachtung
(M → A) ∧ ¬¬(M ∧ ¬A)doppelte Negation: P ≡ ¬¬P, für alle P
(M → A) ∧ ¬(¬M ∨ ¬¬A)De Morgan im zweiten Term
(M → A) ∧ ¬(¬M ∨ A)doppelte Negation im hinteren A
(M → A) ∧ ¬(M → A)Definition der Implikation: P →Q ≡ ¬P ∨ Q, für alle P, Q

Dies ist ein Widerspruch! Eine Aussage und ihr Gegenteil können nicht gleichzeitig wahr sein. Da wir den zweiten Teil tatsächlich beobachten, muss der erste Teil, also die Behauptung zwingend falsch sein. Damit aber nicht genug, denn die Behauptung ergibt sich ja aus der ökonomischen Theorie!

T → (M → A) Theorie impliziert Behauptung
T → FALSEBehauptung ist falsch (Widerspruch mit der Beobachtung)
¬T ∨ FALSEDefinition der Implikation
¬TDisjunktion kann nur wahr sein, wenn "nicht-T" wahr ist
T ≡ FALSET muss unwahr sein

Wir haben also mit Hilfe der Aussagenlogik bewiesen, dass die ökonomische Theorie falsch sein muss. Wenn eine Theorie korrekt ist, dann impliziert sie keine falschen Aussagen. Die ökonomische Theorie sagt aber einen Sachverhalt zwingend voraus, nämlich dass ein Mindestlohn zu Arbeitslosigkeit führt. Da wir diesen Sachverhalt aber nicht beobachten, ist die ökonomische Theorie beweisbar falsch.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Die Wahrheit über Daniel Vasella

Primeur - - Zitieren nur mit Quellenangabe - - Primeur

Wie ist es möglich, dass (bald-)ex-Novartis CEO Daniel Vasella — einst ein überzeugter Marxist-Leninist — zum Prototypen eines Abzockers mutiert ist? Kann man so einfach seine Überzeugungen und damit die Seiten wechseln? The Underhanded Economist kennt die Antwort und kann als erstes Medienerzeugnis der Schweiz das Rätsel auflösen:

Daniel Vasella hat das System abgezockt, um nach seinem Austritt linke und alternative Projekte finanzieren zu können!

Während seiner Studienzeit hat Vasella erkannt, dass das kapitalistische System so vollkommen korrupt ist, dass es nicht verändert werden kann. Man kann das System nur unterwandern, indem man seine Korruption gegen es selber ausnutzt. Doch dazu ist Geld notwendig! Viel Geld! Denn dem Kapital stehen praktisch unbegrenzte Mittel zur Verfügung, um die Politik zu kaufen, den Mittelstand auszubeuten und sich so immer weiter auf Kosten der Allgemeinheit zu bereichern. So ist Vasella schliesslich auf den Gedanken gekommen, das System zu unterwandern, den Marsch durch die Institutionen anzutreten, sich zum CEO einer börsenkotierten Unternehmung zu machen und es danach nach allen Regeln des verhassten Systems abzuzocken. Er hat dafür gesorgt, dass der Verwaltungsrat sein Gehalt auf 20mio Franken festlegt, eine Höhe, die selbst in den USA als unerhört gilt. Nur so konnte er das System möglichst schnell abzocken, denn er musste immer damit rechnen, dass sein Plan durchschaut würde. Es ging aber alles gut, und inzwischen stehen ihm genügend Mittel zur Verfügung, um es mit Gegnern wie den Blochers, der Economiesuisse und deren Lakaien in den bürgerlichen Parteien aufzunehmen.

Daniel Vasella war als Student ein Marxist, und ist auch als CEO immer einer geblieben. Er hat nur darauf gewartet, den verhassten Kapitalismus auf Augenhöhe konfrontieren zu können.

Ich wette, dass Daniel Vasella schon kurz nach seiner letzten Generalversammlung den Schleier lüften und seine Rolle als Schweizerischer Soros und Financier der Linken übernehmen wird. Tick tick tick...