History of and documents from the PAE Movement
Six winners of the Bank of
". . . economics has become increasingly an arcane branch of mathematics rather than dealing with real economic problems"
“[Economics as taught] in
"Existing economics is a theoretical [meaning mathematical] system which floats in the air and which bears little relation to what happens in the real world"
“We live in an uncertain and ever-changing world that is continually evolving in new and novel ways. Standard theories are of little help in this context. Attempting to understand economic, political and social change requires a fundamental recasting of the way we think”
“Page after page of professional economic journals are filled with mathematical formulas […] Year after year economic theorists continue to produce scores of mathematical models and to explore in great detail their formal properties; and the econometricians fit algebraic functions of all possible shapes to essentially the same sets of data”
“Today if you ask a mainstream economist a question about almost any aspect of economic life, the response will be: suppose we model that situation and see what happens…modern mainstream economics consists of little else but examples of this process”
Post-Autistic Economics is about changing this state of affairs.
"Economics is supposed to be social science, i.e. an intellectual discipline resting upon empirically-observed facts, in which mathematics and conceptual frameworks are tools for understanding. But in contemporary mainstream economics, the tools are often in the driver's seat, declaring evident facts impossible and reducing the subtleties of the real world to whatever clockwork economists best know how to build. Post-Autistic economics is the attempt to escape the tyranny of these tools and build new ones that will work properly."
“Modern economics is sick. Economics
has increasingly become an intellectual game played for its own sake and not
for its practical consequences for understanding the economic world.
Economists have converted the subject into a sort of social mathematics in
which analytical rigour is everything and practical relevance is nothing.”
Some articles on the
PAE and Pluralism”, (EAEPE, July 2005)
The Student Petition of Autisme-Economie (June 2000)
James K. Galbraith
Autistic Economics vs.
André Orléan )
Sheila C Dow
Julie A. Nelson
Economic History and the Rebirth of Respectable Characters
Jason Potts and John Nightingale
Social Being as a
Problem for an Ethical Economics
New Petition (May 2008)
Here are more things seriously wrong with traditional economics that Post-Autistic Economics addresses.
“Economics students . . . graduate from
Masters and PhD programs with an effectively vacuous understanding of
economics, no appreciation of the intellectual history of their discipline,
and an approach to mathematics that hobbles both their critical understanding
of economics and their ability to appreciate the latest advances in
mathematics and other sciences. A
minority of these ill-informed students themselves go on to be academic
economists, and they repeat the process.
Ignorance is perpetuated”
"Undergraduate economics is a joke
-- macro is okay, but micro is a joke because they teach this stuff that you
know is not true. They know the general equilibrium model is not true. The
model has no good stability properties, it doesn't predict anything
interesting, but they teach it ... "
“The human economy has passed from an “empty world” era in which human-made capital was the limiting factor in economic development to the current “full world” era in which remaining natural capital has become the limiting factor “
“Most courses deal with an ‘imaginary
world,’ and have no link whatsoever with concrete problems.”
“All of these textbooks fail to explain
how prices are determined in ‘markets’’ and thus how markets work. Where do prices come from? Who determines them? How do they fluctuate? These questions are never addressed, even
though it is through the price mechanism that the ‘invisible hand’ is
supposed to operate.”
“. . . mainstream
economists seek knowledge through numbers to stop the messy reality of
people, processes and politics dirtying their invisible hands.”
“Multinationals are everywhere except in economic theories and economics departments.”
“. . . the
economist must engage him or herself as a citizen with convictions regarding
the public good and ways of treating it, rather than as the holder of
universal truth that he or she substitutes for discussion in order to impose
it on us all.”
“There is an urgent need for a more realistic economics of the environment, with theories and analyses that can help to create environmentally sustainable economic activity.”
“Modern economics is not very successful as an explanatory endeavour. This much is accepted by most serious commentators on the discipline, including many of its most prominent exponents”
“Because mathematics has swamped the curricula in leading universities and graduate schools, student economists are neither encouraged nor equipped to analyze real world economies and institutions.”
Geoffrey M. Hodgson
“. . . the concepts of uneconomic growth, accumulating illth, and unsustainable scale have to be incorporated in economic theory if it is to be capable of expressing what is happening in the world. This is what ecological economists are trying to do.”
Herman E. Daly
“The application of mathematics to economics has proved largely unsuccessful because it is based on a misleading analogy between economics and physics. Economics would do much better to model itself on another very successful area, namely medicine, and, like much of medicine, to adopt a qualitative causal methodology.”
“Economic history courses have been disappearing from classrooms across the world. Once a compulsory part of economics education, they have been relegated to the remote corners of ‘options’ and even closed down.”
“In Smith is a forgotten lesson that the foundation of success in creating a constructive classical liberal society lies in the individuals’ adherence to a common social ethics. According to Smith, virtue serves as ‘the fine polish to the wheels of society’ while vice is ‘like the vile rust, which makes them jar and grate upon one another.’ Indeed, Smith sought to distance his thesis from that of Mandeville and the implication that individual greed could be the basis for social good. Smith’s deistic universe might not sit well with those of post-enlightenment sensibilities, but his understanding that virtue is a prerequisite for a desirable market society remains an important lesson. For Smith ethics is the hero-not self-interest or greed-for it is ethics that defend social intercourse from the Hobbesian chaos.”
Charles K. Wilber
“. . . conventional economics . . . remains fixated on the view that economics is the physics of society. In other words, most of the profession behaves as if there were a single universally valid view of the world that needs only to be applied.”