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At the link below, you can find twelve economics textbooks published under a Creative Commons license allowing you to share and modify them edited to embed link here NR

I don't know which of them qualify as reasonably good and standard first-year textbooks. The link is edited to embed link here NR

Brett: good find! Thanks!

I have very briefly skimmed part of the Rittenberg and Tregarthen text, and it looks OK. I can't say for sure without more time reading it.

Never. Going. To. Happen.

I'd add: and no, reading a book on about conversational economics - or listening to this - is not a substitute. You'd learn a lot, but it's not the same.

I don't know about this idea: I'm not sure I want to give up the rhetorical advantage in history/philosophy of economics debates that I often have as a result of reading contemporary economics textbooks. (And historical textbooks, including almost every of Samuelson's to some degree.)

Getting familiar with a lot of contemporary economics textbooks is very useful for studying the history of economics (especially for those of us who didn't study economics as undergraduates) because it makes reading that 1930s textbook on economics that includes interesting insights into mainstream South African opinion on floating currencies that much easier. Similarly, every serious economics student/professor I know who has dipped into historical textbooks has enjoyed the experience.

I particularly find that reading Sayers' textbook "Modern British Banking" from the early 1960s is one of those experiences that can benefit everyone from economic historians to economists to historians of economics. This is partly because he gives one of the clearest explanations of the 20th/21rst century Scottish currency arrangements: he first explains how the Sterling Zone works, then explains the Scottish banks' powers to issue their own notes as if they were like Sterling Zone countries.

I have not even skimmed the McAfee and Lewis micro book, but I am pretty sure it will be OK, because I know Preston McAfee is good (I don't recognise Tracy Lewis' name, but that is probably just because I never remember names well).

It says it's an introduction to micro, but at the intermediate level. That probably means it would be a good start for someone better at math.

vimothy: I can only hope you are wrong. We can but try. If one person follows my plea, it has been worthwhile.

Stephen: agreed. Such things are good. Sometimes very good. But not close substitutes. Maybe even complements??

W Peden: interesting angle I hadn't though of. BTW, did you know that Samuelson's first edition was an incredibly short book? I counted (OK, I estimated) the number of words in it once. IIRC, it was less than half the word count in modern texts. (Mankiw shortened them a lot, but still not to Samuelsonian levels.)

1. I completely agree
2. I would love to know if there was a specific comment that inspired this post.

Nick Rowe,

I knew very little mathematical economics when I read it, so it felt long enough to me!

Mankiw is probably my favourite, not so much because of content but because I like his deflationary, everyday style. The way to stylistically please an analytic philosophy student like me is to discuss extremely profound issues in a casual way, like Mankiw does. (It doesn't work for every issue, of course.)

Daniel: thanks. Hundreds of comments, on dozens of blogs. But this particular comment was just the final straw.

W Peden: I meant Samuelson's first year textbook, not his Foundation (not so much math in the former).

I really like Mankiw too, for the same reason as you. (And my undergrad was analytic philosophy too!!) I was one of the co-authors on the Canadian edition of Mankiw. Left it a couple of editions ago.

Nick Rowe,

Good grief. Actually, I think that "Credit = debt" is even worse than "loans create deposits".

("Lending creates deposits" would be more accurate, of course.)

It's a testament to how badly you guys have done at taking on the"heterodox" school that this reminds me of standing outside a scientology shop and being asked if I'd like something to read..

W Peden: yep. And after posting this, I go back there to see that Unlearning disagreed with my response. Oh well.

"does anyone know a free online source"

Principles of Microeconomics, v. 2.0
by Libby Rittenberg and Timothy Tregarthen
edited to embed link here NR

Price Theory: An Intermediate Text
by David D. Friedman
edited to embed link here NR

Read a textbook in one day? You must have a model of reading with instantaneous adjustment.

RD: I spend a lot of my working life explaining first year economics to people. I don't want to spend all of my life explaining first year economics to people. My guess is that other economics bloggers feel the same way.

Oh, and BTW, nothing I have said above implies that all "heterodox" economists need to read a first year text. Some of them are very good economists, who just happen to think differently. That's OK. Those aren't the people I am talking about, obviously.

"Heterodox" people keep asking me to read their stuff. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I have done so even without them asking. Now I'm just returning the favour. Mustn't I?

Don't get me wrong Nick, I've enormous respect for you as a thinker. Love your blogging, but it didn't appear like you read keen before criticising him, for example.

AC: "Read a textbook in one day? You must have a model of reading with instantaneous adjustment."

Hmmm. Dunno. I think I remember reading the whole of Lipsey in one very long night as an undergraduate. Maybe I just looked at the pictures, which is where all the action is, and skipped some of the wordy passages, which don't really say much. Or maybe books were shorter then. Or maybe nights were a lot longer up North in a Scottish Winter.

What do others think?

Nick: "(P.S. Non-economists may be surprised that I haven't said which textbook I would recommend. That's because it doesn't really matter much. They are all fairly similar in coverage and treatment. And they are almost all good, in my opinion.)"

Like the ones that teach the money multiplier? :o

BTW, Lorie Tarshis's The Elements of Economics (1947) can be downloaded free at
https://archive.org/details/elementsofeconom030865mbp

Keynes before Samuelson et al mangled him.

RD: IIRC (and I really don't trust my own memory, so you shouldn't either) I have read a few things by Steve Keen, and I think I have watched at least part of two of his videos? (or have I muddled him with another economist?) In one particular case I stopped reading when he said something that seemed so obviously wrong, and I should have kept on reading for a couple more pages where he explained what he meant. My fault for jumping to a conclusion; his fault for not writing more clearly.

But thanks for saying what you just said. I appreciate it.

Some times I vaguely think about writing a post on equation 21(?) in Steve Keen's Berlin(?) paper, where I think he is actually onto something, and just explaining it very badly (other bloggers pointed to loads of mistakes in that equation). But then I think...oh well. Is it really worth the hassle I know I would face?

Tom: yep! But reading Lorie Tarshis 1947 isn't going to give people a sense of what (most) economists teach and think now.

Well Nick, once you realize that loans create deposits you are on your way to realizing some other things that might get you labeled 'heterodox'. That the idea that banks lend out of reserves is wrong. That the money multiplier based on the reserve rate is wrong. That the idea that there is a supply of loanable funds that determines interest rates is wrong.

I had two first year econ textbooks. I am sure they were pretty standard (at least they were twenty-five years ago). Neither came to the conclusions above. Maybe newer texts are different. I will check one out. But many economists still seem to operate based on the idea that banks only act as intermediators between those who save and those who want to borrow.

Economics is so ridiculous that its defenders immediately assume that those who highlight it are straw manning, but the fact is that they have simply not thought it through. Chances are many heterodox economists are not only more widely read than you assume, but have also given economics far more critical thought.

The following are examples of things that will immediately be assumed to be straw men, but aren't:

- To satisfy the conclusion that demand curves slope downwards, Mas-Colell assumes that a benevolent dictator redistributes resources to maximise social welfare prior to trade.

- The neoclassical theory of decreasing marginal returns assume that when a extra labourer is added, either the existing capital reassembles terminator 2 style into slightly less productive capital, the extra guy does whatever is needed without capital (usually completely ridiculous such as digging hole with his hands), else he fetches lemonade and cheers the rest on.

- Combinations of any sort - workers, big firms - reduce efficiency/social welfare (economists sometimes use one or the other, but it basically means 'more q less p).' Again you never see it stated like that, but it's true. At the core monopolies are presumed to have no obvious advantages (though elsewhere economies of scale are taught).

- Bubbles are impossible (strong version of EMH).

- On aggregate, people/markets can predict the future (RET).

The last two are not necessarily a part of the core and are viewed with skepticism, but they are still notable theories that were taken seriously.

- Finally, not so ridiculous, but contrary to your repeated assertions, the MONEY MULTIPLIER model of banking. I already showed you this in my comment on Wren-Lewis' piece.

The fact is that neoclassicals do not even know the core of their discipline. Steve Keen would find it far easier to reconstruct the neoclassical theory of demand curves from utility maximising individuals than Paul Krugman.

I came from philosophy, to the Austrians, then I read Krugman's three books (Economics, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, and Mankiw's undergrad book. I can't even remember what book we used in college. Then started with Keynes and Samuelson.

Now, i'd make the reverse complaint: can we please get more economists to read some basic philosophy about what it is possible for numbers to represent, and not? :) And some Moral theory so that they understand politics and norms govern the limits of macro policy? :)

I just realised there are probably a large amount of possibilities for the marginal productivity example, such as two workers using the capital at the same time, or taking it in turns and the rest makes them more productive.

In any case it requires a large amount of contortion and always involves 'squeezing' more productivity, at a falling rate, out of a fixed amount of capital. This just flat out ignores that capital and labour are employed simultaneously.

Nick, until I see a proper engagement with keen, cf brad delongs recent pathetic unthinking critics, by you guys, keen has my vote. So I'd love you to do that.


But note I'm just one of those non economists - so what do I know.

jbrown: "That the idea that banks lend out of reserves is wrong. That the money multiplier based on the reserve rate is wrong. That the idea that there is a supply of loanable funds that determines interest rates is wrong."

The funny thing is, I think that all those ideas are both right and wrong. It depends. It depends on what the shock is. It depends on whether we are talking short run or long run. It depends on what monetary policy the central bank is following. Etc.

If there is one idea that I would really like people to understand better, it's the idea of simultaneity. The idea that causation does not always flow in one direction. And that what causes what depends on what we are holding constant for the purposes of analysis. And that depends on the shock, and on short run vs long run. Etc.

jbrown981,

New ones do not. Here is one of mine:

"In any discussion of the creation of bank deposits it is customary to begin by recognizing that not all of the funds deposited with a bank will be withdrawn at any one time. Indeed, under normal circumstances inflows and outflows of funds will be such that on any one day banks will require only a fraction of the total funds deposited with them to meet withdrawals by customers. This implies that the remainder can be lent to borrowers. But this is not the end of the story because funds lent by one bank will flow back into the banking system, again a fraction will be retained and the remainder will be available for lending to other borrowers. This process is known as the money supply multiplier."

Now I will slow down with the comments.

This is an excellent idea, probably one that applies to most fields. (How many people who pontificate about the LHC have never read an intro. physics text?) Probably there is more need with economics since everyone wants to talk about it. My only quibble: Just one or two days?! That is crazy talk.

I do like your line, "...they are almost all good..." This may be the best example of the salutary effects of competition. One can say similarly, "Just go and see a Broadway play. It doesn't really matter which because they are almost all good."

Here comes the deluge! Please God, give me the strength to try to do what I can do, to not try to do what I cannot do, and the good sense to know the difference. "Ours the task eternal" (Carleton's motto).

Lol.

Curt: "I came from philosophy,..."

So did I. BA Hons Philosophy 1977. And yes I did get good grades. And this was a Scottish degree, so we specialised in our major discipline. But I am really unsure what you mean here:

"can we please get more economists to read some basic philosophy about what it is possible for numbers to represent, and not? :).."

And even though there was a lot of moral philosophy in my program, some of the most interesting stuff I read I didn't see till I was doing economics.

"And some Moral theory so that they understand politics and norms govern the limits of macro policy? :)"

(Maybe the moral philosophy in vogue then just wasn't as interesting, since a lot of it was meta-ethics, IIRC)

Hm, maybe, just maybe, to improve all things economics it would be good to extend the advice of Friedman and stop publishing *any* economic textbooks at all? People do not read 1st year physics textbooks to live this world. And neither 1st year chemistry textbooks. And nor biology and medicine. Why do you think economic textbooks are such a required reading? Esp. given that most if not all of them read like help yourself books.

Nick, you dont need exogenous money theory to explain excess reserves/money multiplier - indeed the whole concept was invented by endogenous money writers - see - though the direction of caustion is reversed.

https://andrewlainton.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/correctly-modelling-reserves-cost-of-funding-and-collateral-in-monetary-circuit-theory/

The fact that modern textbooks don't have an accurate chapter on banking is a very good reason not to read them as they are teaching students nonsenense. Indeed students would be better off reading Macclkoud from 150 years ago for a more accurate model.

Unlearning:

I am a little confused by your response to jbrown.

jbrown said: " Maybe newer texts are different. I will check one out. But many economists still seem to operate based on the idea that banks only act as intermediators between those who save and those who want to borrow."

And you said, I think in reply to what jbrown said here: "jbrown981,

New ones do not. Here is one of mine:

"In any discussion of the creation of bank deposits it is customary....""

Now, I may be misunderstanding you here, but let me try this:

Here is my view, and I think it's consistent with the standard textbook view:

The idea that banks just act as intermediaries between savers/lenders and spenders/borrowers is about long run equilibrium.

The idea that (bank) loans create deposits, and create further rounds of deposits and loans and deposits etc. (that may or may not peter out eventually depending on reserve ratios if any and the central bank's response) is about the short run disequilibrium response to a shock.

In other words, both of these apparently totally contradictory ideas can be true. Roughly, the first is true in the long run; the second is true in the short run.

To give you another, similar example, take the theory of the rate of interest (in a closed economy) that you will find in (say) Mankiw's text.

The short run theory is liquidity preference: the rate of interest is determined by the supply and demand for money (and if the central bank chooses a very short run policy of setting a rate of interest, that means the money supply curve is horizontal, and the rate of interest is whatever the central bank wants it to be).

But the long run theory is loanable funds (saving and investment curves).

Again, two apparently totally contradictory theories of the rate of interest. One short run and the other long run.

Nick: "Tom: yep! But reading Lorie Tarshis 1947 isn't going to give people a sense of what (most) economists teach and think now."

Yes, and some people think that this is the problem. Paul Krugman has often said this, although Post Keynesians think that Krugman is one of the manglers of Keynes in advancing the neoclassical consolidation.

I've just put up a link to your post at MNE and commented at length there. I'll be interested to get your reaction if you have time to comment.

Nick,

I have just lent some money to my daughter and I debited my checking account and credited her checking account. Last Friday, in anticipation of that loan to my daughter, I asked a bank manager to transfer funds from my savings account to my checking account, but she told me that I could borrow from my credit line and I followed her advice. I don't know from which account the bank debited the funds that it lent to me but I assume from one of the bank's accounts with the Central Bank or another commercial bank. Most likely --albeit a Sunday-- all around the world millions of people are lending some money to relatives and friends and funds are being debited and credited from checking accounts as it was the case with the loan to my daughter. These debits and credits are how payment systems work today, but once everything is settled, someone has lent and someone borrowed whatever goods and services the latter bought in exchange for a promise to pay back in the future. This would be Econ 101 except for the fact most Econ 101 courses rarely explain how payment systems work and how lending and borrowing takes place. Now tell me if my explanation is orthodox, heretodox, or just wrong.

Andrew: "Nick, you dont need exogenous money theory to explain excess reserves/money multiplier..."

When people say "exogenous money" I generally find they often mean totally different things by those words. Debates over whether money is or is not exogenous always seem to cause needless confusion.

But if you are saying that the money multiplier story, understood as a short run disequilibrium story of successive rounds of interaction between loans and deposits can be told as a response to many different types of initial shock that gets the ball rolling, I totally agree. The usual textbook story assumes the shock is coming from the central bank. But it really doesn't have to be. It could be an increased demand for loans. Or commercial banks increasing the supply of loans. Etc.

Is that what you are saying? If so, I agree.

Tom: Thanks! But I gotta see how snowed under I get here. (And I really should get out of my pajamas, have a shower, and do all the normal things that normal people do on a Sunday!)

Deirdre McCloskey, The Applied Theory of Price: link here pdf NR

Armen Alchian, Exchange and Production, is also very good but unfortunately out of print so would have to get it second hand or the library.

Both deal with microeconomics.

For people who already've completed intermediate micro would also highly recommend Samuel Bowles, Microeconomics: Behavior, Institutions, and Evolution. Unorthodox but not heterodox (as use rational choice and game theory as a framework). Combines standard micro with behavioral econ and evolutionary game theory to institutions (in the Northian sense).

Here is perhaps where the political relevance of economics comes in: mainstream economics (whatever that may be at a particular period in history) is inherently offensive to a lot of people. Economic issues are relevant to so many political debates and we feel that we have a right to an opinion on political debates, even if we haven't studied consensus opinions in those areas. Suddenly, however, we find a shady group of individuals- "economists" - claiming to have expert knowledge in this field. Even worse, many of them say things with which we disagree. Under such circumstances, we can do one of three things-

(1) Defer to those who claim to have expert knowledge.

(2) Study up the discipline, starting with introductory textbooks, and then critically engage with the arguments of economists.

(3) Find some argument (trading off quickness/clarity with reasonableness) that allows us to dismiss the opinions of these "economic experts" wholesale. If some heterodox group of economists say what you already believe, then so much the better.

Unsurprisingly, in democratic societies, opinionated people will rarely opt for (1). As for (2), it's a lot of work and seems like a waste of time if you feel strongly that economists are wrong anyway (I would never have bothered going through Marx if I hadn't thought that he might be right). So there are a lot of people undertaking (3), so there's a market for the literature devoted to that very type of argument.

And that is why your request, Nick, is reasonable but almost entirely futile. (3) is just such a tasty option.

(You find exactly the same logic applying in climatology, another political important discipline, and in both cases a majority of the critiques are written by outsiders to the discipline, perhaps because they have the biggest incentive to even up the playing field with the climatologists and economists.)

(3) is also the intellectually lazy and dishonest option.

another strawmen. I have read a textbook.

DavidN,

The first sentence isn't, if it's a sound argument. (It never is.)

I should add that the second sentence part isn't essential, but in practice it's an irresistable conjunct to the first. So, having patiently sat through a monologue from someone at a college meal about how all neoclassical economists are operating on the basis of "ideology" and totally unscientific, I was promptly told how Hae-Joo Chang is a great impartial thinker and all the policies that he's proven to be right all along. The person was not amused by the suggestion that Chang may have some ideology of his own.

We philosophers are the worst at this, because our discipline is the most general of all disciplines and so a lot of philosophers do this with ALL disciplines. This is because they have trouble accepting that anyone could be a cognitive authority over them, since we philosophers are obviously better than everyone else at their own disciplines (we just never need to prove it- see Aristotle's work on speculation and acquiring wealth for a very old example).

In fact, the issue here can be stated fairly simply as an informal logic problem: arguments from authority are only reasonable in a dialogue if (a) there can exist expert authority in the area of argument and (b) the authorities in the argument are experts. Since arguments about the economy are an integral part of political discussion in a modern democracy, people reluctant to accept the conclusions of most economists will be inclined to reject (a) and/or (b) as far as economics goes, in order to neuter arguments from authority in dialogues about the economy.

The last thing you're going to do, if you don't believe (a) and/or (b) apply to economics, is read an introduction to economics textbook. If nothing else, it's demeaning to even have it suggested that you need to be treated as a freshman in a bogus science. Steve Keen's "Debunking Economics" or something by Mirowski will do the job just as well and will make you feel that you are much smarter than those charlatan economists.

Nick, FWIW, I took intro micro/macro, intermediate micro/macro, and read an econometrics text book for some research I did one summer. I received an A, A, A-, A+, respectively. This was at a very competitive university, only a couple of years ago. Now, I fully admit there is a difference between studying to get a good grade and studying for deep understanding. I try to do the latter but I probably ended up doing more the former. For that reason, I keep an open mind towards the orthodoxy even though I am sympathetic to the heterodoxy these days. I realize I could probably benefit from going through the text books once more, now that I am motivated by a real passion to understand this stuff. But I still think the orthodoxy has a lot to answer for, at least as it is portrayed at the undergraduate level. Also, I think your response to BT London is baloney. The intuition behind ‘loans creates deposits’ was never taught to me in an econ course. I only grasped it because I took several accounting courses and then read it on the blogosphere/papers.

Excellent comments from W. Peden. I'm afraid that he's all too correct in his characterisation of a lot of would-be critics of the mainstream.

wh10: "The intuition behind ‘loans creates deposits’ was never taught to me in an econ course."

I'm a little surprised. Now it's true that lecturers sometimes skip stuff, because there's just too much damn' stuff to cover, or we get so involved in our pet topics we don't watch the clock and calendar. I wonder if it has been left out of some texts? (It's in all the first year macro texts I can remember, but I haven't seen them all, of course.)

Does anybody know of an intro macro text that does skip that idea?

Or maybe it's just the *intuition* behind that idea you think was left out? But there's really not much to it to leave out?? Even if a bank writes a cheque, or even lends cash, rather than just writing up your deposit account, that cheque or cash still gets deposited.

They're definitely NOT all good. I have 8 macro books sitting in front of me as I write this - McEachern, Jones, Arnold, Hall & Taylor, Frank & Bernanke, Mankiw, Romer and Champ, Freeman & Haslag. I'd say that the last 2 are good.

"Loans create deposits" is a shorthand or dog whistle for the position that reserves don't determine lending and deposits are not required for banks to make loans. Since this is the position of the Federal Reserve Board economists who write on the subject (or see this BIS report - https://www.bis.org/publ/work297.pdf), it doesn't seem very heterodox, but it isn't what is taught in most introductory Macro books (I looked), and Krugman almost had apoplexy about something in this story. He seemed to think this would mean that there were no limits on bank lending, a position with which I doubt the FDIC would agree.

The rules concerning bank lending are specified in the Basel accords, so I still don't know what he was so upset about. As you well know, Canada has no reserve requirements.

And I agree with Unlearning Economics, that blogging economists have been avoiding dealing with criticism of some sacred cows. Rational expectations would be the leading one, but the whole issue of the validity of using counter-factual assumptions in models and the resulting domains of validity of the results could use some honest discussion.

Then, of course, there's the perennial favorite - confusion among stocks, flows and integrated flows (like GDP, which is neither a stock nor a flow). The stock of debt and the flow of debt, for instance, are very different things, with different consequences.

Nick,

In his April debate with Steve Keen, Paul Krugman created the impression that he disagreed with the idea that loans create deposits. (I believe a lot of people came away with that impression anyway. (Did you, Nick?)). Personally, I found the notion that Paul Krugman couldn’t express himself in such a way as to disabuse people of such an impression to be almost unbelievable. Could he really not know what happens when you sign up for a loan at a bank branch? That would seem impossible in my view. The idea that some people actually believe Paul Krugman doesn’t understand this seems even more unbelievable. But there you had the MMTers and others bashing him down for it. But that bashing was understandable in my opinion, simply based on a reading of the debate discourse. Worst of all, Paul Krugman is generally one of the best writers in economics - for non-economists anyway - which makes such a misunderstanding doubly bad. How could he make himself so misunderstood on such a simple point, to the point that people then questioned whether or not he does understand such basic banking stuff? I couldn’t believe what I was reading. At a minimum, it was a way out of character example of bad writing on his part. And I can’t help but think his rather poor expression at the time (at least, because I shudder to think he doesn’t know that loans create deposits) was motivated by the same sort of frustration you’re exhibiting here Nick.

I do think there is an unhealthy asymmetry that has developed in the econ blogosphere. Why do economists write blogs, knowing they are at risk of engaging interested non-economists, if they are unwilling to learn anything from non-economists, or if they believe they have nothing to learn, or if they believe there is a tipping point at which no more can be learned? What’s the point? You may as well shut down comments or close them down to your fellow economists. I do think that sort of failure or malfunction of engagement is what’s going on. As much as I’ve come to dislike some of the language machinations and “paradigm” manipulations used by certain “heterodox” banking oriented people, it looks to me like the economics profession is collapsing in on itself in response to this. That’s not healthy.

Nick, see Peter N, and JKH nails it as usual.

JKH: See my 10:52 comment for my views on "loans create deposits"

I agree that PK's post was less clear than he usually is. And I actually said, in writing my first post in that kerfuffle, that I started writing it because I disagreed with PK on "loans create deposits". But PK was (implicitly) talking about the long run, and (implicitly) assuming the central bank was doing something like inflation targeting. And in that long run, it's all very different. So I wrote a series of posts clarifying that. (Actually, in that whole series of posts, and others, I thought I had fully engaged with the MMT (and similar) position, and explained why I thought it was wrong.

I have engaged A LOT with (mostly) MMTers, both in posts and in comments. (And sometimes, just sometimes, I would like to not engage with MMTers, and engage with New Keynesians, and RBC types, and even my fellow MMs, and others who speak *my* language.)


Peter N: "He seemed to think this would mean that there were no limits on bank lending, a position with which I doubt the FDIC would agree."

Short run or long run? If the central bank holds a constant interest rate regardless of the amount of loans and deposits and inflation created? Or if the central bank (say) targets inflation? It matters massively. Especially if you ignore reserves.

And even if you do have an absolutely mechanical textbook model with hard reserve ratios, it's still true that an initial shock to reserves will cause multiple rounds of loans and deposit creation, just not unlimited.

(The final straw that lead me to write this post was reading a comment on another blog which said that "loans create deposits" is a heterodox idea. Every first year textbook I can remember reading contains a description of how loans create deposits.)

But it contains, as far as anyone can tell, a wrong description of it. Piggy-backing off Peter N and JKH, I further cite the following paper from the Fed's Division of Reasearch & Statistics and Monetary Affairs:

https://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2010/201041/201041pap.pdf

The real difference between the heterodox/Post Keynesian/whatever position and the orthodox position is the dominance of capital constraints and the irrelevance of reserves. And yet you have a number of orthodox economists extremely worried that the large increases in reserves will cause runaway inflation, and a larger number at least saying that QE will have to be "unwound" at some point. This isn't exactly reflected in your standard New Keynesian models, which frequently don't include money and/or just have the central bank targeting an interest rate, but it's bizarre and worrying that it should affect commentary on public policy.

As a fun aside, the standard money multiplier in a first year textbook - I've got Bernanke's here, although that might be "intermediate" - has you dividing base money by the reserve requirement. Since Canada's reserve requirement is 0, the money supply must be undefined. :)

Nick Rowe,

It looks like "You will recognise yourself from my description." was over-optimistic. See Nathan Tankus's comment, for instance.

Here's a collection of econ books available online:

deited to embed link here NR

[Thanks Peter, but some of these texts aren't really *standard*. For example, it includes a text by that notorious heterodox economist David Andolfatto ;) NR]

Edmund: "As a fun aside, the standard money multiplier in a first year textbook - I've got Bernanke's here, although that might be "intermediate" - has you dividing base money by the reserve requirement. Since Canada's reserve requirement is 0, the money supply must be undefined. :)"

you forgot about the desired currency/deposit ratio ;-)

"The real difference between the heterodox/Post Keynesian/whatever position and the orthodox position is the dominance of capital constraints and the irrelevance of reserves."

Think about what happens to the loans-deposit story when you have a central bank that is adjusting the overnight rate to target inflation. That is what modern central banks do, and so that should be the default assumption of modern monetary theory. And ask yourself whether bank capital might be endogenous.

W Peden: Yep! As I should have expected, I seem to have touched a nerve or two, despite trying to write this very carefully.

You assume that there is something called inflation that can be targeted. My more Austrian view is that there are sectors which have inflations relative to other sectors. If you exclusively target one inflation, you open yourself to possibly aggravating some of the other inflations.

Obviously, inflation variation between sectors will give rise to misallocation of capital. This misallocation can be a loss of short term efficiency (say reduced GDP) or a loss of long term efficiency (like an overweight financial sector) or an exaggeration of inequalities (assets inflating relative to goods).

Overuse of GDP as an indicator leads to this sort of thinking.

GDP is NOT spending, nor is it income.

Peter N: "Then, of course, there's the perennial favorite - confusion among stocks, flows and integrated flows (like GDP, which is neither a stock nor a flow)."

Could you explain what you mean by GDP being neither stock nor flow? Are you referring to measuring it in discrete vs continuous time?

Dear Nick,

I, for one, am very happy that you have engaged A LOT with MMTers. Some blogs won't. So I thank you for taking the time that you do and discussing your disagreements with that theory. I find it educational even if you find it repetitional.

However, its not really fair to write a fairly provacative post in response to a comment from someone who may be MMT (not sure) and then not expect a lot of 'engagement'. One of the fundamental criticisms of 'orthodox' economics by MMT is that the banking system and the role it plays in today's economy is not accurately described. I know from my own experience that the idea that loans create deposits was not seriously considered in my first year courses. Or second or third for that matter.

Nick Rowe: "The idea that banks just act as intermediaries between savers/lenders and spenders/borrowers is about long run equilibrium."

In the long run we are all in debt.

;)

Think about what happens to the loans-deposit story when you have a central bank that is adjusting the overnight rate to target inflation. That is what modern central banks do, and so that should be the default assumption of modern monetary theory.

What does happen? Lending is constrained by the ability of borrowers to pay the higher interest rates - fewer projects are profitable at higher interest rates.

This should be what modern central banks do, but at the zero lower bound they seem to all abandon price targets and move on to quantity targets. So we're left with them pushing on a monetary rope: in the best case scenario, replacing risky assets with riskless reserves, but in the worst case replacing essentially riskless long term assets with reserves.

Are we all on the same page that the money supply is practically determined by demand for loans at the given short term interest rate, and not limited by reserves which will be supplied effectively without limit by the central bank at the given short term interest rate?

Peter N: Please excuse my (sort-of) Fisking you:

"You assume that there is something called inflation that can be targeted."

No, there are many different measures, and each could be targeted (but not all at once, of course).

"My more Austrian view is that there are sectors which have inflations relative to other sectors."

Then I'm an Austrian too.

"If you exclusively target one inflation, you open yourself to possibly aggravating some of the other inflations."

Agreed. It's not obvious which target would be best.

"Obviously, inflation variation between sectors will give rise to misallocation of capital."

Not obvious, but likely true, that different inflation targets might cause different stochastic allocations of capital across sectors, and that some might be misallocations (i.e. less desirable) relative to others.

Sorry, but what has this potentially interesting (though I'm not going to pursue it here) line of discussion got to do with people who haven't read first year textbooks?

Hmmm. Dunno. I think I remember reading the whole of Lipsey in one very long night as an undergraduate. Maybe I just looked at the pictures, which is where all the action is, and skipped some of the wordy passages, which don't really say much. Or maybe books were shorter then. Or maybe nights were a lot longer up North in a Scottish Winter.

My first physics text was Holliday and resnick. I subsequently used other books to teach when I worked as a lecturer. The striking difference between H&R 1960 was the wordiness of the modern texts. H&R would cover In a few pages of text what would fill an entire chapter in a modern book. Then they would go an in work out more complex problems. So the modern books had the same breadh but not the depth and are laborious to read.

Is there such an example in economics? The issue with economics texts I think is that the earlier texts do have the structure of my old beloved introductory physics book but the material is now actually somewhat wrong.

So let's forget about free for a moment. Whats the most efficient introductory text that is also correct?

Since there are a lot of people here claiming they never came across the idea that loans create deposits in intro courses or textbooks, I thought it'd be worth chiming in. It was taught in my first year course. I double checked the textbook for that course (Lipsey and Ragan) and found it in there, too. In fact, I remember going through numerical examples to demonstrate the idea in my high school economics class.

So let's forget about free for a moment. Whats the most efficient introductory text that is also correct?

That's a tough question, because economics is more like sociology than physics. For an introductory/intermediate textbook that takes a modern approach and starts with concepts used in current modeling - the representative agent, microfoundations - Stephen Williamson's book springs to mind. In fact, it's the only one I can think of that does not use IS-LM.

Edmund: "Are we all on the same page that the money supply is practically determined by demand for loans at the given short term interest rate, and not limited by reserves which will be supplied effectively without limit by the central bank at the given short term interest rate?"

The short answer is that we are not all on the same page, and that if you asked a dozen different economists, even those who consider themselves "mainstream", to give their views on that question, you would get a dozen different answers. Some of those differences would turn out to be semantic, or resolvable after discussion of what each one meant, but others wouldn't be.

For example, David Glasner and I are both "Market Monetarists" (though that's a slightly loose label) but we would disagree on that one. My own views are not "mainstream", but are also not "heterodox" in the same way that you might understand that word. It would take me a full post to lay out my views on that question fully (and part of it would be laying out the semantics) and then I would be fending of criticism from *all different sides*.

Here's very roughly the nearest there is to a "mainstream" position (which I disagree with in part):

"The stock of money is determined by the quantity of money demanded given the level of interest rates, the price level, and real income. And that rate of interest is set by the central bank (plus risk etc premia), but the central bank must set that rate of interest in accordance with investment demand and saving supply (i.e. loanable funds) if it wants to maintain its inflation target. So ultimately, the stock of money is determined by the central bank's inflation target, by saving and investment, and by the non-inflationary productive capacity of the economy (NAIRU output), plus a load of other stuff I've forgotten."

See? Simple one-way causal chains don't work, in this way of thinking.

Ryan V: thanks very much for chiming in to confirm that point. And I might add that Ragan and Lipsey (that's the Canadian version, but I think there are loads of versions of Lipsey internationally, and I used it as an undergrad, donks ago) is a very standard and very top-selling text.

GDP is the integral of value adding flows for a defined period. While you could define a GDP flow (and IIR Keen does) I don't see how you could measure it, given the complexities of imputation and reconciliation.

It certainly isn't a stock. You can treat it as one if you want to compare it to itself over other periods or with its sector totals, but a true stock has an value at any given point in time, and this value is quantity, not a rate.

This distinction is made more important by the peculiar nature of GDP. Because it combines results from (at least) 3 different forms of accounting and contains a significant component of imputations, it's difficult to compare it with stocks at known times. The result of accruing across the different systems is only meaningful compared with other examples of itself.

Jon: It's absolutely the same in economics. This is a pet peeve of mine. They get wordier and wordier, and contain more and more stuff, and get less and less efficient. (Because every instructor insists the text contains lots of stuff on his pet topic, and they daren't say "no", and just throw it all in!)

Mankiw is shorter than most, and quite efficient. I don't know what's the most efficient.

Peter N: OK. I would say that GDP is strictly a flow, but if you measure any flow in discrete rather than continuous time it becomes a stock, rather than a flow. A PITA theoretically, but not a big deal. GDP is a flow. Stats Canada measures a discrete time stock approximation to that flow.

"Sorry, but what has this potentially interesting (though I'm not going to pursue it here) line of discussion got to do with people who haven't read first year textbooks?"

Hey, you started it:

"Think about what happens to the loans-deposit story when you have a central bank that is adjusting the overnight rate to target inflation. That is what modern central banks do, and so that should be the default assumption of modern monetary theory. And ask yourself whether bank capital might be endogenous."

Peter N: touche!

To take an extreme instance of what I'm talking about-

"Economists are generally scientifically illiterate people, which is a shame. You can't talk about economics if you don't know physics, engineering, biology nor psychology, sociology and other and other similar subjects."

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=2761684730989137546&postID=1073553551630034628

Economists are such non-experts in economic debates that they shouldn't even be talking about economics. Leave it to the sociologists, Nick.

Consider the following story:

Someone deposits currency into a bank. The bank keeps a fraction of that currency as a reserve. The rest is excess reserves, which the bank _then_ lends out. The borrowers spend the money, and the sellers deposit the checks. The banks receiving the deposited checks present them for clearing from the bank that made the loan. They now have new reservers, which they now lend.

So, deposits create reserves which allows lending.

Suppose instead that a bank makes a loan and creates a deposit for the borrower. The loan created the deposit. When the borrower spends his new deposit, the sellers receive the funds, and they deposit them, and so the loan has created deposits for the sellers in some other bank. Now, the bank that made the loan may well need to settle up with the banks that received the seller's deposit, so it borrows whatever reserves are necessary. The central bank creates reserves as needed at the interest rate it sets.

I think the first story is very unrealistic, though it tells us something about reality. I think the second story is a bit more realistic, though not completely. Still, it tells us something about reality, though at the end, it assumes a central bank targeting interest rates.

I think a more realistic understanding of banking sees banks as both seeking to attract deposits and make loans. The notion that deposits just happen and banks are indifferent about borrowing reserves overnight from other banks or having deposit customers is wrong. That some loans are funded with capital, that banks purchase existing bonds, that banks vary the interest rates on deposits and loans, all fit in well with an understanding that banks seek to match deposits and loans.

On the other hand, the notion that banks _first_ accumulate reserves and then lend them is very unrealistic.

But the notion that reserves don't matter is just an artifact of assuming that central banks target interest rates. Money and banking can exist without central banks. Money and banking can exist with central banks that don't target interest rates.

On advantage of the first deposit, then excess reserves, then loans, is that this can be modified to understand a central bank that is targeting interest rates. I am not sure how assuming that there is a central bank creating a perfectly elastic supply of reserves at a target interest rate can be used to understand an alternative where there is no central bank or there is no target for the interest rate.

It would take me a full post to lay out my views on that question fully (and part of it would be laying out the semantics) and then I would be fending of criticism from *all different sides*.

I'm surprised you've not had occasion yet to do it, given the frankly shocking comprehensiveness of this blog.

If only it did Mulligan any good.

Why bother with a first year text book? They are simply horrendous.

The best way into neo-classical econ. is to read Romer's Advanced Macro book and Mas-Colell's Micro Theory and Hal Varian's graduate book.

Bill: "On[e] advantage of the first deposit, then excess reserves, then loans, is that this can be modified to understand a central bank that is targeting interest rates. I am not sure how assuming that there is a central bank creating a perfectly elastic supply of reserves at a target interest rate can be used to understand an alternative where there is no central bank or there is no target for the interest rate."

Exactly! We don't want to just teach about the here and now. The monetary system has been done very differently in the past, is now being done very differently in other places, and will almost certainly be done differently again in future.

(Parenthetically, that's what so hard about breaking out of the US recession. People can only see the world through the incredibly narrow-minded perspective of "Fed sets interest rates..." blinkers.)

Lord: and nobody mention that economist at one of the Feds, who I complained about in my other "first year" posts! ;)

I agree that whoever said the mainstream doesn't teach that loans create deposits should have been a little more clear, after all loans do create deposits in the money multiplier model...but ultimately the reserve ratio limits how much they can create. Now, was this simple point worth getting all angsty over? Absolutely not, you should have understood what he meant.

Furthermore, understand that most of the "heterodox" people who post on your website are not actually heterodox students at a university. They simply follow MMT and know that it belongs to something called a "heterodox" economics, and understand its heterodox because it's the antithesis to the way mainstream economics does it's modeling (that is, having nothing to do with the real world). Do they know what institutional economics is? Ie have they read Veblen? Do they know anything about Marx? About Keynes? About Sraffa? etc etc. Do they understand that we see economics as the study of the social provisioning process under capitalism, and that we follow what can be called an institutional and social surplus approach? No, they don't, they just understand banking and money. Is this sufficient to criticize neoclassical economics? Absolutely. Anyway I'll stop there, but I will leave you with one paper that is about to be published and addresses your very point, Nick:

https://eaepe.org/files/EAEPE-Lee.pdf

From Fred Lee, who is the antithesis of everything you stand for.

Edmund: well, I have written bits and pieces all over the place. And anyone who read them all could get a good sense of my views. But I've never put them all together. And my views do evolve over time, as I read, and watch, and think. (We aren't all set in orthodox stone, you know).

Here's one. another. a third.

There are loads.

MacroAgro: Are you a grad student in economics who did his undergrad in math or physics or something? (Just a guess.)

I understand why you think like that, but I think you are wrong too. And if you haven't already done so, and if my guess is even roughly right, you should hold your nose and wade through an intro text. Because not everything can be modelled in formal math. And in some ways, as you move up from first to second to third, fourth, MA, and PhD, all we are doing is less and less stuff in more and more rigour. (That's not exactly true, but there's enough truth in it to make it worthwhile reading an intro text.)

I have seen PhD students badly screw up comps, because they blew something that was taught in first year, and they either missed or never understood.

DDJ: I gotta hand it to you. That was a good comment. A couple of years back your comments were cr*p. You have obviously learned stuff. If you can only keep that upward trend going at the same rate for a few more years....you can be running the show, and take over from declining oldsters like myself.

I'll post the relevant things Fred Lee said here:

II. Heterodox Economists and Mainstream Theory
For the heterodox critics, neoclassical economics does not accurately describe the leading
edge of research carried out at the top universities and published in the top journals. Rather, for
them the appropriate nomenclature is mainstream economics, which includes both neoclassical
economics and the economics at the frontier that builds upon it but also deviates from it in some
ways but never completely breaking away to the point of blasphemy. The critics then argue that
heterodox economists’ knowledge of mainstream theory is inadequate at best, although they
provide no evidence, explanation, or qualification (Colander, 2000, 2003; Colander, Holt, and
Rosser, 2004a, 2004b, 2010; Fontana and Gerrard, 2006; also see Vernengo, 2010). For this to
be the case heterodox economists must either lack the capabilities and training to master
mainstream theory or deliberately decide not to acquire knowledge of it. There is no evidence
that heterodox economists are innately less capable than mainstream economists or that their
training is inferior (since most heterodox economists have been trained in mainstream doctoral
programs.) The latter explanation for inadequate knowledge of mainstream theory is also
questionable but complex as well. There is extensive literature throughout the 20th Century and
especially from the 1970s onwards in which heterodox economists have critically evaluated
mainstream theory in its various historical and contemporary forms over all JEL research areas.4
Part of this literature argues that neoclassical economic theory is incoherent and thus
fundamentally incapable of developing theoretical explanations of the social provisioning
process that are grounded in the real world.
This claim merits further but brief discussion. First, the objects of study of neoclassical
theory, such as preferences-utility, marginal products, demand curves, rationality, relative
scarcity, and homogeneous agents, are ill-defined, have no real world existence, and where
relevant are non-quantifiable, non-measurable. Consequently, the issues and problems for which
the objects are relevant, such as competitive markets, efficiency, and optimality are either
fictitious in that they are unrelated to the real world; or if the issues and problems are clearly
located in the real world, such as prices or unemployment, the objects have no bearing on their
existence. Secondly, the methods used by ‘neoclassical’ economists to develop theoretical
explanations addressing the issues and problems, such as deductive methodology and ontological
and methodological individualism, generally include fictitious objects and utilize concepts that
have no empirical grounding hence no meaning in the real world. Together, they establish that it
is not possible for economists to conjure up any neoclassical theoretical explanations relevant to
the social provisioning process that takes place in the real world. In addition, the neoclassical
theory of the provisioning process, which is as Hirshleifer argues (1985. p. 53) the area of study
of neoclassical economics, is itself is problematical. The core propositions of the theory, such as
scarcity, preferences and utility functions, technology and production functions, rationality,
equilibrium, ontological and methodological individualism, heterogeneous agents, and positivist
and deductivist methodology, have all been subject to intensive heterodox critiques. But even if
the critiques are ignored, it is well known that it is not possible to generate internally coherent
explanations or stories or parables of market activity at either the micro or the macro level; and
even if particular stories (represented in terms of models) of market activities are accepted, such
as general equilibrium, game theory, or IS-LM, they have been shown, on their own terms, to be
theoretically incoherent and empirically unsupported (Eichner, 1983, 1985; Rizvi, 1994; Lawson,
1997; Keen, 2001; Davis 2003; Lee and Keen, 2004; Ackerman and Nadal, 2004; White, 2004;
Petri, 2004; Palacio-Vera, 2005).
The above arguments suggest that because neoclassical theory is not grounded in reality,
does not deal with social considerations, and is internally theoretically incoherent, it lacks truth
and value and contributes nothing to explaining the social provisioning process in a capitalist
economy. That is, neoclassical theory is a pseudoscience with illusory knowledge or pseudoknowledge and hence is not a scientific theory and cannot be a scientific research program. And since the heterodox critics remain silent on this (or even acknowledging the correctness of the
heterodox criticisms), they implicitly accept the above conclusions: that heterodox economists
are extremely knowledgeable about neoclassical economic theory which at one time was the
theoretical frontier and that neoclassical theory including the one-time cutting edge theory is
illusory knowledge. Thus, neoclassical theory was never a rival scientific theory to heterodox
theory because it was not ‘scientific’. But this raises some issues related to the notion of the
leading edge or frontier of research since the critics acknowledge that the frontier maintains
some degree of continuity with neoclassical theory (Colander, 2000, 2005a, 2005b; Colander,
Holt, and Rosser, 2004a, 2004b, 2010). That is, if neoclassical economics is pseudo-knowledge,
then any theoretical developments or deviations based on it are, arguably, questionable if not also
illusory knowledge. Moreover, if neoclassical theory is illusory knowledge, then the mainstream
qua neoclassical theory texts used for undergraduate and graduate instruction contain nothing but
illusory knowledge. With nothing but illusory knowledge behind the frontier, it is not apparent
that a frontier exists at all and hence that the top economics departments are producing and the
top economics journals are even publishing scientific knowledge (Bunge, 1983, 1998; Mahner,
2007).
Since the entire theoretical corpus of neoclassical economics is pseudo-knowledge, it is
not clear why heterodox economists should pay attention to the mainstream frontier advances.
Yet, in contrast to the assertions by the critics, heterodox economists do engage with past and
current mainstream literature, including the cutting edge research.5 Their critical analysis of the
frontier research identified by the critics as classical-evolutionary-behavioral game theory,
evolutionary-behavioral-experimental economics, neuroeconomics, and agent-based complexity
economics indicate that as a whole they are too much based on and embedded with neoclassical
theory to escape being illusory knowledge;6 and if it is pseudo-knowledge, then there is no
reason for heterodox economists to devote their energies to engaging with it. Moreover, a
common feature of the frontier research is its utilization of mathematical techniques and models,
many of which are borrowed from other disciplines. This reliance on techniques and models is
the continuation of a secular trend in which mainstream theory has become increasingly
separated from its subject matter and progressively engaged in articulating properties of
internally generated models.7 Thus, the mainstream’s method of evaluating its fictional theories
is to compare the projected fictional outcomes of a fictional model to actual data, as if this has
any meaning. To circumvent the arguably irrefutable accusation of illusory knowledge, it is not
surprising that mainstream economists and the heterodox critics are increasingly defining
economics as a particular method of inquiry without ideological, theoretical or factual content or
intent to analyze and explain the provisioning process (which raises the unanswered question of
“is this really economics?”). But even this has been subject to criticism by critical realists and
others, in part on the grounds that no method of inquiry is neutral with respect to content.8 So,
given the theoretical and methodological arguments for the rejection of mainstream theory and
method (which the critics have not explicitly rejected), there is little apparent reason for
heterodox economists to pay much attention to mainstream theory:
Heterodox economists take orthodox [mainstream] economics seriously enough to argue
carefully why they choose not to adopt that approach. There is thus an important
asymmetry between orthodox [mainstream] economics and heterodox economics in terms
of engagement (Dow, 2008, p. 16).
In this light, it appears that the critics believe that whatever the mainstream frontier is must be
scientific knowledge that must command the attention of all; that what they think is important
mainstream theory must be uncritically accepted by all heterodox economists; and that the
absence of content and concern about the provisioning process is what makes mainstream
economics scientific (Colander, 2000, 2009b, 2010; Colander, Holt, and Barkley, 2004a, 2004b,
2007-08, 2010; Koppl, 2006; Fontana and Gerrard, 2006; also see Lavoie, 2009).
The heterodox critiques of mainstream economics are not, contrary to the assertions of
the critics, recognized or understood by mainstream economists (Colander, 2009b, 2010). This
is not surprising since they exist in a closed intellectual environment in which their training does
not provide them the capabilities to be theoretically reflective and questioning. They are true
believers so that it is not possible to pursue any heterodox criticism to the point that it leads to
questioning their own beliefs (Earl, 2010). But there is more. It is clear that heterodox and
mainstream economics are fundamentally divided by theory, method, and methodology. In
addition, they are divided by their ‘social’ roles in a capitalist society. Neoclassical economics
did not arise in the 19th Century out of some pre-existing pluralist environment, nor did it
incorporate heterodox ideas. Both classical and neoclassical theories developed within particular
social contexts and neoclassical theory emerged in political opposition to classical economics.
The central issue contested was not theory per se, but theory as a reflection of one’s position on
capitalism. As a consequence of the changes in social structure induced by the industrial
revolution, classical theory, with its production-based, surplus approach was providing aid and
comfort to the class enemies of the larger property owners (both landed and manufacturing), and
this development became more pronounced with the publication of Ricardo’s 3rd edition of On
the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. And it is important that this was coupled to
organized opposition to capitalism itself. Early neoclassical theory attempted to defend
capitalism through its individualist, exchange-based approach where participants are portrayed as
equals in that all have the same rights and roles in the exchange process as no one would
undertake voluntary exchange unless it was to her benefit. Coupled to a productivity theory of
distribution, this approach eliminated from consideration any examination of inequality, of
exploitation as the source of property owners’ incomes. And, with the housing of economics in
the university, a secure institutional structure could ensure that the prevailing theory would be
supportive of those propertied arrangements that lay behind the university itself. Any opposition
could be contained to fairly mild criticism of the dominant theory and the development of
alternative approaches that did not challenge those arrangements.
Neoclassical theory continued its social role throughout the 20th Century and mainstream
theory has taken on this role as well. In contrast, first Marxism, then Institutionalism and the
left-wing Keynesians, and after 1970 heterodox economics argued that the social provisioning
process can be and should be altered in favor of the disadvantaged, the discriminated, the
unemployed and poorly employed, and the working and dependent classes of society. This
would require more than economic efficiency; it would require altering state-property-social
relationships. It is this threat that emanates from heterodox theory which mainstream theory
must counter; and this ‘social duty’ is inculcated into mainstream economists since the day they
took their first economics classes. The critics fail to acknowledge this fundamental divide
between mainstream and heterodox economics (Henry, 2009; Lee, 2009).

DDJ: Arrgh! That was just a bit too long. But for once, I'm going to let it stand, as a token of my esteem!

"If there is one idea that I would really like people to understand better, it's the idea of simultaneity. The idea that causation does not always flow in one direction. And that what causes what depends on what we are holding constant for the purposes of analysis. And that depends on the shock, and on short run vs long run. Etc."

Nice post Nick. I had dinner with my next door neighbor last night. It's a useful exercise to interact with people who don't think about economics 24/7. Interestingly the topic of simultaneity in economics came up.

I'd like to add one thing to the wish list, especially when it comes to amateur MMTers. Instead of reading everything under the sun ever written by Marx, Sraffa, Kalecki, Lerner, Kaldor, Robinson, Minsky etc. can they please just curl up with the section on the AD-AS model in plain old Principles of Macroeconomics textbook some night? They don't have to believe any of it, but if I just had that one model for common macro vocabulary it would make my life so much more pleasant. I know you're all incredibly intelligent and starting at the elementary end of the field of economics is probably beneath you but I thought I'd ask anyway.

P.S. My first career was in mathematics. When I decided to go into economics I started from the bottom all over again and completed a BA in economics in less than a year. I can't imagine how the Narayana Kocherlakotas and Steve Williamsons of the world think they can get by without it. My perception is a lot of this fueding between "heterodox" and "neoclassical" economics is between two groups that quite simply have skipped Econ 101 altogether.

Mark, there is almost nothing of value in Econ 101, it sickens me every time a Paul Krugman, Nick Rowe, or Mark Sadowski brings it up. That's not to say one shouldn't take it and understand it, in fact I would appreciate it if one was to take macro/micro 101 but as long as someone tells them after the fact that it's all BS (if you tell them before they won't bother trying to learn it). that of course may be the problem with the armchair MMTers, why would they bother reading something they know isn't true, or makes a mockery out of reality?

Mark: "My perception is a lot of this fueding between "heterodox" and "neoclassical" economics is between two groups that quite simply have skipped Econ 101 altogether."
LOL!

DDJ: ECON1000 is not BS. It's not the last word on the subject, of course, but it's not BS.

Of course, at some deeper level, a lot of what all of us think we know is probably BS. But we don't know which is BS and which isn't. So we keep on struggling away, and try to make notes of what we think we've got figured out so that our kids at least won't go up the same dead-ends as we did, and those notes in economics are the first year textbook.

Are there people who think intro physics is BS? "WTF? There's no such thing as a frictionless vacuum. Why is there a Nobel Prize for this sh*t?"

Also: someone, sometime is going to have to explain why I should ever pay attention to MMTers. Do they have policy recommendations? Testable predictions? The sort of stuff that mainstream economics insists upon before printing it in journals and textbooks?

Mr. Gordon, economics is a social science. When econ 101 is reminded of that fact, then you can get back to me. Econ 101 has some useful things to say, I would say the macro has more useful things to say, but the micro is mostly complete hogwash and should be thrown out. Marginal utility, marginal products, hell marginal analysis and utility theory in general makes a mockery out of economics, the only social science that is generally not cited among the other social sciences, and the only social science that almost never cites the other social sciences.

Is that it? Pass.

Stephen Gordon,

"Are there people who think intro physics is BS?"

I can think of a fair few people in the history and sociology of science who believe that. Although they wouldn't put it that way, they'd say "Most historians and sociologists of science have refuted the notion that physics 'exists' in a vacuum from society and therefore is grounded in 'objective' reason rather than social constructs based on social 'influences' rather than external 'facts', so the notion of physical 'truth' is misleading." That's the polite way of saying, in my trade, that something is a big fantasy/swindle.

Do MMT'ers have policy recommendations? You're joking right? Don't worry, you haven't been paying attention all along.

As far as testable predictions go, "MMT" is simply a description of the monetary operations for a nation that prints its own currency, in addition to some chartalist stuff on the origins of money. It puts more emphasis on history rather than "let me pull something out of my ass and do a regression to see whether it's valid, and then I'll send it to a journal". Where the economist then comes in is to understand the habits of thought/institutions in society today and make policy recommendations based on those understandings. MMT is just an example of what heterodox economics is about, as I said before we care understanding the social provisioning process, in fact heterodox econ can be understood to be a historical science of the social provisioning process. Anyway we simply focus on different things and have our own research agendas, if mainstream economics were to disappear tomorrow it would have no impact on heterodox economics.

Nick,

Here's Krugman:

"First of all, any individual bank does, in fact, have to lend out the money it receives in deposits. Bank loan officers can’t just issue checks out of thin air; like employees of any financial intermediary, they must buy assets with funds they have on hand. I hope this isn’t controversial, although given what usually happens when we discuss banks, I assume that even this proposition will spur outrage."

https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/30/banking-mysticism-continued/


Is Krugman right or wrong here?


that of course may be the problem with the armchair MMTers, why would they bother reading something they know isn't true, or makes a mockery out of reality?

This is the sort of thing that blows me away a bit--because how do they know it isn't true, without knowing anything about it?

DeusDJ: No, I am not joking. Please name a policy implication. And it is a testament to years of seeing this bumph on the internet that I have to ask the question.

And I take it that the second paragraph is a long-winded way of saying "no".

Your can pick up used copies of early edition textbooks from all the leading authors on Amazon for a couple dollars, I have a small collection.

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