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Sunday, September 17, 2006



Mankiw: "To avoid confusion: Economics is still "about large-scale phenomena, like inflation and unemployment."

Oh, damn, I got it wrong again. I thought inflation and unemployment were empirical evidence.

Nope, there phenomena.

Phenomenon: An occurrence, a circumstance, or a fact that is perceptible by the senses. An unusual, significant, or unaccountable fact or occurrence; a marvel.

Empirical: based on or verifiable by observation or experience

Arthur Eckart

Mankiw is citing the forces (or vectors in n-space) that influence inflation and unemployment. One equation for inflation is the NeoKeynesian Production Function, i.e. i (or y) = t(l, c, r, e,....x); or inflation (or output) is a function of the interaction of technology (or productivity) with inputs, e.g. labor, capital, raw materials, energy, etc. (which is also the aggregrate supply curve). One relationship of unemployment is the Phillips Curve where inflation and unemployment are negatively correlated.

Edward Hugh

"we need to redefine "microfoundations" as starting at the neuron and building up from there".

Oh, I very much agree, the neuron and the eucaryotid cell. Basically this can provide a platform for studying how fertility, life expectancy and economic performance (at the individual level) evolve. This can get us through to a new kind of 'ergo-nomics' which will be much closer to biology, which is where I think we need to be.

We need to think about proteonomics (the burgeoning science that comes from comparative genomics), and nutrition, and fuel (ie food), and things like that and how the nutritional balance is so important in having longer living, taller, brighter people who are, of course, much more productive.

Edward Hugh

"To avoid confusion: Economics is still "about large-scale phenomena, like inflation and unemployment."

To avoid additional confusion: Economics is still (since it always was) "about large-scale phenomena, like inflation and unemployment" and how these are influenced by micro phenomena like metabolic pathways. (and how, oh damn it, small changes at this level can produce significant global imbalances. Was that a butterfly that just went past my window).

Edward Hugh

Sorry to be so impulsive, but I don't think any of these people have yet seen what it is exactly they are opening the door to. The brain sits on a body, it is part of a complex biochemical system. This is the ground floor (or basement area) that I have spent the summer working on.

Gladwell, incidentally, has seen another part of the picture:



This is the work of graduate school scholars looking for a "raison d'être".

Let's first solve the golden puzzle: Of getting leaner "haves" and fatter "have nots". Colossol task, that one.

In Spain and France and Italy, boat people (the lucky ones) are making it ashore looking for a better life. If this ever happens in a massive way, then we can take all the economic thinking of the last fifty years and shove it.

I don't agree in the least with Jeffrey Sacks' arguments, but I will accord him (and Stiglitz) the honour, at least, of having highlighted THE critical economic anomaly of the beginning of this millennia, namely, abysmal third-world poverty.

The solution has nothing to do with Neuronomics. It has everything to do with a "will to act". This has been lacking by blissfully thinking it’s not the developed nations’ concern, really.

Look how 9/11 changed, in one fell swoop, our perspective on the Middle East and the clash of cultures. Do we need something like that to “bring home” another festering problem which is much larger? I should hope not.

Arthur Eckart

I agree with A Perla. For example, I doubt Neuronomics will be able to help a spacecraft avoid being sucked into a Black Hole (e.g. would an ergonomics captain's chair really make a difference?). However, an understanding of your surroundings would help (e.g. the ability to map or plot a sound course). Nonetheless, at this point, it's uncertain to what extent Neuronomics will add to economics.

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