Saturday, 4 April 2009

British Economic History Society Conference

I have been having a fantastic time at the economic history association conference – so many ideas and great names being so accessible. As usual however, there were no economists in attendance (other those who are traditionally involved in economic history). We have so much to give to each other’s disciplines – Bernankie and Romer are both very central to Obama’s administration, and have both been very active in economic history in the past.

And yet when reporters call up to ask if we are facing the great depression, economists, especially theoretical economists, do not seem to re-discover an interest in economic history. Instead the answers given are driven from outdated research. Such a shame that such a great opportunity to re-ignite a mutually fruitful relationship has been missed.

6 comments:

Pandelis said...

I am not sure whether the relation you were hoping to be re-ignated was the one between the history of economic thought and the current economics or theoretical and applied economics. In any case, this last crisis (the way it was created and spread through the Globe) will surely create new directions in economic thought.

Alexander Apostolides said...

I was talking about economic history - which due to the lack of testable platforms in economics is the only testable format of economic theory. Many of the participants pointed out the mistakes in the current theory a long long time ago, but were ignored.

What really disappointed me was that when people started asking if this is like the great depression, economists run to books published in the 1930s rather than move the economic historians to explain the differences.

Pandelis said...

it is sad indeed. I guess history of economic thought is one area that is undervalued, in the whole undervalued science of economics - since is not properly "exploited" not even by economists. Eventhough I never did a course on this, in every economic theory I was always being excited by the manner in which economists came to that particular outcome. e.g. Solow created his seminal growth model based not only on stylized facts but and on modifying the Harrod-Domar model. Also the way Keynes changed economic thought and history, should had been then very exciting.
I dont know if those are examples of economic history, but I guess economic historians see changes (or trends of changes) in current economic happenings that their colleagues would only see just before (or after) they bumped them in the face.
Anyway. Surely the best analysis of the current crisis will be done/already been by economic historians.

Alexander Apostolides said...

Well economic history fills the gaps that generalisations of cross sectional or longtitudinal regressions or the non descriptive parameters in the error terms. Its not always true but sometimes they matter a lot - especially when people just assumed away leverage issues in macroeconomics.

Pandelis said...

I angree. The regressions in economics are known for their "sensitive" specifications and of what do they leave behind (or leave in the error term). Regarding leverage, I guess that most macro models assume unrestricted borrowing and include a kind of a "no-Ponzi" condition.

Alexander Apostolides said...

I sat through so many papers that argued that there is no irrationality in the market - getting them great academic jobs and great publications the last five years. They are now proved to be rubbish but they still have the jobs and publications.