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10/3/08

Just a reminder on the articles: select two of interest to you, and report them to me on Wednesday, Oct 8; prepare a short abstract (2-3 pages) on one of these, due Friday, Oct 17.

9/30/08


A
s a follow-up to the (lightly attended) conversation yesterday about the history of economic thought and its unfortunately-limited role in academic economics, I refer you to an excellent site maintained by the New School: http://cepa.newschool.edu/het/. This site offers a linked set of short essays on theorists and schools of thought; lots of external links as well.

An important, if difficult, textbook that surveys the history of economic thought, often from the vantage-point of contemporary theory but also with “reader’s guides†to several seminal texts (Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Marx’s Capital, Mill’s Principles of Political Economy, among others) is Mark Blaug, Economic Theory in Retrospect. Cambridge (now in 5th edition, but I think the library copy is 3rd edition.)

Here is a resource that you might find valuable and interesting ( The cut-and-paste didn’t preserve the formatting, but you get the idea…. Check the website.)

Heterodox Economics Newsletter
Issue 69: September 30, 2008

From the Editor
With this 69th issue, the fifth year of the Heterodox Economics Newsletter begins. Little did I realize when I started this venture that it would become so popular and useful to heterodox economists. To celebrate this occasion, I have significantly revised and expanded the Informational Directory for Heterodox Economists. The number of graduate and undergraduate programs, journals, and book series has increased; and there are new sections that cover publishers, heterodox associations, heterodox/progressive blogs, and institutes and other websites. Finally there is an introductory chapter that introduces heterodox economics. The Directory is found at http://www.heterodoxnews.com/directory/index.htm and on the website of the Newsletter (http://www.heterodoxnews.com). It can be freely downloaded or a hardcopy can be obtained at http://www.lulu.com/content/4294874. I have also made some hard copies of the Directory which shall be available at the upcoming 2008 EAEPE Conference in Rome and at the ASSA meetings in San Francisco. Because the Directory is online, it can be updated; so if amendments need to be made, then please send them to me. There is one omission in the Directoryâ€â€Âthere is no section on teaching heterodox/pluralistic economics. I will make some effort to rectify this omission over the next few months, but I will need a little help from my heterodox friends. So if you are interested, please e-mail me.
Fred Lee
In this issue:
Call for Papers
- 11th Conference of the Association for Heterodox Economics - Economics for Equity and the Environment Network - Eastern Economics Association - Managing Economic Transition - Probleme der regionalen Währungsräume in der globalisierten Welt - Oeconomicus - Fashions: Business Practices in Historical Perspective - The Association for Institutional Thought
Conferences, Seminars and Lectures
- Seminar at University of Lille 1 on Pluralism and Heterodox Economics and Heterodox Microeconomics - How to make corporations accountable - Keynes Seminar - London Marx-Hegel Reading Group - Pluralism in Economics: rethinking the teaching of economics - COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY SEMINAR ON FULL EMPLOYMENT, SOCIAL WELFARE AND EQUITY - Marx and Philosophy Society - Cognitive Capital & Spaces of Mobility
Job Postings for Heterodox Economists
- Siena College - University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA - Senior Researcher - SUNY–New Paltz - SUNY–New Paltz - George Mason University - University of Manitoba
Heterodox Conference Papers and Reports and Articles
- GDAE Publications - Conflicting claims and equilibrium adjustment processes in a stock-flow consistent macro model - On the Determinacy of New Keynesian Models with Staggered Wage and Price Setting - Macroeconomics without the LM: A Post-Keynesian Perspective
Heterodox Journals and Newsletters
- On The Horizon - Review of Social Economy - Economia e Sociedade, Campinas - Ola Financiera - International Journal of Political Economy - Contributions to Political Economy - New Socialist - Rethinking Marxism
Heterodox Books and Book Series
- The Political Economy of Hemispheric Integration - Pour une économie historique de la monnaie
Heterodox Book Reviews
- Reclaiming Marx’s Capital
The HEN-IRE-FPH Project
- The HEN-IRE-FPH Project for Developing Heterodox Economics and Rethinking the Economy Through Debate and Dialogue
Heterodox Graduate Program and PhD Scholarships
- IMK-Doktorandenprogramm
Queries from Heterodox Economists
- History of Economics Playground
For Your Information
- Open Invitation - William R. Waters Research Grant - The Current Importance of Marx, 150 Years After the Grundrisse - Labor Documentary - Putting Doha on life support - Political Cartoons of the US Financial Crisis






9/28/08

Review questions and exercises: the Questions for Review in the text are generally more conceptual that the Exercises, and they are probably the more useful to you. Perhaps you have already worked through the questions for Chs. 4 and 5. As you know, I don’t emphasize calculation, but you should know how to solve basic algebraic/numerical/graphical examples: computing elasticities, solving for equilibrium price and quantity if given linear demand and supply equations, calculating consumer/producer surplus as areas under straight-line demand/supply functions, calculating expected values, plotting relationships for given data, and so on. I will leave it to you, especially considering that you have access to the solutions, to decide which Exercises (at least from Chs. 4 and 5) will aid in your understanding/facility. A few of the Exercises in the book refer to sections we have skipped, though those should be evident. I strongly encourage you to try problems first without reference to the solutions; and, as you know, I encourage you to work in pairs or groups. There is no substitute for explaining to someone else something you think you understand.

Anybody looked at the student study guide (6th ed.) on the reserve shelf?

The bottom line is that this material is, as advertised, difficult, and it should not be surprising that it requires a lot of your time and attention. Investment now will pay off later in that similar formulations turn up later (and later still.)

Here are three problems that give you the opportunity to extend your understanding of consumer theory.


1. How can you use indifference curve analysis to explore consumer choice between present and future consumption as a function of the interest rate? For simplicity, consider a two-period case, where period 1 is “work†and period 2 is “retirement.†The income earned in period 1 can be divided between periods 1 and 2 according to preferences. (Don’t complicate this with taxes or bequests.) Any income not consumed in period 1 earns interest, which is available in period 2 as increased consumption.

Assume that initial interest rate r = 10%. Draw a budget line showing the available combinations of consumption in the two periods. Draw some representative indifference curves, and show the consumer’s equilibrium.
Now show what happens if the interest rate were to rise to, say, 20% (for diagrammatic effect.) How does the distinction between income and substitution effects help you explain various possible outcomes?

2. How does income distribution affect the market demand curve? Suppose we have 100 consumers, divided into two groups of equal size. High-income consumers (HICs) have twice as much income as low-income consumers (LICs.) Income elasticities of demand also differ: the value is 1 for HICs and 2 for LICs. (Note: Is this reasonable?) To make this diagrammatically clear (if oversimplified), assume that the individual demand curves for both groups begin on the price axis at P=$10. HICs will demand 10 units at P=$0, and LICs will demand half as much. A) Show individual and market demand curves. B) Suppose an income transfer program shifts 10% of HICs income to LICs. Draw individual and market demand curves after the change.

3. Payment schemes for municipal trash collection vary widely. Draw a diagram on which Other Goods (vertical axis) is plotted against trash disposal in pounds (horizontal axis.) Compare the circumstance facing a representative consumer under A) a flat fee per year for unlimited disposal and B) a charge per pound. Realistically, a charge per pound at the household level is hard to administer, so let’s say households have to purchase special bags from the municipality and that only trash in those bags will be collected; don’t work this complication into your analysis. What do the budget lines look like in these two cases? Draw some indifference curves to explore how consumers would fare in each instance.



9/18/08.
I suppose putting newest entries first makes more sense (in contrast to previous entry.) I will begin posting commentary/notes on textbook material if you are in the habit of looking here regularly. I'll ask tomorrow (or, one of you who reads this here can remind me to ask if I forget.)

9/15/08.
Although we are not likely to manage this much material on Wednesday, please read through section 4.4. Some of this will be familiar: we have already said something about aggregating individual demand curves to generate the market demand, and we have already introduced the concept of consumer surplus.

9/16/08. Here are some resources you might find of interest. I will add more over the next days/weeks.

The American Economic Association maintains an "Undergraduate Economics Website." This represents a mainstream view of the discipline, as suits the major professional association of American economists. Includes advice on graduate school, important skills to acquire, recommended readings, etc.
www.vanderbilt.edu/AEA/students.

The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College supports research programs on a variety of macro issues, income and wealth distribution, gender equity, immigration, and more. Research and discussion papers at www.levy.org.

The Federal Reserve, both the Board of Governors and the regional banks, maintain extensive data collection/dissemination and research programs (including on topics that might not seem central to the Fed's purview.) The papers and publications of the Boston Fed are at www.bos.frb.org/economic/research.htm

Looking for free-market views? Check out the Ludwig von Mises Institute at www.mises.org

Looking for progressive views? Check out Dollars and Sense, "The Magazine of Economic Justice," at www.dollarsandsense.org

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