Friday, April 25, 2014

Brad DeLong explains

"One thing that I had not fully realized before yesterday was just how much heavy a lift Piketty has in trying to persuade the American neoclassical growth-economics community within economics departments. Their--our--default view of the world is--very strongly--that it is characterized by a Cobb-Douglas aggregate production function, in which the rate of profit moves inversely with the L ratio and in which as a result the capital income share of total income is constant.
You may say: but if you have a model in which you assume the capital income share is constant, you then have no chance of ever explaining fluctuations in income distribution. How can you use a model in which fluctuations in income distribution do not happen to criticize anyone trying to explain why they do? And this is a more than fair cop. But that the habit of thought is not rational doesn't keep American neoclassical growth-economists in economics departments from doing it: their--our--first reaction to Piketty is: "t That can't be right, because in our model the capital-income share of total income is invariant to shifts in the wealth-income ratio." And they--we--typically do not take the second step in the argument and say: "wait a minute: in our model nothing causes shifts in income distribution, so we need to model"... from The daily Piketty:Thursday focus, April 24, 2014
See also Paul Krugman's response to Thomas Palley in 'Gottopardo Economics' "So by all means let’s continue to debate how we do economics. But inequality really isn’t a wedge issue in that discussion. You can be perfectly conventional in your economics — or, my own attitude and what I think is Piketty’s, willing to use conventional models when they’re convenient and seem useful without treating them as irrefutable truth — while still taking inequality very seriously."

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