A Conversation for Economics

The Dismal "Science"

Post 1

Researcher 52317

As a science Economics is more akin to sociology or the less empirical parts of psychology than the "hard" sciences. This is largely because though is does manage to produce theories that can be tested in the real world, no one can ever agree on what the results were or what they mean.

Interestingly Economics actually changes the system it is studying. Which makes it even harder to know what is going on. For example, if it is found that putting money in the bank is better than playing the stock market,then people will follow that advice leading to banks cutting their interest rates, and the finding becoming wrong... so the next study finds that the stock market is better than banks ... and so on ad absurdium.

The other funny thing about economics is that the only economist anyone has ever heard of never existed, despite having a town named after him (Milton Keynes).

The Dismal

Post 2

Fruitbat (Eric the)

This is reminding me strongly of a book I started wading through while still doing the Infotec programme: The Friction-Free Economy. Mostly, the book was about how to reorient economic thinking for the digital age and how most economists are still mired in the Old Economy.
As most of us are becoming familiar with the New Economy's tactics, if nothing else, we're seeing little bits of what being digital really means (as if the collapse of the Berings Bank weren't evidence enough).
As much as the Old Economic model made little sense in practice, the New Economy feels a bit like dirty pool: In order to keep selling software, a given company has to make changes to the next issue sufficiently powerful to merit buying the new instead of maintaining the old. (That the old still works perfectly and does what's asked of it isn't the issue; the issue is to sell something new to keep the company financially viable.)

To sell the next upgrade, the company either had to constantly re-write the software each time, or design it to be released incrementally until the whole thing's complete....which leaves consumers wondering why they didn't just do the whole job in the first place.

Add to that selling internationally, and the whole thing becomes a circus.


The Dismal

Post 3

A Passing Bowl of Petunias

I was led to believe that economics was changing the future in order to stop history repeating itself....or if you've managed to figure out how to make some money instead of just scraping by on the meagre amounts that employers pay then the system will be changed by the buggers (can I say buggers??) who didnt figure it out first..

By the way I failed my economics exam - twice then passed (just) many moons ago - forgotten it all now though (phew! what a relief!!)

Him over there next to the other one

The Dismal

Post 4

Lonnytunes - Winter Is Here

Are economists failed accountants or is it the other way round?

The problem with economics...

Post 5


Such a system where there are lots of individual "agents" working according to a changing set of rules is called a "Complex Adaptive System". Economics can basically be thought of to be the study of such systems - and, indeed, progress is being made in understanding them.

The main thing that has been found out so far is that such systems are chaotic - essentially unpredictable, like the weather. In fact, goverments and banks might feel like they have control over the economy, but it's all an illusion... like someone with the impression that they've worked out a "system" for beating the slot machines...

Economy can be a science - but in its most scientific form it doesn't tell us anything we want to know.

The Dismal

Post 6

A Passing Bowl of Petunias

Good Question!

I am an accountant (and I'm boring - just to maintain the tradition you understand!) - as to a failure at economics -well, er, um, er , yes.

The other thing that I fail at is growing household plants, not much of a connection but if Economics is a branch of accountancy then there may be a connection with household plants.

No, the other one

The problem with economics...

Post 7

Fruitbat (Eric the)

I'm starting to think that if economics is a science then it holds the same level of credibility as Astrology.
That book I started reading went to great lengths to emphasize the surrender of "Classical" economics to those of the WWW. The old system relied on supply-and-demand checks and balances. Apparently, they aren't useful in an electronic-money world where upgrades could've been incorporated into the first round of software...only there'd be nothing more to sell.

This whole thing makes me wonder since the current barometers for the health of major economies is housing-starts, minerals and anything old-economy. The new stuff, that's running a lot of today simply isn't being accounted for....or it wasn't, anyway.


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