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miércoles, 29 de enero de 2014

¿Es la Economía una ciencia o una religión ?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-17/is-economics-a-science-or-a-religion-.htm

Is Economics a Science or a Religion?

Is economics a science or a religion? Its practitioners like to think of it as akin to the former. The blind faith with which many do so suggests it has become too much like the latter, with potentially dire consequences for the real people the discipline is intended to help.
The idea of economics as religion harks back to at least 2001, when economist Robert Nelson published a book on the subject. Nelson argued that the policy advice economists draw from their theories is never “value-neutral” but foists their values, dressed up to look like objective science, on the rest of us.
Mark Buchanan

About Mark Buchanan»

Mark Buchanan, a theoretical physicist, is the author of the book "Forecast: What Physics, Meteorology and the ... MORE
Take, for example, free trade. In judging its desirability, economists weigh projected costs and benefits, an approach that superficially seems objective. Yet economists decide what enters the analysis and what gets ignored. Such things as savings in wages or transport lend themselves easily to measurement in monetary terms, while others, such as the social disruption of a community, do not. The mathematical calculations give the analysis a scientific wrapping, even when the content is just an expression of values.
Similar biases influence policy considerations on everything from labor laws to climate change. As Nelson put it, “the priesthood of a modern secular religion of economic progress” has pushed a narrow vision of economic “efficiency,” wholly undeterred by a history of disastrous outcomes.

Rational Responses

The economic zeal reached its peak several years back, when a number of economists openly celebrated what they called economic imperialism -- the notion that the inherent superiority of their way of thinking would lead it to displace all other social sciences. Academics sought to bring the advanced calculus of rationality -- with its assumption that everything can be explained by people’s perfectly rational responses to incentives -- to the primitives in fields ranging from sociology to anthropology.
The imperial adventure lost much of its momentum in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. More attention has turned to the psychological, or behavioral, revolution, which has established that the rational ideal of economic theory isn’t even a good starting point as a crude caricature of the way real people act. We’re often goal-oriented, of course, but we seek those goals through imperfect heuristic rules and trial and error, learning as we go. If anything, rationality is the anomaly in human life.
Of equal significance is a growing acceptance of Nelson’s larger point: that economics is riddled with hidden value judgments that make its advice far from scientific. In one notable development, the Journal of Economic Perspectives published a paper by economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson that examines how value judgments -- in this case, the dismissal of political repercussions -- have undermined well-intentioned economic interventions.
Most economists, for instance, see the weakening of trade unions in the U.S. and other Western nations in the past few decades as a good thing, because unions’ monopoly power over wages impairs companies’ ability to adapt to the demands of the market. As Acemoglu and Robinson point out, however, unions do a lot more than influence the supply and cost of labor. In particular, they have historically played a prominent role in creating and supporting democracy, in limiting the political power of corporations, and in mitigating income inequality.
Narrow policy analyses have repeatedly led economists to push for policies that have had unexpected consequences for the balance of political power. Acemoglu and Robinson cite the push to privatize industries in Russia in the 1990s. The idea was that private ownership, no matter how it came about, would ultimately benefit the entire economy. In practice, a rigged process gave rise to an illegitimate oligarchy and an increase in inequality that set the stage for the ascendance of President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime.

Tragic Flaw

More recently, the gospel of economic efficiency helped lay the groundwork for the financial crisis, mostly by encouraging overconfidence in the wonders of financial engineering. Theory-induced dreams of market discipline provided justification for stripping away entirely sensible regulations, such as barriers between commercial and investment banking, and for avoiding oversight of the booming trade in derivatives. One result was an extremely wealthy financial lobby that is still working hard to block reform.
In all these cases, the tragic flaw lies in the heady confidence that comes with a one-size-fits-all theoretical framework. There’s a real danger in seeing economics as an objective science from which all values have been stripped. Nelson preferred an older, more modest perspective on economics espoused by Frank Knight, a founder of the University of Chicago’s free-market school of thought. Knight expressed the view that truly careful social and economic analysis emphasizes the limits to human knowledge and “the fatuousness of over-sanguine expectations” from economic-policy designs, including those favoring free enterprise.
In short, economists would do well to derive their prescriptions from observations of how the world really works, with a healthy respect for its complexity. Faith is no substitute for informed inquiry.
(Mark Buchanan, a theoretical physicist and the author of “Forecast: What Physics, Meteorology and the Natural Sciences Can Teach Us About Economics,” is a Bloomberg View columnist.)
To contact the writer of this article: Mark Buchanan at buchanan.mark@gmail.com
To contact the editor responsible for this article: Mark Whitehouse atmwhitehouse1@bloomberg.net
  • Is Economics a Science or a Religion?

    Is economics a science or a religion? Its practitioners like to think of it as akin to the former. The blind faith with which many do so suggests it has become too much like the latter, with potentially dire consequences for the real people the discipline is intended to help.
    The idea of economics as religion harks back to at least 2001, when economist Robert Nelson published a book on the subject. Nelson argued that the policy advice economists draw from their theories is never “value-neutral” but foists their values, dressed up to look like objective science, on the rest of us.
    Mark Buchanan

    About Mark Buchanan»

    Mark Buchanan, a theoretical physicist, is the author of the book "Forecast: What Physics, Meteorology and the ... MORE
    Take, for example, free trade. In judging its desirability, economists weigh projected costs and benefits, an approach that superficially seems objective. Yet economists decide what enters the analysis and what gets ignored. Such things as savings in wages or transport lend themselves easily to measurement in monetary terms, while others, such as the social disruption of a community, do not. The mathematical calculations give the analysis a scientific wrapping, even when the content is just an expression of values.
    Similar biases influence policy considerations on everything from labor laws to climate change. As Nelson put it, “the priesthood of a modern secular religion of economic progress” has pushed a narrow vision of economic “efficiency,” wholly undeterred by a history of disastrous outcomes.

    Rational Responses

    The economic zeal reached its peak several years back, when a number of economists openly celebrated what they called economic imperialism -- the notion that the inherent superiority of their way of thinking would lead it to displace all other social sciences. Academics sought to bring the advanced calculus of rationality -- with its assumption that everything can be explained by people’s perfectly rational responses to incentives -- to the primitives in fields ranging from sociology to anthropology.
    The imperial adventure lost much of its momentum in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. More attention has turned to the psychological, or behavioral, revolution, which has established that the rational ideal of economic theory isn’t even a good starting point as a crude caricature of the way real people act. We’re often goal-oriented, of course, but we seek those goals through imperfect heuristic rules and trial and error, learning as we go. If anything, rationality is the anomaly in human life.
    Of equal significance is a growing acceptance of Nelson’s larger point: that economics is riddled with hidden value judgments that make its advice far from scientific. In one notable development, the Journal of Economic Perspectives published a paper by economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson that examines how value judgments -- in this case, the dismissal of political repercussions -- have undermined well-intentioned economic interventions.
    Most economists, for instance, see the weakening of trade unions in the U.S. and other Western nations in the past few decades as a good thing, because unions’ monopoly power over wages impairs companies’ ability to adapt to the demands of the market. As Acemoglu and Robinson point out, however, unions do a lot more than influence the supply and cost of labor. In particular, they have historically played a prominent role in creating and supporting democracy, in limiting the political power of corporations, and in mitigating income inequality.
    Narrow policy analyses have repeatedly led economists to push for policies that have had unexpected consequences for the balance of political power. Acemoglu and Robinson cite the push to privatize industries in Russia in the 1990s. The idea was that private ownership, no matter how it came about, would ultimately benefit the entire economy. In practice, a rigged process gave rise to an illegitimate oligarchy and an increase in inequality that set the stage for the ascendance of President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime.

    Tragic Flaw

    More recently, the gospel of economic efficiency helped lay the groundwork for the financial crisis, mostly by encouraging overconfidence in the wonders of financial engineering. Theory-induced dreams of market discipline provided justification for stripping away entirely sensible regulations, such as barriers between commercial and investment banking, and for avoiding oversight of the booming trade in derivatives. One result was an extremely wealthy financial lobby that is still working hard to block reform.
    In all these cases, the tragic flaw lies in the heady confidence that comes with a one-size-fits-all theoretical framework. There’s a real danger in seeing economics as an objective science from which all values have been stripped. Nelson preferred an older, more modest perspective on economics espoused by Frank Knight, a founder of the University of Chicago’s free-market school of thought. Knight expressed the view that truly careful social and economic analysis emphasizes the limits to human knowledge and “the fatuousness of over-sanguine expectations” from economic-policy designs, including those favoring free enterprise.
    In short, economists would do well to derive their prescriptions from observations of how the world really works, with a healthy respect for its complexity. Faith is no substitute for informed inquiry.
    (Mark Buchanan, a theoretical physicist and the author of “Forecast: What Physics, Meteorology and the Natural Sciences Can Teach Us About Economics,” is a Bloomberg View columnist.)
    To contact the writer of this article: Mark Buchanan at buchanan.mark@gmail.com
    To contact the editor responsible for this article: Mark Whitehouse atmwhitehouse1@bloomberg.net

    Is Economics a Science or a Religion?

    Is economics a science or a religion? Its practitioners like to think of it as akin to the former. The blind faith with which many do so suggests it has become too much like the latter, with potentially dire consequences for the real people the discipline is intended to help.
    The idea of economics as religion harks back to at least 2001, when economist Robert Nelson published a book on the subject. Nelson argued that the policy advice economists draw from their theories is never “value-neutral” but foists their values, dressed up to look like objective science, on the rest of us.
    Mark Buchanan

    About Mark Buchanan»

    Mark Buchanan, a theoretical physicist, is the author of the book "Forecast: What Physics, Meteorology and the ... MORE
    Take, for example, free trade. In judging its desirability, economists weigh projected costs and benefits, an approach that superficially seems objective. Yet economists decide what enters the analysis and what gets ignored. Such things as savings in wages or transport lend themselves easily to measurement in monetary terms, while others, such as the social disruption of a community, do not. The mathematical calculations give the analysis a scientific wrapping, even when the content is just an expression of values.
    Similar biases influence policy considerations on everything from labor laws to climate change. As Nelson put it, “the priesthood of a modern secular religion of economic progress” has pushed a narrow vision of economic “efficiency,” wholly undeterred by a history of disastrous outcomes.

    Rational Responses

    The economic zeal reached its peak several years back, when a number of economists openly celebrated what they called economic imperialism -- the notion that the inherent superiority of their way of thinking would lead it to displace all other social sciences. Academics sought to bring the advanced calculus of rationality -- with its assumption that everything can be explained by people’s perfectly rational responses to incentives -- to the primitives in fields ranging from sociology to anthropology.
    The imperial adventure lost much of its momentum in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. More attention has turned to the psychological, or behavioral, revolution, which has established that the rational ideal of economic theory isn’t even a good starting point as a crude caricature of the way real people act. We’re often goal-oriented, of course, but we seek those goals through imperfect heuristic rules and trial and error, learning as we go. If anything, rationality is the anomaly in human life.
    Of equal significance is a growing acceptance of Nelson’s larger point: that economics is riddled with hidden value judgments that make its advice far from scientific. In one notable development, the Journal of Economic Perspectives published a paper by economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson that examines how value judgments -- in this case, the dismissal of political repercussions -- have undermined well-intentioned economic interventions.
    Most economists, for instance, see the weakening of trade unions in the U.S. and other Western nations in the past few decades as a good thing, because unions’ monopoly power over wages impairs companies’ ability to adapt to the demands of the market. As Acemoglu and Robinson point out, however, unions do a lot more than influence the supply and cost of labor. In particular, they have historically played a prominent role in creating and supporting democracy, in limiting the political power of corporations, and in mitigating income inequality.
    Narrow policy analyses have repeatedly led economists to push for policies that have had unexpected consequences for the balance of political power. Acemoglu and Robinson cite the push to privatize industries in Russia in the 1990s. The idea was that private ownership, no matter how it came about, would ultimately benefit the entire economy. In practice, a rigged process gave rise to an illegitimate oligarchy and an increase in inequality that set the stage for the ascendance of President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime.

    Tragic Flaw

    More recently, the gospel of economic efficiency helped lay the groundwork for the financial crisis, mostly by encouraging overconfidence in the wonders of financial engineering. Theory-induced dreams of market discipline provided justification for stripping away entirely sensible regulations, such as barriers between commercial and investment banking, and for avoiding oversight of the booming trade in derivatives. One result was an extremely wealthy financial lobby that is still working hard to block reform.
    In all these cases, the tragic flaw lies in the heady confidence that comes with a one-size-fits-all theoretical framework. There’s a real danger in seeing economics as an objective science from which all values have been stripped. Nelson preferred an older, more modest perspective on economics espoused by Frank Knight, a founder of the University of Chicago’s free-market school of thought. Knight expressed the view that truly careful social and economic analysis emphasizes the limits to human knowledge and “the fatuousness of over-sanguine expectations” from economic-policy designs, including those favoring free enterprise.
    In short, economists would do well to derive their prescriptions from observations of how the world really works, with a healthy respect for its complexity. Faith is no substitute for informed inquiry.
    (Mark Buchanan, a theoretical physicist and the author of “Forecast: What Physics, Meteorology and the Natural Sciences Can Teach Us About Economics,” is a Bloomberg View columnist.)
    To contact the writer of this article: Mark Buchanan at buchanan.mark@gmail.com

    To contact the editor responsible for this article: Mark Whitehouse atmwhitehouse1@bloomberg.netCass R. Sunstein

    Flip-flop en Filibuster Congreso HACE UN lío
    Q

¿Es la economía una ciencia o una religión?

¿Es la economía una ciencia o una religión? Sus practicantes les gusta pensar en él como algo similar a la primera. La fe ciega con la que muchos lo hacen sugiere que se ha convertido en demasiado a la última, con consecuencias potencialmente graves para las personas que verdaderamente la disciplina está destinado a ayudar.
La idea de la economía como la religión se remonta al menos a 2001, cuando el economista Robert Nelson publicó un libro sobre el tema. Nelson argumenta que los economistas asesoramiento sobre políticas extraer de sus teorías nunca es "valor neutral", pero endosan sus valores, vestido para parecerse a la ciencia objetiva, en el resto de nosotros.
Marcos Buchanan

Acerca de Marcos Buchanan »

Marcos Buchanan, un físico teórico, es el autor del libro "Pronóstico: ¿Qué Física, Meteorología y la ... MÁS
Tomemos, por ejemplo, el libre comercio. Al juzgar su conveniencia, los economistas pesan los costos y los beneficios proyectados, un enfoque que parece superficialmente objetivo. Sin embargo, los economistas decidir qué entra en el análisis y lo que se ignora. Cosas como el ahorro en salarios o transporte se prestan fácilmente a la medición en términos monetarios, mientras que otros, como los trastornos sociales de una comunidad, no lo hacen. Los cálculos matemáticos dan el análisis de una envoltura científica, incluso cuando el contenido es sólo una expresión de valores.
Sesgos similares influyen consideraciones de política en todo, desde las leyes laborales al cambio climático. Como Nelson dijo, "los sacerdotes de una religión secular moderna del progreso económico" ha impulsado una visión estrecha de la "eficiencia" económica total sin inmutarse por un historial de resultados desastrosos.

Las respuestas racionales

El celo económico alcanzó su pico hace varios años, cuando un grupo de economistas celebra abiertamente lo que ellos llaman el imperialismo económico - la idea de que la superioridad inherente de su forma de pensar llevaría a desplazar a todas las demás ciencias sociales. Académicos trataron de llevar el cálculo avanzado de la racionalidad - con su suposición de que todo puede ser explicado por las respuestas perfectamente racionales de las personas a los incentivos - a las primitivas en campos que van desde la sociología a la antropología.
La aventura imperial perdió gran parte de su impulso a raíz de la crisis financiera de 2008.Más atención se ha dirigido a la revolución psicológica o conductual, que ha establecido que el ideal racional de la teoría económica ni siquiera es un buen punto de partida como una cruda caricatura de la forma de actuar reales. A menudo estamos orientado a objetivos, por supuesto, sino que buscamos esos objetivos a través de reglas heurísticas imperfectos y ensayo y error, aprendiendo sobre la marcha. En todo caso, la racionalidad es la anomalía en la vida humana.
De igual importancia es la creciente aceptación del punto más grande de Nelson: que la economía está llena de juicios de valor ocultos que hacen que su asesoramiento lejos de científico. En un notable desarrollo, el Journal of Economic Perspectives publicó undocumento por los economistas Daron Acemoglu y James Robinson, que examina cómo los juicios de valor - en este caso, el despido de repercusiones políticas - han socavado las intervenciones económicas con buenas intenciones.
La mayoría de los economistas, por ejemplo, ver el debilitamiento de los sindicatos en los EE.UU. y otros países occidentales en las últimas décadas como una buena cosa, porque los sindicatos "poder de monopolio sobre los salarios afecta la capacidad de las empresas para adaptarse a las demandas del mercado. Como Acemoglu y Robinson señalan, sin embargo, los sindicatos hacen mucho más que influir en la oferta y el costo de mano de obra. En particular, han jugado históricamente un papel destacado en la creación y el apoyo a la democracia, al limitar el poder político de las corporaciones, y para mitigar la desigualdad de ingresos.
Análisis de políticas Reduzca han llevado varias veces a los economistas a impulsar políticas que han tenido consecuencias inesperadas para el equilibrio del poder político. Acemoglu y Robinson citan la presión para privatizar industrias en Rusia en la década de 1990. La idea era que la propiedad privada, no importa cómo se produjo, en última instancia, beneficiará a toda la economía. En la práctica, un proceso amañado dio lugar a una oligarquía ilegítima y un aumento de la desigualdad, que sentó las bases para el ascenso del régimen autoritario del presidente Vladimir Putin.

Un error trágico

Más recientemente, el evangelio de la eficiencia económica ayudó a sentar las bases de la crisis financiera, sobre todo mediante el fomento de la confianza excesiva en las maravillas de la ingeniería financiera. Teoría sueños inducidos de la disciplina de mercado proporcionado justificación para despojar regulaciones totalmente sensibles, como las barreras entre la banca comercial y de inversión, y para evitar la supervisión del floreciente comercio de derivados. Uno de los resultados fue un lobby financiero extremadamente rico que todavía está trabajando duro para bloquear la reforma.
En todos estos casos, el defecto trágico radica en la confianza embriagadora que viene con un-todo lo que uno estándar que se adapten marco teórico. Hay un peligro real de ver la economía como una ciencia objetiva de la que han sido despojados todos los valores. Nelson prefiere una perspectiva mayor, más modesto en la economía defendidos por Frank Knight, uno de los fundadores de la Universidad de la escuela de libre mercado de Chicago del pensamiento. Knight expresó la opinión de que el análisis social y económico verdaderamente cuidadosa hace hincapié en los límites del conocimiento humano y "la fatuidad de las expectativas demasiado optimistas" de diseños de política económica, incluidos los partidarios de la libre empresa.
En pocas palabras, los economistas harían bien en obtener sus medicamentos recetados de la observación de cómo funciona realmente el mundo, con un gran respeto por su complejidad. La fe no es un sustituto para la investigación informada.
(Marcos Buchanan, un físico teórico y autor de "Pronóstico: ¿Qué Física, Meteorología y Ciencias Naturales puede enseñarnos sobre Economía." Es un columnista de opinión de Bloomberg)
Para contactar con el autor de este artículo: Mark Buchanan en buchanan.mark @ gmail.com
Para ponerse en contacto con el editor responsable de este artículo: Mark Whitehouse enmwhitehouse1@bloomberg.net