Feeling economics

Posted: 5 January 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Mainstream economists like to think about what they do as value-free science, devoid of metaphors and feelings.

Stephen Ziliak disagrees. He invented haiku economics as a way of seeing and developing the poetry of economics. Here’s one:

Invisible hand;
Mother of inflated hope,
Mistress of despair!

Ziliak asks us to “consider again the dominant metaphor of market economics: Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’.”

Proponents of the invisible hand theory claim that free trade between rational, self-interested people and nations leads—as if by an invisible hand—to higher wealth. Some take this to mean that collective attempts to steer economic outcomes (such as by giving welfare payments to the poor, or by giving financial aid to foreign nations) will naturally backfire. People are already buying low and selling high, doing their best, the invisible talking hand says privately to economists. And the economy itself, here in the now, in 2011? Mother of inflated hope. Mistress of despair.

Clearly, it’s time for a new Federal Writers Project, which would serve to invent new metaphors to replace the failed metaphors of mainstream economics

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