Economics Elsewhere: Three tales that may rock the boat


It’s somewhat ironic that, amid all the anxiety over the future of the euro, economists are asked for their views.
After all, why rely on a profession that is structured like a primitive tribe, with hierarchical kinship structures, a slew of rituals, and no room for a free market in liturgy as publications are dominated by a Brahmanical priesthood?

It’s somewhat ironic that, amid all the anxiety over the future of the euro, economists are asked for their views.
After all, why rely on a profession that is structured like a primitive tribe, with hierarchical kinship structures, a slew of rituals, and no room for a free market in liturgy as publications are dominated by a Brahmanical priesthood?

 

Villa dei misteri, Pompei, Italy.

That, at least is how they appear to Marion Fourcade, a professor of sociology at Berkeley and associate fellow at the Max Planck Sciences Po Center in Paris, who conducted a kind of ethnography on the rival discipline.
Infinite jests aside, there is trouble afoot. Things that could never happen did, and the finance gurus now don’t blush when they refer every few months to events which, measured by standard deviations, should occur once every million years or so.
This post will take a look at three economic facts that may spur some new ways of thinking or simply don’t square with much of what is assumed to be true.

 

African carrots

Haja Sundu Marrah is the head of a women vegetable farmers’cooperative in Sierra Leone’s northern Koinadugu district. Her group took out a loan to expand planting of cabbages, tomatoes, lettuces, onions and carrots for sale in Freetown. Recently the Ebola outbreak led to a crackdown on movements in the country, forcing the perishable produce to be sold locally – for prices 70 percent lower than in the urban capital. Marrah’s lament: The price of vegetables is now determined by customers because of the lack of access to markets.
That phrase warrants being digested slowly and not dismissed as confused. She is suggesting that the price signal itself is different when set by markets or by customers, thus drawing a strong distinction between the two. There are central bankers today who wish they had realized that during real estate booms driven by debt markets whose resuscitation now has investors on edge.

 

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