[OPE-L:6205] Re: Re: econometrics

From: Patrick L. Mason (pmason@garnet.acns.fsu.edu)
Date: Mon Nov 19 2001 - 11:25:40 EST


Let's create a list of everything appropriated by neoclassical economics.

1. english
2. mathematics
3. statistics/econometrics
4. formal education
5. professional refereed journals

Clearly, we cannot reject something just because neoclassicals have 
appropriated it. The only thing neoclassical appropriation proves is that 
neoclassical economics has refused to remain static. For better or worse, 
when an intellectual breakthrough comes along some of the more imaginative 
neoclassicals attempt to appropriate it.

Consider the simple regression coefficient b = cov(x,y)/var(x). Why is this 
confined to neoclassical economics?

What's wrong with non-parametric estimation, which attempts to recover the 
functional form from the data rather than imposing the functional form on 
the data?

Jerry, please know neoclassical theorists and libertarians often many of 
the objections that you are making. Theorists of all persuasions are often 
hostile to econometrics and any other quantitative analysis. Why? Because 
theorists enjoy speculating without the constraints of relevance!!! :):):)

At 10:35 AM 11/19/01 -0500, you wrote:
>Re Patrick's [6196]:
> > Econometrics "is after all a branch of neo-neoclassical analysis."
> > Sorry, Jerry, this is just plain wrong.
>In what sense am I 'just plain wrong'?
>Let's consider the matter from a number of perspectives:
>1) historical
>        Is it not the case that econometrics was pioneered by
>     marginalists? Haven't they been its greatest champions all
>     of these years? Wasn't the journal *Econometrica* created
>      [in 1933]  and nurtured by marginalists? (An interesting footnote,
>      btw,  is that the first editor of *Econometrica*, Ragnar Frisch,
>      was also the first to employ the terms 'micro' and 'macro'
>      in economics).  What percentage  would you guess of all
>      econometric literature has been developed using explicitly
>      neo-classical terms and assumptions?
>2) if not, then what?
>      If econometrics is not a branch of neo-classical economics,
>      then where are the anti-marginalist econometric studies?
>      E.g. where are the Post-Kenyesian econometric studies?;
>      where are the Marxian econometric studies? (by which I
>      mean specifically Marxian studies rather than studies by
>      Marxists. E.g. Desai is a Marxist, but I don't really
>      consider his work *Testing Monetarism* to be a
>      Marxian study. Riccardo, btw, was the first on this list
>      to make that claim).
>3) critique and critical appropriation
>      If econometrics is not a branch of neo-classical economics,
>      then where are the *critiques of econometrics* from heterodox
>      economists which identify the failings of mainstream
>      econometric theory and list what must be rejected and what
>      must be critically appropriated and surpassed?
>  4) just a technique?
>       Is econometrics just a 'technique' which is theory-neutral
>      and can be adapted by economists from divergent
>      theoretical perspectives?  I find that claim (which you did
>      not make) to be naive.  Indeed, one can think of econometrics
>      as technique but it is a technique which has been both
>      historically and logically tied to marginalism. In the same way,
>      one could claim that cost-benefit analysis is a mathematical
>      technique.  Yet, isn't cost-benefit analysis a by-product of
>      marginalist welfare analysis and all that it entails? Is it also
>      a 'game' that we should play?
>  5) method
>      Do you not think that positivist and empiricist logic underlies
>      the field of econometrics?  More ominously, econometrics
>      has been the technique by which marginalists have 'proven'
>      their postulates.  Is there not a high ideological content to
>      many of the presumptions of econometrics?
>      For Allin: you claim in [6198]  that econometrics is a
>      "methodology for empirical analysis".  In what sense should
>       we then *share* the same empirical analytical methodology
>       with marginalists?   How could a field created by marginalists
>       not reflect marginalist methodological presumptions and
>       understandings?
>      What percentage of all econometric studies would you guess
>       rely on *linear* models?  Yet, how many of the real-world
>       subjects that econometric studies claim to analyze can be accurately
>       characterized as being linear and can be grasped by linear
>       models? (btw, I think that Allin was wrong in [6198] to claim
>       that chaos theory is a 'theoretical  framework'  whereas econometrics
>        is [just] a 'methodology for empirical analysis': don't methodologies
>        for  empirical analysis *require* theoretical frameworks to give them
>        meaning?;  can a methodology for empirical analysis developed using
>       one theoretical framework then be adapted to other theoretical
>       frameworks or does the empirical analytical methodology embody
>       certain core concepts of its theoretical framework of origin?; since
>       econometrics was born from the womb of marginalism how can it not
>       bear its stamp and theoretical lineage?).
>    6) the only game in town?
>         Allin claimed in [6198] that econometrics is the only [quantitative]
>        game in town. To begin with, I don't think that's a very good
>        argument for playing that game. At the very least one might
>        anticipate that all those who believe that econometrics represents
>        a 'methodology for empirical analysis' would critically consider
>        the theoretical presumptions of that method before joining the
>        game. (Of course, on a more practical level this is not an
>        option for most economists since they know, due to the
>        hegemony of marginalism,  that econometrics is the
>        'coin of the realm' and thereby serves as a 'measure of value'
>         for both economists and their work.  So for reasons of
>         career advancement, economists must practice econometrics
>         or at least take courses in 'how to play the game' before
>         being admitted into the fraternity of economists. This may be
>         a practical reason for 'playing the game' but it can not be said
>         to be a  legitimate defense of the game itself).
>         In [6200] Andrew B mentions Tony Lawson. Lawson, of
>         course, works for the celebrated Department of Applied
>         Economics (DAE) at Cambridge University.  Is econometrics
>         the 'only game in town' at the DAE now? Maybe Lawson and
>         others have come up with better 'games' to play?
>In solidarity, Jerry

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