The most recent issue of the Coyote Economist came out last week. The lead article looks at income and wealth inequality over the course of the Great Recession.
I was just made aware of a video on materialism created by The Center for a New American Dream, back in 2011. Psychologist Tim Kasser does a good job of laying out, in 5:37 minutes of animation, the negative impact of consumerism on well-being. He correctly notes that when people confuse the “good life” for the “goods life” they not only use up limited resources, they are less happy and less inclined to help others.
The video notes that confronting, let alone overturning, materialism requires not only personal lifestyle choices but broad social change as well. I have no quarrel with this, but feel compelled to point out the enormity of the task confronting those, myself included, who would relish a non-consumerist, sustainable and humane, society. Materialism is axiomatic to capitalism, central to its profit-driven need to grow. Dislodging this motive requires changing, or eliminating, powerful capitalist institutions.
And, while I’m still holding out for the possibility of a massive political upheaval, a more likely scenario is that serious change will not be contemplated, let alone institutionalized, until the life-threatening impact of ecological destruction can no longer be denied.
You can see the video here.
Indeed! ” … modern macroeconomics has achieved its ascendancy in academic circles almost entirely by way of a misguided methodological preference for axiomatized intertemporal optimization models for which a unique equilibrium solution can be found by imposing the empirically risible assumption of rational expectations. These models, whether in their New Keynesian or Real Business Cycle versions, do not generate better empirical predictions than the old fashioned Keynesian models, and, as Noah Smith has usefully pointed out, these models have been consistently rejected by private forecasters in favor of the traditional Keynesian models. It is only the dominant clique of ivory-tower intellectuals that cultivate and nurture these models. The notion that such models are entitled to any special authority or scientific status is based on nothing but the exaggerated self-esteem that is characteristic of almost every intellectual clique, particularly dominant ones.”
The state of modern macroeconomics is not good; John Cochrane, professor of finance at the University of Chicago, senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, and adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute, writing in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, thinks macroeconomics is a failure. Perhaps so, but he has trouble explaining why.
The problem that Cochrane is chiefly focused on is slow growth.
Output per capita fell almost 10 percentage points below trend in the 2008 recession. It has since grown at less than 1.5%, and lost more ground relative to trend. Cumulative losses are many trillions of dollars, and growing. And the latest GDP report disappoints again, declining in the first quarter.
Sclerotic growth trumps every other economic problem. Without strong growth, our children and grandchildren will not see the great rise in health and living standards that we enjoy relative to our parents and grandparents. Without growth, our government’s…
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In an Era of Increasing Fiscal Constraints, an Inexplicable Shift in Hiring Patterns in Higher Education
The same pattern has been unfolding at CSUSB.
In this past week’s issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, there is a very revealing graph representing the changes in employment in colleges and universities from 1976 to 2011. The graph is based on an analysis of IPEDs data by AAUP’s John Curtis.
Full-Time Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty
1976 – 353,681
2011 – 436,293
Increase – 23%
Graduate Student Employees
1976 – 160.086
2011 – 358,743
Increase – 123%
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Here’s the Spring Quarter 2014 edition of the Coyote Economist. The lead article, written by CSUSB Economics Professor Daniel MacDonald, reviews Thomas Piketty’s new book “Capital in the Twenty First Century”.