Least self-aware comment of the year

Yet when Piketty visited the Guardian last week, he complained that economists generate “sophisticated models with very little or no empirical basis … there’s a lot of ideology and self-interest”.

Although I’m not quite sure whether we should attribute the lack of self-awareness to Piketty for saying it or The Guardian for repeating it. But a reasonable complaint about either is that this is exactly what they both do.

18 comments on “Least self-aware comment of the year

  1. Picketty has a massive data base of empirical evidence covering many countries over centuries .He does n’t have a model economy which he can run to explore different outcomes like the nerds with formulae that have taken over Economics destroying it in the process.His diagnosis is exemplary : but he is not so arrogant as to claim, by way of a prognosis, that he has the formula which will save the world.

  2. So, is he prepared to say which model and why it’s wrong?

    That’s like criticising physics for being wrong rather than why a particular hypothesis is wrong.

  3. I just thought he was another savvy economist who’d sussed they could make a fortune out of dumb lefties by telling them fairy tales that confirm their basic prejudices.

  4. DBC Reed: Picketty has a massive data base of empirical evidence covering many countries over centuries

    What about Aurélie Filippetti’s data base of empirical evidence covering only a few years?

  5. Meissen Bison & DBC Reed,

    One thing that’s important to understand is that Piketty’s data and models don’t necessarily correlate. For example, his data shows that inequality was high, but didn’t change that much throughout the 19th century. During that century the rate of return on capital was higher than the growth rate, which according to Piketty’s theory should have caused inequality to increase substantially.

  6. Current: I’m not talking about his economic theories, I’m talking about the woman he was beating up.

  7. “he is not so arrogant as to claim, by way of a prognosis, that he has the formula which will save the world.”

    So advocating a “wealth tax” to solve the problem is not a prognosis? And if it won’t save the world, what’s the point? (Aside from the obvious – facilitate more statism/corporatism)

  8. @The Meissen Bison

    I haven’t yet read Picketty’s book, though I will, and I’m not at all keen on wife-beaters, but his being a wife(or partner)-beater has little or no bearing on his economic insights, does it?

    Which, from what I’ve read of them, I fully expect to be wrong.

  9. @ Interested: by and large that’s true but then like most socialist myth-makers (and I’ve not read him and never will) he will claim a moral underpinning to his philosophical and political stance.

    Wife-beaters are less well qualifies than some others to take over the moral high ground.

    Also DBC Reed’s sanctimonious tone pissed me off a bit.

  10. The Meissen Bison – “by and large that’s true but then like most socialist myth-makers (and I’ve not read him and never will) he will claim a moral underpinning to his philosophical and political stance. Wife-beaters are less well qualifies than some others to take over the moral high ground.”

    Well he is in good company – Marx seducing his maid, Stalin driving his wife to suicide and seducing pre-teen girls, Beria and his odd rape-y habits ….

    I suppose that people who feel self-righteous about their socialist views think they are entitled to some leeway in other aspects of their lives.

    “Also DBC Reed’s sanctimonious tone pissed me off a bit.”

    I am amazed he isn’t 14.

  11. As for self awareness: nobody appears to have read the article by Aditya Chakrabortty that the Piketty quote comes from.

    Clearly the whole “apparently scientific” monopoly of Economic theory (and teaching jobs) by neoliberal nerdy- bores is breaking down under the pressure of pluralism (and academic competition).TW noodles on about market forces, market signals etc but does not apply them to his own professed discipline where the students are in open revolt and have been since the Millennial Sorbonne outbreak.

    The Economic ancient regime has to make a self -aware choice: defend the indefensible or make an accommodation.
    As TW is land taxer and proponent of citizens income he is already part of the emerging new orthodoxy (although well behind on the “banks create money” front where the BoE, of all people, has had to set him and the other monetary hold-outs straight recently).

    Piketty is not very obviously socialist: he seems like yet another reformer of capitalism .He seems to have proved that Capitalism pays out in Capital gains and in incomes ( as Michael Hudson has said) and that the balance between the two has historically favoured Capital accumulation and squeezing incomes and is doing so again. A matter for capitalist economists I’d have thought. Their mess; they clean it up.

  12. @dbc “TW noodles on about market forces, market signals etc but does not apply them to his own professed discipline where the students are in open revolt and have been since the Millennial Sorbonne outbreak.”

    Forgive me if I don’t worry too much about the ostentatious, egotistical peacocking of a (minority) bunch of kids fresh out of A levels thinking they have found the answer that everyone else has missed.

    Especially when they do so while existing in a western world where, insofar as disease and hunger have been beaten, everyone has shelter and clothing and various diversions, there are 35 kinds of foreign beer in their centrally heated uni bars, where they listen to protest music made on complex machines and transmitted via Apple or Spotify to other machines, pretty much all of the above has been delivered to them by capitalism.

    Whereas the state manages to deliver a giant war machine, tower blocks than smell of piss and an NHS in which old ladies die of agony in their own piss.

    The great paradox of capitalism is the more it meets all our wants and needs, the more leisure time these dickheads have to sit around complaining. I start to wonder if Mao wasn’t right. Let’s get the fuckers out in the fields for 14 hours a day.

  13. DBC Reed – “Clearly the whole “apparently scientific” monopoly of Economic theory (and teaching jobs) by neoliberal nerdy- bores is breaking down under the pressure of pluralism (and academic competition).”

    If you had the slightest historical awareness, you might have noticed the domination of neo-liberals is not remotely monopolistic and more importantly, it is recent. In the 70s Classical Liberals were a hunted minority and had been since the 1945. By the mid-90s, they were dominant in many universities. Because they were right and everyone else was wrong.

    “TW noodles on about market forces, market signals etc but does not apply them to his own professed discipline where the students are in open revolt and have been since the Millennial Sorbonne outbreak.”

    What have universities got to do with market forces? A few French students, a revolution does not make.

    “Piketty is not very obviously socialist: he seems like yet another reformer of capitalism .”

    Why is the Left so committed to this lie? I really don’t know. Do they think TP is more credible if he is not described as the committed socialist he is?

    From Wikipedia:

    Piketty won the 2002 prize for the best young economist in France, and according to a list dated November 11, 2003, he is a member of the scientific orientation board of the association fr: À gauche en Europe, founded by Michel Rocard and Dominique Strauss-Kahn.[5]

    In 2006 he became the first head of the Paris School of Economics, which he helped set up.[6] He left after a few months to support Ségolène Royal in the French presidential campaign, which compromised his neutrality.[7] During the 2007 French presidential campaign, he served as an economic advisor to Parti Socialiste candidate Ségolène Royal, who, in a run-off, lost the election to Nicolas Sarkozy.[8] Piketty resumed teaching at the Paris School of Economics in 2007.[9]

    He is a columnist for the French newspaper Libération, and occasionally writes op-eds for Le Monde.

    In April 2012, Piketty co-authored along with 42 colleagues an open letter in support of then-PS candidate for the French presidency François Hollande.[10] Hollande won the contest against the incumbent Sarkozy in May of that year.

    So not an obvious socialist? Apart from being a member of the Socialist Party, working for the Socialist Party’s leader, openly supporting the Socialist Party’s candidate for the Presidency etc etc etc.

  14. @I
    All these comments about well-fed peacocking (?) students living off the fat of the land and daring to express a preference apply to all Brit consumers. The students pay £9,000 a year for this present substandard neo-laissez-faire bum piddle and have a right to put out market signals ( similar to those put out by Harvard students boycotting Greg Mankiw’s lectures).
    @SMFS No amount of research into TP’s background alters the fact that his book is a giant tome exploring the two facets of capitalism: capital accumulation and income distribution .He does not want to replace the system (as do Socialists) ,he just wants to restrict the capital gains. Internal to capitalism.

    I would far rather he’d come out in favour of left-wing land tax policies but, as TW pointed out early on, he has n’t.

  15. @DBC you’re an idiot.

    And, for fuck’s sake, there is no space in ‘hasn’t’. You do it all the time. It’s a contraction of ‘has not’ but the contraction pulls the two parent words together.

    There’s also no space before a full-stop, or comma; the space comes afterward. You do that all the time, too.

    The fact that you don’t know these basic rules assists me in my first conclusion.

  16. What kind of idiot responds to an argument about Economics with comments about punctuation?

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