IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Abstractions, Things, Wealth, And Deindustrialization

Listed author(s):
  • W. Stanners

    (Over, Cambridge)

Economic theory is dominated by abstract structures. Underneath, there is no firm foundation. Above, there is a lack of rigorous confrontation with established fact. Basic theoretical concepts have no acknowledged definition. The apparatus of graphs, algebra and technical vocabulary are often vehicles for rhetoric rather than descriptions of truth. In this abstract world, it seems to be accepted without embarrassment that all opinions are possible, while adopting the style of science in delivering each conclusion as if it was a fact. The closest parallel is perhaps with theology, where also each practitioner presents his story as fact, but there are differing stories. This paper illustrates this theme, with particular reference to "deindustrialization". It points out that it is tangible things which are the primary measure, literally the sine qua non, of all material, cultural and intellectual progress. Official statistics necessarily aggregate market transactions involving tangibles and intangibles at monetary exchange values. However it is an error, in the sense of being a misperception leading to wrong action, to mistake this equivalencing of things and non-things as more than a necessary procedural fiction. In this system, one opera performance equals, say, 100 lorryloads of gravel, but the logical reality is that gravel is part of the primary inventory, opera and all other intangibles are secondary or consequential. This inversion of the important and the estimable lies behind the paradox of the deindustrialization which is in process and the deagriculturalization which has already run its course in some parts of the world - namely that our entire civilisation rests (and logically and factually must always rest) on the output of this (in employment terms) disappearing sector. Eventually, the sector which ultimately produces all value will appear in the statistics as one which adds zero value in current terms. Fortunately, the real word of affairs shows no sign of acting on this erroneous perception. For those accustomed to see the world in abstractions, misperceptions still seem to obscure the reality.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 9804003.

in new window

Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 30 Apr 1998
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9804003
Note: Type of Document - Word document; prepared on IBM PC; to print on HP540; pages: 18; figures: none
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Robert J. Barro, 2013. "Inflation and Economic Growth," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(1), pages 121-144, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9804003. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.