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The 1-2-3 Toolbox of Mainstream Economics: Promising Everything, Delivering Nothing

Author

Listed:
  • Bichler, Shimshon
  • Nitzan, Jonathan

Abstract

We write this essay for both lay readers and scientists, though mainstream economists are welcome to enjoy it too. Our subject is the basic toolbox of mainstream economics. The most important tools in this box are demand, supply and equilibrium. All mainstream economists – as well as many heterodox ones – use these tools, pretty much all the time. They are essential. Without them, the entire discipline collapses. But in our view, these are not scientific tools. Economists manipulate them on paper with impeccable success (at least in their own opinion). But the manipulations are entirely imaginary. Contrary to what economists tell us, demand, supply and equilibrium do not carry over to the actual world: they cannot be empirically identified; they cannot be observed, directly or indirectly; and they certainly cannot be objectively measured. And this is a problem because science without objective empirical tools is hardly science at all.

Suggested Citation

  • Bichler, Shimshon & Nitzan, Jonathan, 2021. "The 1-2-3 Toolbox of Mainstream Economics: Promising Everything, Delivering Nothing," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2021/03, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:capwps:202103
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    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/231742/1/20210300_bn_the_1_2_3_toolbox_wpcasp.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Douglas Fisher & Adrian R. Fleissig & Apostolos Serletis, 2006. "An Empirical Comparison of Flexible Demand System Functional Forms," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Money And The Economy, chapter 13, pages 247-277, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    2. David Colander, 2007. "Edgeworth's Hedonimeter and the Quest to Measure Utility," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0723, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
    3. E. J. Working, 1927. "What Do Statistical "Demand Curves" Show?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(2), pages 212-235.
    4. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
    5. David Colander, 2007. "Retrospectives: Edgeworth's Hedonimeter and the Quest to Measure Utility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 215-226, Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    demand; econometrics; equilibrium; neoclassical economics; science; supply;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E13 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Neoclassical
    • C01 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - Econometrics
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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