economics as faith (5)

Today, two self-explanatory – and rather sad – comments. The first is from an MIT colleague of Paul Samuelson. The second is from an ‘Austrian’ economist.

[A]ttempts to explain the impossibility of using aggregate production functions in practice are often met with great hostility, even outright anger. To that I say … that the moral is: “Don’t interfere with fairytales if you want to live happily ever after.”

Franklin M. Fisher, “Aggregate Production Functions – A Pervasive, but Unpersuasive, Fairytale”, Eastern Economic Journal 31:3 (Winter 2005), pp. 489-491.

Franklin Fisher (1934-) is Professor Emeritus of Microeconomics at MIT.

I don’t see [Paul] Samuelson as someone who traced ideas very deeply or as someone who thought outside the box. I see Samuelson’s technical economics like I see the work of a great chess master. To me, it is questionable whether he contributed to the solution of real economic problems. I admit, however, that I do not know all of Samuelson’s works and you may be able to persuade me otherwise.

I am aware of one sad fact about Samuelson. He apparently knew early on that the “good” econometric results of what became known as neoclassical growth theory using the Cobb-Douglas production function were an artifact. Yet he did not advertise this idea and a generation of lesser minds ended up wasting their time and a generation of textbook writers promoted a false belief he could have easily corrected.

Pat Gunning, Email to the thread “DISC–Scientism”, History of Economics Society, 19 September 2007.

J. Patrick Gunning (1942-) is a member of the ‘Austrian’ school of economics. He currently teaches in the College of Business, Feng Chia University. Taiwan. His home pages are posted here.

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