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LIST  December 2013

LIST December 2013

Subject:

Re: Kinmont] New (FY2014) government budget

From:

Japan Forum Member <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

NBR's Japan Forum <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 27 Dec 2013 15:02:58 +0900

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Non-economically-based prejudices that pre-date the 'Keynesian revolution' (that term used as a rough shorthand to include Kalecki, Keynes, et al, as well as practical men such as Takahashi Korekiyo) of roughly 80 years ago remain popular in some quarters and are a useful indicator of those uninterested in economic theory (a category which, regrettably, includes not a few economists).

Joan Robinson (in 'Economic Philosophy') got to the core of the problem of why some find Keynesian, purely economic, perspectives (or even such simple ideas as the potentially positive effect of incurring public debt) so difficult to handle - “What made the General Theory so hard to accept was not the intellectual content, which in a calm mood can easily be mastered, but its shocking implications. Worse than private vices being public benefits, it seemed that the new doctrine was the still more disconcerting proposition that private virtues (of thriftiness and careful husbandry) were public vices.” 

The confusion, which persists to this day, between economics and moralistic twittering was prefigured in Mandeville's 'Fable of the Bees' (1714). This work has just received an interesting treatment in Japanese by Prof Wakatabe of Waseda in his latest book on the intellectual history of the battles over deflation in Japan. And there's a lovely Japanese 'version' by Takahashi Korekiyo on the economic implications of visiting geisha houses. Moralizing cant is no substitute for either economic theory or observation - no better demonstration of this exists than Japan, whether one chooses the ghastly, negative example of the last twenty years or the encouraging example of Takahashi's reflation.

AK

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