Economists And Their Assumptions

The standard (or neo-classical) view of economics makes a lot of assumptions. The main ones are that people have rational preferences, they are self-interested, they are utility maximisers and they have access to all relevant information (including information about the future). The economy is assumed to be in equilibrium, markets are efficient and perfect competition reigns (of course this is a simplification). These assumptions come in for a lot of criticism but they are defended as necessary simplifications. However, the assumptions economists make have a huge effect on the world of economics and therefore world economies. Continue reading

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Why Taxation Is Not Theft

Just as all political debates inevitably end with someone making a Hitler comparison, all debates with libertarians sooner or later involve the claim that taxation is theft. It doesn’t matter whether you are discussing the welfare state, universal healthcare or a TV licence, at some point a libertarian will accuse the government of acting like the mafia and stealing people’s money (just the last day a commenter asked me to “stop promoting the use of force against me or my family“, by which he meant don’t regulate bitcoin). Of course we all know this argument is melodramatic hyperbole, but it would be useful to spell out why. Continue reading

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I’ve Set Up A Satire Blog

As much as I love this blog, sometimes I like to try new things. Every post is so serious, technical and requiring so much research that sometimes I just want to have a laugh. Especially seeing as the world of politics, economics and religion is so bizarre that its wide open for ridicule. Especially religion. I started writing a few rough ideas down on paper and soon enough ideas for 50 posts so I felt I had to go ahead with the blog. When the world has gone crazy what is there to do but laugh? Continue reading

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The Case For Capital Controls

The standard economic view used to be that capital controls were a damaging relic from the past. Almost all economists opposed them as they believed they discouraged foreign investment, created barriers to trade and lead to an inefficient allocation of resources. The notion that the government could restrict how people used their money was found abhorrent by many. However, since the Financial Crisis, there has been a shift in opinions. Many economists support some capital controls to reduce instability in the economy, particularly in the financial sector. 250 economists from around the world signed a petition calling on the US government to reconsider its opposition to capital controls. Even major institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, the Federal Reserve and the European Union have admitted that there may be some cases in which capital controls are beneficial. Continue reading

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Atlas Shrugged Is A Ridiculous Book

Atlas Shrugged is a hugely popular book among American conservatives and libertarians who see it as a symbol of resistance to government tyranny. This is surprisingly because it is a horrendous book containing cardboard characters, over necessarily long speeches, absurd plot lines and at least 500 pages more than it needs. Continue reading

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What Is Going On In Ukraine? An Explanation For the Confused

Every time you open a newspaper or turn on the news, the headlines are dominated by Ukraine. It is certainly a very important issue but also a very confusing one. Like most people you probably don’t quite understand what it is about. You have probably figured out that it involves a lot of protests, something to do with the President, Europe might be involved and now the Russians are intervening. But it probably seems like a great muddle of similar names, unfamiliar geography and complicated geo-political affairs. If you’re confused by all of this, don’t worry, everyone (including the Ukrainians) probably are, but hopefully this post will make things a bit clearer. Continue reading

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The Genocide And Gun Control Myth

There are many arguments that can be used against gun control and while I disagree with them all, some are plausible. However, there is one that is so completely absurd that it hardly deserves the dignity of a rebuttal. This is the notion that genocides were preceded by gun control and that taking away people’s guns is the first step towards taking away their freedom and finally their lives. This argument is filled with so much paranoia and historical inaccuracies that it is a wonder that anyone takes it seriously. Yet American politics is so extreme that a fanatical argument like this can find widespread support among conservatives. Continue reading

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