Books: Inside the Economist's Mind (I.T.E.M.) and Getting It Wrong

This Blog hosts discussion of issues relevant to the book, Inside the Economist's Mind, coedited by Nobel Laureate Paul A. Samuelson and William A. Barnett, published by Wiley/Blackwell, and the newer book by William A. Barnett, Getting It Wrong, published by MIT Press.


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William A. Barnett is Oswald Distinguished Professor of Macroeconomics at the University of Kansas and Director of the Center for Financial Stability in New York City. He was previously Research Economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, DC; Stuart Centennial Professor of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin; and Professor of Economics at Washington University in St. Louis. William Barnett has been a leading researcher in macroeconomics and econometrics. He is one of the pioneers in the study of chaos and nonlinearity in socioeconomic contexts, as well as a major figure in the study of the aggregation problem. He is Editor of the Emerald Press monograph series International Symposia in Economic Theory and Econometrics, and Editor of the journal Macroeconomic Dynamics, published by Cambridge University Press. He received his B.S. degree from M.I.T., his M.B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. He has published 20 books (as either author or editor) and over 140 articles in professional journals. His research has been published in 7 languages.



COEDITOR: PAUL A. SAMUELSON

The book, Inside the Economist's Mind, is coedited by Paul A. Samuelson and William A. Barnett. Although this Blog is hosted solely by the latter coeditor, the following is the information in the book's front matter about Paul Samuelson:

Paul A. Samuelson was the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Economics. He is Professor Emeritus of Economics and Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Professor is the highest rank awarded by MIT. His landmark 1947 book, Foundations of Economic Analysis, based upon his Ph.D. dissertation at Harvard University, established him as "the economists' economist" by raising the standards of the entire profession. Paul Samuelson's classic textbook, Economics, first published in 1948, is among the most successful textbooks ever published in the field. The book's 16 editions have sold over four million copies and have been translated into 41 languages. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Chicago and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. As one of the profession's most productive scholars for over a half-century, he remains an intellectual force of towering stature.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Prices versus Share Weights

I just posted this on The Money Illusion blog. As you may have noticed in the latest issue of the Economist Magazine, The Money Illusion blog is highly respected.

Glad to see there is interest on this eminent blog about what I’m doing at the Center for Financial Stability (CFS) in NY City. That said, I probably should mention that interpretation of Divisia money is more difficult than it may seem. In index number theory, there are quantities, prices, and weights. With Divisia, the growth rate weights are the expenditure shares, which depend upon all quantities and prices, not just one price. The prices and the weights are not the same thing. With the Divisia monetary aggregates, the prices are foregone interest (opportunity costs). Those prices are not the same as the weights, but often are misinterpreted as weights.

Consider, for example, the case of a Cobb-Douglas aggregator function. The expenditure shares are constants for Cobb-Douglas. Regardless of what happens to the prices, the shares will not change. Hence the Divisia weights will not change.

What about other aggregator functions, not Cobb-Douglas? Suppose the price of a good goes up. Will its share (and thereby its Divisia weight) go up? That’s unpredictable, since it depends upon whether the own price elasticity of demand of the good is greater than or less than 1.0.

The CFS Reports section, which is not yet online, will try to help with accurate interpretation. My new book also does that in Appendix E. Once you get the hang of it, it all becomes clear. It’s all about the microeconomic aggregation theory that we all know from the CPI, the National Accounts, etc.

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