Paul Romer: Stigler Conviction vs. Feynman Integrity:

Še en kamenček v razumevanju prevrata v makroekonomiji, Lucasovega puča na univerzi v Chicagu, ki je v makroekonomijo vnesel mikrofundiranost, reprezentativne agente in racionalna pričakovanja. Ali preprosteje rečeno, puč, ki makroekonomijo obrnil na glavo s predpostavko, da je makroekonomija agregat racionalnih posameznikov in popolnoma učinkovitih trgov.

Paul Romer:

Here’s how I would restate Krugman’s account. The path that led Lucas and his followers to increasingly implausible positions defended using increasingly adversarial arguments starts with Stigler conviction and a commitment to an initial conjecture that turned out to be false–that during a recession, the behavior of the aggregate economy can be characterized by a model that relies on imperfect information and a signal extraction problem that treats market clearing as a maintained auxiliary hypothesis.

To me, this gives a plausible description of how events unfolded, but it leaves the fundamental cause unexplained. Why did Lucas, who as far as I can tell was originally guided by Feynman integrity, switch to the mode of Stigler conviction? Market clearing did not have to evolve from auxiliary hypothesis to dogma that could not be questioned.

My conjecture is economists let small accidents of intellectual history matter too much. If we had behaved like scientists, things could have turned out very differently. It is worth paying attention to these accidents because doing so might let us take more control over the process of scientific inquiry that we are engaged in. At the very least, we should try to reduce the odds that that personal frictions and simple misunderstandings could once again cause us to veer off on some damaging trajectory.

I suspect that it was personal friction and a misunderstanding that encouraged a turn toward isolation (or if you prefer, epistemic closure) by Lucas and colleagues. They circled the wagons because they thought that this was the only way to keep the rational expectations revolution alive. The misunderstanding is that Lucas and his colleagues interpreted the hostile reaction they received from such economists as Robert Solow to mean that they were facing implacable, unreasoning resistance from such departments as MIT. In fact, in a remarkably short period of time, rational expectations completely conquered the PhD program at MIT.

It is an interesting coincidence that Stigler and Solow, two of the key players in this account, both relished a chance to use sarcasm and dismissive humor to get under the skin of their opponents.

The self-imposed isolation, together with Lucas’s return to the intellectual environment at the University of Chicago, may in turn have fostered the switch to Stigler conviction as the default habit of mind. Stigler, with support from such disciples as Kevin Murphy, dominated the intellectual environment at Chicago to an extent that outsiders might not appreciate. When Lucas came back from Carnegie Mellon, he pulled off a coup that displaced Friedman. But Stigler stayed. Perhaps the right way to think of what happened is that he captured Lucas.

Vir: Paul Romer, Stigler Conviction vs. Feynman Integrity

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