When Does Trade Become Extortion?

When does trade become extortion? Economists say never, at least in principle. Free trade is a voluntary exchange between two parties who both stand to gain from the trade. Where’s the extortion? Let’s consider a criminal transaction in the airport of some backwoods country. A customs agent says you have to pay him a thousand… Continue reading When Does Trade Become Extortion?

Bait and Switch

My complaint isn’t with the market. Try running a complex society without trade or money. My complaint is how so many never practice what they preach. It’s a matter of bait and switch. That means promising something good but delivering something else. Economists are masters of bait and switch. The bait of utopian capitalism is… Continue reading Bait and Switch

Corporate Libertarian Socialism

We live in a bizarre world where we believe in libertarian free-market ideology, while we let the corporate sector practice socialism. Yet we don’t admit to either of them. “Wait”, you say. “I’m no libertarian. I believe in public parklands, and city street cleaning, and municipal firefighters and all kinds of other public services. The… Continue reading Corporate Libertarian Socialism

Nobel Economics Winner — Kept on Sidelines

The latest winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (oddly named because it was not on the original list of Nobel Prizes) is the American, Richard Thaler. He did good pioneering work on Behavioral Economics. But despite the accolade, every effort will be made — successfully — to keep him on the sidelines.… Continue reading Nobel Economics Winner — Kept on Sidelines

Economics vs Weather

Imagine if you will, you’re planning an ocean cruise, and you want to know whether you might face rough seas. Will you hire a weather scientist or an economist? The answer’s obvious, but the reasons are illuminating. The weather scientists will measure temperature patterns, air pressure patterns and how they’re spinning, ocean currents and how… Continue reading Economics vs Weather