Bourgeoisie Capitalism

Deidre McCloskey, the eminent economic historian whom some of you may know as Donald, before her illustrious transition in the 1990s, recently gave a talk to the Legatum Institute on her ideas of Bourgeoisie Capitalism.

When asked to summarise her thesis into a few words, she said “let people have a go”. She believes that economic growth doesn’t stem from institutions or capital accumulation – although these may be necessary – but the real reason arises from market power embetterment: if people believe that hard work can improve their situation then they will do so. This counters the Weber theory: that protestant virtue of savings and hard work allowed for a pool of investable money to expand the capital stock, along with a pool of hard workers and entrepreneurs which created unparalleled economic growth. [...]

Minimum Wages

Why have statutory minimum wages become more prominent in recent decades? Why have they generally had little adverse effect on employment?

Prior to the introduction of the national minimum wage (NMW) in 1999 there had been no statutory wage floors since the abolishment of the Wages Councils in 1993 by the Conservative government. Growing wage inequality in both the D50:D10 and D90:D50 measure (which looks at the differing wage rates in the respective percentiles) was one of the leading reasons in the demand for some form of minimum wage to counter this growing inequality. Metcalf finds that the NMW reduced the D50:D10 ratio by 9 points if we include the effects of immigration. [...]

Life at Cambridge Part II

This is a long overdue follow on from my previous post Life at Cambridge, and details my experience of the Cambridge Economics Tripos for 1st year Lent and Easter terms.
The Course

Lent

Microeconomics

This term we began by looking at Game Theory, where we cover the basics such as Nash Equilibrium, before moving on to more sophisticated games, looking at 3×3 matrices as well as 2×2. Simultaneous games are considered, along with Cournot and Bertrand games and models of business strategy and the notion of game theory is applied to matters such as externalities and public goods. There are also references to evaluation, such as how game theory isn’t the best model of real-life situations; for example in a finite game, theory tells us that if it pays to cheat in the last round (i.e. [...]

Efficiency

Economists have an affinity for the concept of efficiency, but often this is quite a vague concept. In this article we attempt to explain a few different types of efficiency/inefficiencies and show the different situations in which the word “efficiency” should be used.

Before we start it is important to remember why inefficiencies are bad and why a healthy economy should strive to be efficient. Lionel Robbins defined economics as the study of the allocation of scarce resources. Therefore an economist’s job is to ensure that these scarce resources are used to their best potential, therefore waste should be minimised and this can be achieved through efficient use of materials. [...]

Paul Mason’s Capitalism

Paul Mason today gave a ‘sermon’ (they even made us sing hymns!) on what he describes as Post-Capitalism. Without yet having read his book I wanted to address a few of his points based on his talk. Therefore some of my issues and criticisms may be cleared up at a later date. I find it ironic that he describes post-capitalism as being based on the shareholder economy which arises through voluntarism, yet the talk cost £20 per ticket and was followed by a book sign afterwards, which was also sold – but hey, we haven’t reached the post-capitalist state yet!

My first criticism with the whole idea (I think the same as Iain Martin’s) is that he seems to describe capitalism as an ideology, when in fact it is simply a system to distribute scarce resources. [...]

New Labour v.s. Old Labour

New Labour was forced by political circumstances to adopt neo-liberalism and the Conservative European, Foreign and Defence policies, and so abandoned traditional Labour party ideology. Discuss.

New Labour began government with a promise not to increase spending above Conservative plans for the first two years of their government along with no increases in basic or high income tax. The government was strongly pro-Europe and wanted Britain to play an active role in the policy making decisions of the EU along with a future promise to join the monetary union. Foreign policy took on an ethical role with the government promoting human rights and intervening to stop abuses. [...]

Was there an agricultural revolution?

‘Agriculture played a fundamental role in British industrialisation.’

  • Explain the main ways in which agriculture can theoretically influence industrialisation. Word Count = 498

Agriculture can influence industrialisation through the generation or release of capital, the release of labour, acting as a market for industrial goods or through increased output.

Perhaps the most fundamental way that agriculture affects industrialisation is by providing output (foodstuffs and raw materials) which sustain an industrial urban population. If the urban population is growing quickly then the agricultural industry would need to increase output to feed these workers, this could work by the price of foodstuffs rising which would encourage more investment in farms and a strive to increase productivity. [...]