Cuckoo catallactics

Def., catallectics: a theory of how prices and related factors are derived in competitive markets

Economics exemplifies what literary critic and poet, William Empson, called Jam Theory. All you need to know about economic behavior is under the lid of that wee jam jar of economic theory.

For those spreading its paste, there are never enough markets until observed reality matches the macro-principle of market competition. So what if actually existing markets are one of the most hybridized of social institutions? Not to worry, we make cuckoo clocks without the bird-shit, so too can we make functioning markets.

Has economics lost its place, you might ask, like the actor playing Hamlet who finishes the scene with Gertrude but forgot to kill Polonius? Or is this one more confirmation, in case we needed it, that economics differs little from other disciplines knee-deep in uncertainty? Far too many economist sell a political economy of individuals without the politics of groups.

Which then is more bloviating? The economist’s “the opportunities are attractive, if technological and regulatory challenges are overcome” or the engineer’s “the opportunities are attractive, if economic and regulatory challenges are overcome”? The scapegoating of regulation in both cases, of course, is essential to their hard sell.

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