Is the Penn World Table Credible?

Originally published at joefrancis.info Joe Francis Last year the eighth edition of the Penn World Table (PWT) was released to considerable fanfare – indeed, one commentator described it as ‘a special day for all researchers and practitioners of economics‘. Yet its series for Argentina raises more questions than it answers. PWT 8.0’s major innovation was […]

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Argentina: Decline or Urbanisation?

Originally published at joefrancis.info Joe Francis Recently the Economist published a front-page feature on ‘The Tragedy of Argentina: A Century of Decline‘. By summarising the current scholarship on the ‘Argentine paradox’, the article demonstrates why the study of the country’s history remains so necessary. The article begins with the standard claim that Argentina was rich at the beginning […]

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2020/05: Fix, ‘Can the World Get Along Without Natural Resources?’

Abstract Neoclassical economists fundamentally misunderstand the role of natural resources in the economy. I discuss here the source of this misunderstanding, and the ways we can better understand the role of energy to human societies. Citation Can the World Get Along Without Natural Resources? Fix, Blair. (2020). Working Papers on Capital as Power. No. 2020/05. […]

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Agent-Based Models and the Ghost in the Machine

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down Blair Fix In the opening post of this blog, I described my ‘top-down’ approach to studying society. This means studying groups of people without trying to reduce everything to the actions of individuals. It’s not that I think individual actions are unimportant. Of course they are important. […]

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Fix, Nitzan & Bichler, ‘Real GDP: The Flawed Metric at the Heart of Macroeconomics’

Abstract The study of economic growth is central to macroeconomics. More than anything else, macroeconomists are concerned with finding policies that encourage growth. And by ‘growth’, they mean the growth of real GDP. This measure has become so central to macroeconomics that few economists question its validity. Our intention here is to do just that. […]

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Fix, ‘Dematerialization Through Services: Evaluating the Evidence’

Abstract Dematerialization through services is a popular proposal for reducing environmental impact. The idea is that by shifting from the production of goods to the provision of services, a society can reduce its material demands. But do societies with a larger service sector actually dematerialize? I test the ‘dematerialization through services’ hypothesis with a focus […]

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Fix, ‘The Aggregation Problem: Implications for Ecological and Biophysical Economics’

Abstract This paper discusses the dimension problem in economic aggregation, as it relates to ecological and biophysical economics. The dimension problem consists of a simple dilemma: when we aggregate, the observer must choose the dimension of analysis. The dilemma is that this choice affects the resulting measurement. This means that aggregate measurements are dependent on […]

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2018/03: Fix, ‘The Aggregation Problem’

Abstract This article discusses the aggregation problem and its implications for ecological economics. The aggregation problem consists of a simple dilemma: when adding heterogeneous phenomena together, the observer must choose the unit of analysis. The dilemma is that this choice affects the resulting measurement. This means that aggregate measurements are dependent on one’s goals, and […]

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Woodley, ‘Globalization and Capitalist Geopolitics: Sovereignty and State Power in a Multipolar World’

Abstract Globalization and Capitalist Geopolitics is concerned with the growth of transnational corporate power against the backdrop of the decline of the West and the struggle by non-Western states to challenge and overcome domination of the rest of the world by the West. At the centre of the study is the problematic status of the […]

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Di Muzio, ‘The Tragedy of Human Development: A Genealogy of Capital as Power’

Abstract How might an objective observer conceive of what humans have accomplished as a species over its brief history? Benjamin argues that history can be judged as one giant catastrophe. Liberals suggest that this is to sombre an assessment and that human history can be read as a story of greater and greater progress in […]

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Howard, ‘Craftwashing in the U.S. Beer Industry’

Abstract Background: Big brewers, which have experienced declining sales for their beer brands in the last decade, have been accused of “craftwashing” by some craft brewers and their aficionados—they define craftwashing as big brewers (>6 million barrels per year) taking advantage of the increasing sales of craft beer by emulating these products or by acquiring […]

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Third Speaker Series on the Capitalist Mode of Power

ABSTRACT Existing theories of capitalism, mainstream as well as heterodox, view capitalism as a mode of production and consumption. The purpose of this ongoing speaker series is to interrogate capitalism as a mode of power. The presentations offer a power theory of personal income distribution (Blair Fix, 2:30-5:30pm, October 17, 2017), explore the power to […]

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Holman & McMahon, ‘From Power over Creation to the Power of Creation: Cornelius Castoriadis on Democratic Cultural Creation and the Case of Hollywood’

Abstract This article is a critical investigation and application of the aesthetic theory of Cornelius Castoriadis, one of the most important 20th-century theorists of radical democracy. We outline Castoriadis’s thoughts on autonomy, the social-historical nature of Being, and creation — key elements that inform his model of democratic culture. We then develop a Castoriadian critique […]

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'Is the Power of Mass Culture Profitable?', Public Lecture by James McMahon

This presentation will examine how and why political economic theories of mass culture have accumulated, but not settled, methodological issues about the meaning of value and the nature of productivity. Labour is certainly an important factor to any comprehensive study of capitalist mass culture, but it is our assumptions about economic productivity and not the […]

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Park, ‘Korea’s Post-1997 Restructuring: An Analysis of Capital as Power’

Abstract Winner of the RRPE Annual Best Paper Award for 2016 This paper aims to transcend current debates on Korea’s post-1997 restructuring, which rely on a dichotomy between domestic industrial capital and foreign financial capital, by adopting Nitzan and Bichler’s capital-as-power perspective. Based on this approach, the paper analyzes Korea’s recent political economic restructuring as […]

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'From Colonialism to Climate Change: The Power to Externalize', Public Lecture by D.T. Cochrane

The history of capitalism is a history of externalization. While benefits were tallied, costs were routinely excluded from accounts. In this presentation I examine the history of externalization as a power process. A history of brutality and destruction marketed as innovation and efficiency, externalization has been the shadowy counterpart to accumulation. From colonialism to climate […]

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