Energizing Exchange: Learning from Econophysics’ Mistakes

Originally published at Economics from the Top Down Blair Fix Let’s talk econophysics. If you’re not familiar, ‘econophysics’ is an attempt to understand economic phenomena (like the distribution of income) using the tools of statistical mechanics. The field has been around for a few decades, but has received little attention from mainstream economists. I think […]

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Radically Progressive Degrowth: Reducing Resource Use by Eliminating Inequality

Originally published at Economics from the Top Down Blair Fix Pity the billionaires. High in the towers on Billionaires’ Row, life is hard. The pencil-thin buildings groan as they sway in the wind, keeping penthouse dwellers up at night. Water pipes break, ruining posh décor. And elevators are unreliable, interrupting billionaires’ highly productive lives. So […]

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Fix, ‘Redistributing Income Through Hierarchy’

Abstract Although the determinants of income are complex, the results are surprisingly uniform. To a first approximation, top incomes follow a power-law distribution, and the redistribution of income corresponds to a change in the power-law exponent. Given the messiness of the struggle for resources, why is the outcome so simple? This paper explores the idea […]

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The ideology of economics

Originally published at pluralistic.net Cory Doctorow Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century” advanced a simple, data-supported hypothesis: that markets left to their own will cause capital to grow faster than the economy as a whole, so over time, the rich always get richer. https://boingboing.net/2014/06/24/thomas-pikettys-capital-in-t.html He’s followed up Capital with the 1000-page “Capital and Ideology” […]

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2021/04: Fix, ‘Redistributing Income Through Hierarchy’

Abstract Although the determinants of income are complex, the results are surprisingly uniform. To a first approximation, top incomes follow a power-law distribution, and the redistribution of income corresponds to a change in the power-law exponent. Given the messiness of the struggle for resources, why is the outcome so simple? This paper explores the idea […]

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2021/02: Fix, ‘Living the good life in a non-growth world: Investigating the role of hierarchy’

Abstract Humanity’s most pressing need is to learn how to live within our planet’s boundaries — something that likely means doing without economic growth. How, then, can we create a non-growth society that is both just and equitable? I attempt to address this question by looking at an aspect of sustainability (and equity) that is […]

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2020/06: Bichler & Nitzan, ‘The Limits of Capitalized Power. A 2020 U.S. Update’

Abstract Until the late 2000s, our work focused primarily on why capitalism should be understood as a mode of power. We argued that capital itself is a form of organized power and researched how capitalists sustain, defend and augment their capitalized power. We called our approach ‘capital as power’ – or CasP, for short. But […]

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Fix, ‘How the Rich Are Different: Hierarchical Power as the Basis of Income Size and Class’

Abstract This paper investigates a new approach to understanding personal and functional income distribution. I propose that hierarchical power — the command of subordinates in a hierarchy — is what distinguishes the rich from the poor and capitalists from workers. Specifically, I hypothesize that individual income increases with hierarchical power, as does the share of […]

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An Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution (Part 1)

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down Blair Fix The biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky famously wrote that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. I propose a corollary in economics: nothing in economics makes sense except in the light of human social evolution. [1] I explore here how the evolution of […]

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Fix, ‘An Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution’

Abstract This paper explores how the evolution of human sociality can help us understand how we distribute resources. Using ideas from sociobiology, I argue that resource distribution is marked by a tension between two levels of natural selection. At the group level, selfless behavior is advantageous. But at the individual level, selfish behavior is advantageous. […]

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Fix, ‘Personal Income and Hierarchical Power’

Abstract This article examines the relation between personal income and hierarchical power. In the context of a firm hierarchy, I define hierarchical power as the number of subordinates under an individual’s control. Using the available case-study evidence, I find that relative income within firms scales strongly with hierarchical power. I also find that hierarchical power […]

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2018/09: Fix, ‘Energy, Hierarchy and the Origin of Inequality’

Abstract Where should we look to understand the origin of inequality? Most research focuses on three windows of evidence: (1) the archaeological record; (2) existing traditional societies; and (3) the historical record. I propose a fourth window of evidence — modern society itself. I hypothesize that we can infer the origin of inequality from the […]

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Fix, ‘Economics from the Top Down: Does Hierarchy Unify Economic Theory?’

Abstract What is the unit of analysis in economics? The prevailing orthodoxy in mainstream economic theory is that the individual is the ‘ultimate’ unit of analysis. The implicit goal of mainstream economics is to root macro-level social structure in the micro-level actions of individuals. But there is a simple problem with this approach: our knowledge […]

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Fix, ‘Economics from the Top Down: Does Hierarchy Unify Economic Theory?’

Abstract What is the unit of analysis in economics? The prevailing orthodoxy in mainstream economic theory is that the individual is the ‘ultimate’ unit of analysis. The implicit goal of mainstream economics is to root macro-level social structure in the micro-level actions of individuals. But there is a simple problem with this approach: our knowledge […]

Continue Reading