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by Rob Horning

26 Sep 2009

Will Wilkinson highlighted this paragraph about economism and behavioral economics from the FT’s Economists Forum blog:

Behavioural economists have uncovered much evidence that market participants do not act like conventional economists would predict “rational individuals” to act. But, instead of jettisoning the bogus standard of rationality underlying those predictions, behavioral economists have clung to it. They interpret their empirical findings to mean that many market participants are irrational, prone to emotion, or ignore economic fundamentals for other reasons. Once these individuals dominate the “rational” participants, they push asset prices away from their “true” fundamental values.

This helped me clarify in my own mind the muddle I’ve been in about the ideology of “perfect markets” and how that ideal is possibly used ideologically. The economists quoted, Roman Frydman and Michael Goldberg, seem to lay it out pretty clearly. At the behest of most economists, neoclassical or behavioral or otherwise, we’ve fallen into the habit of elevating what economists normatively deem rational to the only true form of rationality, while ignoring what human behavior seems to suggest should be called “rational”—that is, what ordinary people tend to do when confronted with various incentives or dilemmas.

And the motivating force behind all this is the effort to isolate “true” asset values—a quest that has had an ignominious journey through the history of political economy as Justin Fox’s The Myth of the Rational Market well documents. (For what it’s worth, I reviewed that book here.) “True” asset values underpin the financial sector, motivate its investment strategies and analysis. The pursuit of them keeps money circulating, which keeps economies growing (on paper, anyway).

Determining what constitutes value has vexed economists from the beginning of the discipline. Marx’s Capital is essentially a long meditation on the origin of “surplus value” as it arises out of exploited labor—a notion that depends on his definition of value as socially necessary labor time. The labor theory of value has been discarded by economists in favor of marginalism, which to remain coherent requires a human subject that exhibits the sort of “rationality” behavioral economists are undermining. 

The alternative (and I am not entirely sure it is prefereable) would seem to be to render “rational” those “other reasons” that people have for behaving—the decision-making approaches that are not driven by straightforward utility calculus. That means returning to a morality or an ethos that is not based on the market but on other norms of human interaction, ones that evolve not from impersonality (the market’s liberating feature) but from integrative social ties. The danger is that this would reinstitute tribalism and ethnocentirism as the source of norms—a return to feudalism or something worse instead of the development toward cosmopolitanism that arguably the globalization of market forces has ushered in.

by Tyler Gould

25 Sep 2009

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
Summer of Fear
(Saddle Creek)
Releasing: 20 October

His self-titled 2007 debut won hearts and minds with high-stakes, melodramatic folk-rock tunes like “Buriedfed”. The passion is still there in “The Sound”, from his autobiographical sophomore LP, Summer of Fear. He sings, “Why would I try to hate on anyone else? / It’s a hard enough time just trying to hate myself.”

SONG LIST
01 Shake a Shot
02 Always an Anchor
03 The Sound
04 Hard Row
05 Trap Door
06 The 100th of March
07 Summer of Fear pt 1
08 Death by Dust
09 Summer of Fear pt 2
10 Losing 4 Winners
11 More than a Mess
12 Boat

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
The Sound [MP3]
     

by Tyler Gould

25 Sep 2009

Various Artists
SCORE! 20 Years of Merge Records: THE REMIXES!
(Merge)
Releasing: 17 November

This, the latest addition to the Merge Records 20-year celebration (the covers album came out in April), doesn’t come out until November 17th, but the entire album is available to stream from the Merge website right now. The stream is only up for a limited time, but when it dries up you can check out a ton of Merge XX video over at Converse and Babelgum.

SONG LIST
01 Kalgon (Polvo) by Caribou
02 Mother of Pearl (Pram) by Barbara Morgenstern
03 Baby’s Way Cruel (Guv’ner) by Four Tet
04 Drill Me (I Was So There Remix) (Portastatic) by The Blow
05 The Ghost of You Lingers (Spoon) by John McEntire
06 No Cars Go (Arcade Fire) by Jason Forrest
07 Volcana! (I Hope Your Train Crashes Remix) (The 6ths) by Xiu Xiu
08 Bow to the Middle (The Rosebuds) by +/-
09 Irene (Caribou) by Hands Off Cuba
10 Washington, D.C. (The Magnetic Fields) by Mark Robinson
11 Nashville Parent (Lambchop) by Junior Boys

by Tyler Gould

25 Sep 2009

There was a time a few years ago when Sufjan Stevens, if he gerrymandered a district in such a way as to include music fans of a certain indie persuasion, could have made a successful run for Congress. Illinois had just come out, and the more starry-eyed among us were ecstatic at the prospect of 48 more state-themed albums.

Those salad days are now long behind us, with nary a song to show for it, aside from a few outtakes, Christmas songs, and a multimedia project. But don’t despair! Yon multi-talented music-maker is on tour right now, and he comes bearing good tidings and the gift of new song. “There’s Too Much Love” has his characteristic charm and a sojourn into unexplored territory that is, to say the least, enticing. Video below, remaining tour dates after the jump.

by Tyler Gould

25 Sep 2009

Phoenix is still getting great mileage out of “Lisztomania”, which they played on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

In Motion: On the Emptiness of Progress

// Moving Pixels

"Nils Pihl calls it, "Newtonian engagement", that is, when "an engaged player will remain engaged until acted upon by an outside force". That's "progress".

READ the article