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G. M.P. Swann

When sociology students know more about financial crises than economics students, something is wrong – and not with sociology. Joe Earle, Cahal Moran and Zach Ward-Perkins

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G. M.P. Swann

The premise behind this chapter is that economics needs knowledge of economic anatomy in the way that medicine needs knowledge of human anatomy. The latter is perhaps the most basic science underpinning the study of medicine and involves very detailed observation and description of the body. Economic anatomy should also involve very detailed observation and description of different components of the economy.

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G. M.P. Swann

Physicians focus on human ailments; apparently the healthy human body has limited interest for them. When a patient sees a doctor, the doctor's question, voiced or implicit, is “What's your problem?” Economists, on the other hand, generally assume a healthy economy … Their postulate is that the market is always right. In effect, they assume an economy with a temperature reading of 98.6 degrees, and no broken bones. Don Paarlberg

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G. M.P. Swann

This will be a very short chapter. Indeed, some readers may ask whether this chapter is necessary at all. For economic physiology is about economic function, and surely, we already have a huge knowledge of this topic, both theoretical and empirical? That is certainly true, but in my view, one essential thing is missing.

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Economics as Anatomy

Radical Innovation in Empirical Economics

G. M.P. Swann

For most of his career, Peter Swann’s main research interest has been the economics of innovation. But he has also been preoccupied with a second question: what is the best way to study empirical economics? In this book, he uses his knowledge of the first question to answer the second. There are two fundamentally different approaches to innovation: incremental innovation and radical innovation – ‘radical’ in the sense that we go back to the ‘roots’ of empirical economics and take a different tack. An essential lesson from the economics of innovation is that we need both incremental and radical innovation for the maximum beneficial effect on the economy. Swann argues that the same is true for economics as a discipline. This book is a much-awaited sequel to Putting Econometrics in its Place which explored what other methods should be used, and why. This book is about the best way of organising the economics discipline, to ensure that it pursues this wide variety of methods to maximum effect.
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G. M.P. Swann

Hereafter, this book has two main objectives. The first is to use some of the key ideas from the economics of innovation to suggest an outline strategy for those innovations required to improve our knowledge of empirical economics. The second is to turn that outline strategy into some specific proposals that will address the issues and problems discussed in Part I. In this, Part II of the book, I am concerned with the first objective, while Part III is concerned with the second

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G. M.P. Swann

Econometrics was the most adventurous and successful innovation introduced into economics during the course of the last century. Franciso Louçã

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G. M.P. Swann

When it first appeared in the 1930s, econometrics was definitely a radical innovation. It arrived into an economics discipline which had two main strands: a theoretical tradition that was, with some exceptions, literary rather than mathematical; and an empirical tradition that was descriptive, and not based on indirect statistical inference. In place of that, the Econometric Society proposed a new approach to the science of economics, based on the ‘triad’ of economic theory, mathematics and statistics

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G. M.P. Swann

The composition of this book has been for the author a long struggle of escape, and so must the reading of it be for most readers if the author’s assault upon them is to be successful, — a struggle of escape from habitual modes of thought and expression. The ideas which are here expressed so laboriously are extremely simple and should be obvious. The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds. John Maynard Keynes

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G. M.P. Swann

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the state of science, whatever the matter may be. William Thompson, Lord Kelvin