Numbers | Economists | The Visible Economy, Richard Webb | Comment

Los Economists They boast that they have more scientific discipline than their colleagues in other social sciences, and the main argument: the massive use of mathematics in their work. Numbers force us to be more precise and make it easier to check our arguments. But, interestingly, the first major contribution to economics was “The Invisible Hand” – a much-quoted book by Adam Smith. According to Smith, the productivity and economic growth of a nation is the result of the individual and often selfish actions of individuals – almost incidentally. Although visibility is not an absolute requirement for establishing a science, it enables us to understand and evaluate the progress achieved.

Second father Economic Science Alfred Marshall, whose work placed great emphasis on value economic Invisibility creates an immeasurable “value” for the almost accidental buyer when the price of a purchase is less than the subjective value of that purchase. Marshall's point was accurate, but it complicated the calculation of the benefits that any commercial or political action might produce.

In the middle of the 20th century, the Economist Robert Solow published the results of a calculation that found the relative importance of investment and labor in generating the enormous growth enjoyed by the United States during most of the 20th century. The surprising result is that neither investment nor increased employment can explain these results. There must be a third machine – until then anonymous and baptized by Solo as “Remnant” – which explains much of the success. economy North American. The explanation that emerged was called “human capital,” referring to the enormous expansion of school and university education in the United States during those years, a plausible explanation, but with obvious limitations due to the enormous diversity of its content. .

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Of course, the slow progression of ideas economic Backed by impressive efforts in the field of statistics. Gross domestic product (GDP) and poverty statistics have become common tools for guiding policy in almost all countries. However, human complexity is a major obstacle to achieving what truly deserves the qualification of human “science.”

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