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Monday, February 04, 2013

True, Aggregates Can Conceal...

as many Austrians are fond of noting. A focus on global average temperature may conceal the cold winter in Scotland, say.

But they can also reveal: For someone who refuses to think in terms of global temperature, global warming is inconceivable. Similarly, for someone who refuses to think in terms of aggregate demand, an aggregate demand shortfall is inconceivable.

2 comments:

  1. And for someone who refuses to think in terms of total nails driven into wood, an "aggregate nail drivage" shortfall is inconceivable.

    To make my point less cheekily: if you view the aggregate as diverging from the thing you actually want to maximize (i.e. it loses its heuristic value), and does so in a *knowable way*, then I would say it's not that a "shortfall" of this "to be propped up" thing is inconceivable, but rather, that to (continue to) focus on it is to lose sight of the telos of political economy.

    In *general*, if you're on a construction project, a measure of total driven nails will be informative about the health of the project, and the driving of nails will have *causal power* on the state of the project.

    But if it turns out people are uselessly filling up planks with nails and throwing them away ... or if the building is actually a torture chamber to be used on the people building it ... well, you really need to change your focus.

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    Replies
    1. Those are all excellent points, Silas. We must be cautious in using aggregates, and not treat them as more than they are!

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