In our opinion: Why the University of Utah's new economics institute is a win for the state

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  • mattsamkat Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2017 2:15 p.m.

    Seventeen comments include a lot of economic knowledge bicep flexing with ONLY one disparaging the acceptance of funds from the Koch brothers. The ideology of David and Charles Koch should make every American shudder. Their massive polluting, union destruction, buying and selling elections, and efforts to racially segregate our nation makes their money tainted. Shame on any institution of higher learning that accepts their money and condones their evil agenda!

  • Shane S Rexburg, ID
    July 21, 2017 1:09 p.m.

    addendum: my phrase surplus capital should read surplus value.

  • The Real Maverick Spanish Fork, UT
    July 21, 2017 11:39 a.m.

    I love it when conservatives who have never set foot on a college campus tell us graduates what our schools teach us. Hilarious!

  • a bit of reality Shawnee Mission, KS
    July 21, 2017 10:44 a.m.

    2 bits:

    The U never indoctrinated anybody with Marxism, much less taught it exclusively or crammed it down anybody's throat. If there was any truth to that the program wouldn't even be accredited. I majored in Econ at graduated from the U in 93. I took one optional course in Marxism, and that is the only place where I even heard the name Marx mentioned. Even in that one class the professor wasn't dogmatically saying that Marx was right--the focus was on understanding what Marx's arguments actually were.

    The real truth is that by even acknowledging that Marx had some ideas that were worthy of being understood and providing students with the opportunity of exploring them if they wanted to include that in their education, the U. has offered a balance that lacks in most other colleges.

    You said, "Capitalism has brought more people out of poverty than any system," as if that somehow contradicts Marx. Marx agrees with that point and was a huge proponent of capitalism. That's what Das Kapital is about! Of course he also studies why the "invisible hand" really doesn't prevent workers from being exploited, but he argued that a fair society had to first go through a phase of capitalism.

  • Shane S Rexburg, ID
    July 21, 2017 9:05 a.m.

    Any good economics program should include a balanced reading of economic philosophy before training in econometrics. For me the reading of Marx and others made me appreciate the problems Marx tried to solve, but not his solution. Mussolini stated, “Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal, will of man as a historic entity.” That hardly sounds like the libertarian Charles Koch. In fact Mussolini’s definition of Fascism sound’s a lot like Marx’s crude communism with the state acting as the supreme equalizer. (see Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscript 1844) Thus politically (not economically) Marxism is identical to Fascism. It is also interesting that with all the lists of great economists the Austrians are conspicuously absent. By dropping capital as a factor of production and including time in its place, Austrian economics solve the capitalistic dilemma begun by Smith and exacerbated by Marx in the form of surplus capital.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 21, 2017 9:02 a.m.

    Marxist,
    I know we get on you now and then. It's mostly to show there are other working philosophies besides Marx's. And expose flaws we have observed in world history when tried (with tragic results).

    Great theory. Bad reality so far in human practice.

    In theory Marxism protects the proletariat. But Capitalism has brought more people out of poverty than any system. Marxism has not been a bed of roses for working class people when put into practice in Venezuela, Cuba, USSR, East Germany, etc.

    ===

    Re: "Marx is the third and best of the 3 great classical economists: Smith, Ricardo, and Marx"...
    ---
    That's your opinion. The opinion of a hard core Marxist. But that's not the list I got when I googled "10 greatest economists"...

    The list was:
    1. Adam Smith
    2. David Ricardo
    3. Fukuzawa Yukichi
    4. Karl Marx
    5. Amartya Sen
    6. John Keynes
    7. Milton Friedman
    8. Joseph Shumpeter
    9. Daniel Kahneman
    10. Hyman Minsky

    I'm glad to see you didn't throw Adam Smith (an advocate of free trade, market competition and the morality of private enterprise) out of your list. He's #1 on every list I've seen.

    IMO We should study Marxism. But not adopt it.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    July 21, 2017 8:57 a.m.

    @2bits " Every student should study the theories of Carl Marx. I did. In Jr High Economics. But I don't think it needs to be taught exclusively, indoctrinated into kids brains, or crammed down their throats like at the U. "

    I don't think you likely got much out of Jr High economics. It's K(not C) arl Marx. Sorry, I know it was just a typo, but I couldn't resist.

    Marx has never been crammed down student brains at the "U." Like I said before the economics dept emphasized the reading of ORIGINAL (not text book) economic literature. In that department I read the original works of many economists, especially Smith, Ricardo, and Marx. BTW, I also received a pretty healthy dose of Milton Friedman.

    Marx's masterpiece is "Capital." It is of enormous importance. But most people, even if otherwise well educated, know nothing of it. Joan Robinson was right. Without Marx economics is stalled. Without Marx even the esteemed Piketty can't breath life back into it.

    And for the record at the "U" economics dept I studied econometrics in great depth. I doubt the new curriculum is any better.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 21, 2017 8:26 a.m.

    Re: "some philosophical balance to the university’s educational offerings and scholarship on economics"...
    ---
    Finally... we won't have to subject our kids to indoctrination by Marxists and Socialists if we send them to learn economics at the UofU. This is a great change IMO. The U has been famous for generations for teaching Marxist dogma. It was well known when I went the back in the early 1980s.

    IMO Every student should study the theories of Carl Marx. I did. In Jr High Economics. But I don't think it needs to be taught exclusively, indoctrinated into kids brains, or crammed down their throats like at the U. Just presented as one of many economic theories.

    They should also focus on the calculus and the logic that influences economies more than the Social and political (which was overly emphasized at the U in the past).

    This should be a good thing for the UofU economics dpt.

    Not only the money... but also the balance it may bring.

  • MrBerry Bozeman, MT
    July 20, 2017 5:00 p.m.

    Well. I'm not sure the author could have gotten his description of UofU Economics more wrong.

    I went to graduate school at the Dept of Economics at Utah. I got my masters degree at University of Chicago (usually thought of as a conservative institution). I have done M&A, private equity, and spent a lot of time with investment bankers.

    Yes, I learned about Marx at Utah. I also learned about Polyani, and Keynes, and Ricardo, and Smith, and Schumpeter, and Mill, and Marshall, and Walras.

    I took a class from a Marxist - and a neocon, and a post-Keynesian, and non-denominational profs. I was nearly overcome by the mainstream micro course math. I took econometrics, learned about health economics, and learned about the history of economic thought.

    In short, I STUDIED ECONOMICS. I wasn't programmed to believe one particular school of thought - I was presented with the full scope of human thought on economics, and I was encouraged to make my own conclusions.

    Utah economics is one of the last places in the world where you can get a true education in economics, rather than a blindered view of the world.

    This article couldn't be more inaccurate.

  • a bit of reality Shawnee Mission, KS
    July 20, 2017 3:04 p.m.

    @strom thurmon

    I read the Samuel Moore translation of Das Kapital, since you asked. Translating books is a scholarly thing, not just a religious one.

    The new program will teach students how they can use the Black-Scholes formula to price derivatives and make obscene profits for the traders. I'm sure it will also talk about the systematic risk to entire economy that such leveraged trading can cause. But it probably won't address the more fundamental question about *why* derivative traders deserve to make obscene amounts of money when they aren't actually producing useful goods or services.

    I'm sure this change will enhance the prestige of the University. But changing the focus to number crunching isn't going to provide "philosophical balance."

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    July 20, 2017 12:16 p.m.

    "The institute plans to hire seven new faculty members. This should bolster the business school’s scholarly stature and support its ability to offer a new degree in Quantitative Analysis of Markets & Organizations — essentially an economics degree with a focus on data analysis and practical business application."

    I don't doubt this will help some students in their careers. Where this curriculum will fit in the job market can be grasped by watching any version of Ferguson's "The Ascent of Money."

    On the down side this will probably lead to yet more alchemy in the form of exotic financial derivatives which Buffett called "weapons of mass destruction," as in the 2008 collapse, which the "quants" with all their sophistication couldn't see coming. But for the record, I could.

  • The Real Maverick Spanish Fork, UT
    July 20, 2017 11:53 a.m.

    The Kochs already bought Utah state. Time to buy off another Utah university.

    Sad

    The Kochs are some of the worst people on the planet. Letting anti-American fascists exert influence over our educational institutions is going to be a big big big mistake.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    July 20, 2017 11:27 a.m.

    @Strom Thurmond "Hopefully future students will be spared the mandatory sojourn into Marxist madness."

    In addition to Marx that department allowed me to read ORIGINAL economic literature of all types - Smith, Ricardo, Keynes, Quesney, Malthus, Friedman, Senior, Robinson, Marx etc.

    Strom, Have you ever read any Marx?

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    July 20, 2017 11:20 a.m.

    a bit...

    "Those skills are valuable, but are also dry math and don't offer a "pluralistic perspective" on anything. Also, they are the direct cause of the 2008 financial crisis. I hope we don't lose our bearings by chasing those dollars."

    Interesting. I recall siting in class that semester (the first few months of the Obama admin) and being told by one of the prominent marxists in the Econ. Department that, as a result of the stimulus package, unemployment would not rise above 8%.

    Yes, friends, I paid for that course, and it was mandatory.

    So much for Keynes.

    Did you ever read the professor's own translation of Capital?

    Yes, he translated it himself, like a religious monk.

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    July 20, 2017 11:14 a.m.

    "David Eccles School of Business will provide some philosophical balance to the university’s educational offerings and scholarship on economics"

    This is long overdue

    Anyone familiar with the economics department at the U knows it is an extremely left-leaning institution. Professors during the red scare McCarthy era came to the U to essentially hide. Their students now run the place.

    One well known faculty member even named his child after a radical left wing domestic terrorist. The place is nuts.

    "The school of economics is not part of the DE School of Business", we were expressly told during graduate school orientation.

    Hopefully future students will be spared the mandatory sojourn into Marxist madness.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    July 20, 2017 10:02 a.m.

    People here are often confused by my "handle" marxist. Often it is assumed I am an uncritical defender of systems which have been pleased to call themselves "Marxist."

    Such is not the case. I identify with Marx the man because of his enormous potential and actual influence in economics. Most so-called mainstream economics is static, that is the analysis if performed "per unit time." Marx's economics is by contrast dynamic, operating through time. Rightly the late great Keynesian Joan Robinson said if economics has a future it will be via the dynamic analysis roughed out by Marx.

    BTW, much of Marxian analysis made it into Keynesian economics via Piero Sfraffa and Joan Robinson.

    Marx explained for all time why in capitalist economies, even with all the innovations capitalism creates, things don't get better for labor. The reason is most profit comes from surplus value, the increment of value added by living hired labor for which it is not compensated.

    Marx is the third and best of the 3 great classical economists: Smith, Ricardo, and Marx. Marx completes the first two.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    July 20, 2017 8:11 a.m.

    "David Eccles School of Business will provide some philosophical balance to the university’s educational offerings and scholarship on economics"

    No bias there.

    So now the fresh scrubbed faced students can actually learn the theory and academic justifications for tax cuts for the rich and how it has enriched us all since the 1980's.

    The timing here is impeccable. There is a new plethora of studies and books coming out showing the failure of neo liberal economics, and how the mantra of competition is a farce.

    You can draw all the charts you want and theoretical formulas but when wealth accumulates in a few hands you might as well wall paper your den with them, because they are worthless.

  • a bit of reality Shawnee Mission, KS
    July 20, 2017 8:05 a.m.

    As a graduate of the U's Economics department who now does quantitative analysis professionally, this is great news. But it's misleading to imply that in the past we weren't even "exposed" to an "academically vibrant suite of economic ideas" or to "pluralistic perspectives." The truth is exactly the opposite--we learned the same things taught in Econ courses everywhere, with a bit of Marxism thrown in if you chose that elective. It was a fine liberal education.

    The failings of states that attempted Marxism in no way invalidates Marx's analysis of capitalism. The freshest and most academically vibrant voice in the world of Economics right now is Thomas Piketty and his book, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century." It explains what we see in the world now better than anything else and has a distinct Marxist feel to it.

    The new program at the U will focus on predictive analytics and arbitrage-free pricing of derivatives (e.g. the Black-Scholes formula). Those skills are valuable, but are also dry math and don't offer a "pluralistic perspective" on anything. Also, they are the direct cause of the 2008 financial crisis. I hope we don't lose our bearings by chasing those dollars.