Thursday, 29 November 2012

Why doesn't the world have more child prodigies?

From time to time, the internet is capable of highlighting extraordinary young talents.Two of the recent stories are those of Deepika Kurup, from the USA who invented a water purificator based on solar energy, and Kevin Doe, who has built a radio - from junk, in Sierra Leone. Why both kids are extraordinarily talented, the large differences between their achievements raise some important economic questions. Why didn't the inventions happen vice versa? What limits child talent's emergence and potential? And most importantly, are there economic strategies which may contribute to the emergence of such prodigies?

Mozart, one of the world's most famous child prodigies
has been afflicted by poverty himself in his later life.
Source: Wikimedia

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Resource Course - Can a economy be sick?

Most readers would be ready to assume that if a once-poor nation suddenly stumbles on a handful of natural resources, then it's economic (and perhaps, political) progress would suddenly skyrocket, and it's citizens would be much better off than before... Unfortunately, such assumptions are not alway true. The poetically named Resource Curse, a.k.a. the Paradox of Plenty, and it's subset, the Dutch Disease serve with alarming examples about how a natural resource boom might actually strangle economic progress and cause political instability. Today's post, primarily based on Michael L. Ross's paper from UCLA, presents the competing explanations.

All in all, I wish we had discovered water. - Sheik Ahmed Yamani, Oil minister, Saudi Arabia

Source: Guardian Images

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Economist of the Week - William Ashley

Economics is the social science "written in the language of mathematics" (to paraphrase Galilei). In such a discipline, it is  fundamental that economic theories and explanations of phenomena should be testable - yet the world economy with it's dynamic, ever-changing pattern rarely offers us controlled experiments. It is hence quintessential that economic phenomena of the past are deeply explored and explained. This is the task of economic historians, and William Ashley was one of the first of them.

Source: Wikimedia

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Do we need to fear the fiscal cliff? II.

As promised in our post yesterday, today we will examine the arguments in favour of and against going over the fiscal cliff. In order to do so, we will construct them around the four questions already mentioned: does the cessation of tax cuts brings down debt? Does it hurt the economy? Do debts hurt the economy? And which one of the two is more important?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Do we need to fear the fiscal cliff? I.

While Barack Obama has won the 2012 presidential election on November 7th, allowing him to remain president for a second term, he may not cheer for long. The "fiscal cliff", as named by the FED president Ben Bernarke is inevitably approaching, dividing Democrats and Republicans alike - but what exactly is the fiscal cliff? And should it be feared? This short essay will aim to provide answers to these questions, split in two parts; today's post will examine the status quo, while tomorrow we will examine the predicted effects of possible scenarios.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Economist of The Week - Alfred Marshall

In the latter half of the 19th century, a drastic shift of paradigms began to emerge in economic thought. Dubbed the Neoclassical, or Marginal Revolution, a new generation of economists began to embrace the theory of marginal utility and simultaneously, a more mathemathical approach towards mathematics. This week's economist is the "champion" of this new movement, and one of the most influential economists ever, whose ideas are still in everyday use - Alfred Marshall.

Source: Wikimedia

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Behavioural economics: A Short Introduction

Why would a psychologist win the Nobel Prize in Economics? The answer to this question is possibly the most visible sign of an emerging trend in contemporary economics research. Behavioural economics aims to study the emotional, social, psychological factors in economic decision-making, challenging the largely dominant paradigm that every economic decision is made rationally. But how did that paradigm appear? What are the goals of behavioural economics today? This post aims to provide answers to these questions.

Update: Certain elements of our description of the German Historical School were incorrect and have been rewritten. We'd like to apologise for the inconvenience.


Monday, 12 November 2012


We'd like to apologise to our readers for the unexpected hiatus - don't worry, Schoolonomic is now back online starting tomorrow, with an updated posting schedule. Instead of the previous, daily posts (often of volatile quality), the new schedule will present four articles a week. These will come on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with the Economist of the Week series delayed from the previous Wednesdays to Thursdays. Through these changes, I hope to create content which is both more structured and more interesting to readers; current plans include posts more related to contemporary issues and to the mathematical underpinnings of economics.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Economist of The Week - Vilfredo Pareto

In present day economics, the name Pareto sound familiar to many - this Italian economist is chiefly known for the Pareto efficiency, named after him. Yet the field of economics owes much more to this Italian economist; he was one of the first to use the tools of mathematics, statistics and the scientific method in a discipline theresofar dominated (except for the German School) by the Adam Smith heritage of inductive, theoretical approach.

Source: Wikimedia

Monday, 5 November 2012

How can money serve as a replicator?

As promised in our post yesterday, we will lay out the elemental principles of how money (or precisely, capital) can act as a form of replicator, dubbed "mon" by the Hungarian mathematician László Mérő. Firstly, we'll prove how "mons" are different from "memes"; simultaneously that they indeed exist; and finally, how their presence changes the way scientists may observe the field of economics, by applying the methods of genetic biology and memetics to it.
(Warning: If you're scared away by proofs for scientific phenomena, scroll down to the last paragraph. You'd loose out on the essence of the post, though. Don't worry - it's not as tough as it seems.)

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Memes, 'temes' and other replicators

It is and established fact that the basic principles of biological inheritance are embedded inside our genes, determining the biological properties of every being's descendants. And ever since Richard Dawkins's 1976 book The Selfish Gene, scientists have been exploring the possibility that it is not the beings, but rather the genes themselves which replicate. This not only revolutionarized genetics - but has also started a new line of research which, by today has become relatively accepted on its own: memetics, the research of thought patterns acting as replicators.
Even some internet memes may qualify as scientific replicators.
Even some internet memes may qualify as scientific replicators.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Did the Romans really invent "flexible" glass?

A relatively unknown, yet intriguing myth about Ancient Rome tells us about the Roman emperor Tiberius executing a glassmaker for allegedly inventing something called 'vitrum flexile' - flexible glass, which didn't break and could be bended by hand. But why did he do so? And could it actually happen? In our answer, we will provide a short guide into the theory of disruptive innovation.