Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Volume 18, Issue 2, September 2021

In this issue (.pdf):

Critical condition: Robert Kaestner examines two articles in the Quarterly Journal of Economics on the effects of health insurance on mortality, saying that both lack statistical power and raising issues of external validity and anomalous results. Jacob Goldin, Ithai Lurie, and Janet McCubbin reply to the criticisms of their QJE article, and Sarah Miller and Laura R. Wherry reply to the criticisms of theirs.

Nonconvergence on machine learning and corporate fraud detection: In the previous issue, Stephen Walker investigated findings for the effectiveness of machine learning in detecting accounting fraud, and Yang Bao, Bin Ke, Bin Li, Y. Julia Yu, and Jie Zhang replied to Walker. Here, Walker explains why he finds the reply unsatisfying.

Classical liberalism in Finland in the nineteenth century: Jens Grandell tells of the blooming of liberalism in nineteenth-century Finland, highlighting the issue of language (Finnish versus Swedish) and the related issue of nationhood for Finland, then within the Russian empire. The article extends the Classical Liberalism in Econ, by Country series to 21 articles.

The General Directing of Trade Cannot Be a Science: Benoît Malbranque presents an essay by René Louis de Voyer de Paulmy, Marquis d’Argenson (1694–1757), arguing against the general directing of economic affairs and against what Friedrich Hayek would one day call the fatal conceit. First appearing in 1751 and in English in 1754 and 1762, d’Argenson’s article was a commentary on another article extolling work by Girolamo Belloni. The anonymous author of that article subsequently replied to d’Argenson. Rendered here into English by Malbranque is that reply, in which the anonymous Bellonian argues that government influence over the economy is inevitable and is improved by science.

Hume’s Manuscript Account of the Extraordinary Affair Between Him and Rousseau: Published here is David Hume’s original manuscript account of his tangle with Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Hume was quite dissatisfied with the rushed version of the account, published in London in 1766, which, apart from the letters therein, was a retranslation of a French translation of Hume’s manuscript. Hume “expresses himself bluntly and forcibly,” as one scholar said about this never-before-published manuscript.

To Tolerant England and a Pension from the King: Daniel Klein proffers an explanation for the remarkable lengths to which Hume went to settle Rousseau in England with a pension from King George III, namely, that Hume felt that doing so would diminish Rousseau’s influence and legacy, and consequently improve the lot of humankind.

EJW Audio:

Jens Grandell on Liberalism in Finland in the Nineteenth Century

Austin Sandler on Quality Control in Anthropometry

Call for papers:

Commentaries on Smith/Hume scholarship

Who should get the Nobel Prize in economics, and why?

EJW invites ‘journal watch’ submissions beyond Econ.

EJW fosters open exchange. We welcome proposals and submissions of diverse viewpoints.

Read the September 2021 issue in full (.pdf)

Table of contents (.pdf) with links to articles