Monday, November 14, 2011

The Economists of 'Occupy Wall Street'

It is now pretty much agreed that 'Occupy Wall Street' was launched by the anti-consumer products organization known as Adbusters. NPR reports:
The protests go by a variety of names: "Occupy Wall Street," "American Autumn," "The 99 Percent." And the lack of a unified message is matched by a lack of centralized control. But the protests share a common spark: a disillusioned Canadian adman. 
The Occupy protests seemed to come out of nowhere. But the early participants, like John Garcia in downtown Seattle, point to a very specific catalyst. 
"I get Adbusters, so that's how I heard about it," he says. 
Adbusters is an anti-consumerism magazine based in Vancouver, British Columbia. This summer, it proposed a Sept. 17 "occupation" of Wall Street, and the idea caught fire.
There is also circumstantial evidence that links George Soros with Adbusters.

In other words, it pays to keep an eye on what Adbusters is up to.

Of late, they have been driving internet visitors to to a website called (which is part if the Adbusters Foundation). Adbusters writes:
Now is the time for a global walk-out. Download a poster of the True Cost Economics Manifesto at and pin it up in the corridor of your department. Let's start an all out meme war against our neoclassical profs and begin the task of ushering in a new bionomic, psychonomic, ecological economics paradigm.
Here's the wacky True Cost Economic Manifesto (Click on the manifesto for a larger view):

It sounds as though the author of this manifesto has read Friedrich Hayek's The Counter Revolution of Science and gets the methodological problems in mainstream economics, but then uses this methodological foundation to jump into a land of advocacy for environmental restrictions on the use of land, with a hint of human management. This great leap into environmentalism and human management is, of course, a leap that is hard to connect to Hayek's discourse on the failures in current mainstream methodology, but, hey, you have to hang your hat somewhere. 

What is the real aim of Their site tells us:
We invite economics students around the world – especially PhD students – to join the fight to revamp Econ 101 curriculums and challenge the endemic myopia of their tenured neoclassical profs.
Econ 101 needs a good revamping, but where Kick want to take it is scary. A look at the economists associated with Kick makes that clear. They are listed in a section called Meet the Mavericks:
  • Lourdes Benería 
    Lourdes Benería is a professor of gender and economic development at Cornell University and the author of Gender, Development and Globalization: Economics as if People Mattered. Her research centers on feminist economics, labor markets, women’s work and globalization, with a special focus on Latin America. She spoke with ecological economist Tom Green. 

    Joseph Stiglitz 
    Joseph Stiglitz has served as both vice president and chief economist for the World Bank. Stiglitz also chairs at the Brooks World Poverty Institute and is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Stiglitz, along with George Akerlof and Michael Spence, won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001. His latest book is The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict. Ecological economist Tom Green talked to Stiglitz about the shortcomings of contemporary economics.. 

    Herman Daly 
    Herman Daly is one of the founders of the interdisciplinary field of ecological conomics. Formerly a senior economist for the World Bank, he moved to the University of Maryland, College Park in 1994. He received the Right Livelihood Award (the “Alternative Nobel Prize”) in 1996 for his work in developing ecological economics, incorporating “the key elements of ethics, quality of life, environment and community.” The following excerpts are from his interview with ecological economist Tom Green. 
    George Akerlof 
    George Akerlof is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He won the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics (shared with Michael Spence and Joseph E. Stiglitz) for his paper “The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism.” Akerlof has worked to incorporate human psychology into economic models since 1970. His recent publications include Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism, Explorations in Pragmatic Economics and Thoughts on Global Warming. He spoke with ecological economist Tom Green about what’s missing from mainstream economics. 
Joseph Stiglitz on this short list should send up all kinds of alarms. The man is a one-person apologist for any globalist institution and no Soros conference is complete without Stiglitz as a presence. Do the occupiers have any clue as to what direction they are being herded?

As for Lourdes Benería, in an interview, the "femminist economist" states:
The problem is that to deal with gender relations you have to incorporate power into the analysis. Neoclassical economics does not deal with power relations; it tends to focus on purely economic issues. In contrast, the so-called “bargaining models” can focus more directly on power and asymmetric relations within the household.
Please excuse me, but it sounds like Beneria wants to turn Econ 101 into a course that would more appropriately be just for females and be called, "How to be a Bitch in the Kitchen and the Bedroom".

Then we have Herman Daly, who put his time in with the globalist, interventionist World Bank, and who now wants to cut energy use back 50 decades because we are, according to him, encroaching "too much on...[the] surrounding ecosystem, [and]we will begin to sacrifice natural capital (such as fish, minerals and fossil fuels) that is worth more than the manufactured capital (such as roads, factories and appliances)." What the hell is he talking about? If something is worth more, we take better care of it than something that is worth less. Privatize the waters and fish will be properly taken care of and last I looked oil companies are doing a pretty good job of protecting their fossil fuels.

Then we have George Akerlof who wants to somehow put "norms and motivations" into economic models. "We need to once again base our models on, as Keynes put it, 'our knowledge of human nature and ... the detailed facts of experience.'" Good luck with that, given that the real problem, as Mises, Hayek and Rothbard taught, is that there are no constants in the field of human action, so no mathematical equations can be constructed, given we are only dealing with variables.

Bottom line: All though the frontline occupiers do not appear to have any sense of a direction, Adbusters sure seems to have things mapped out pretty well. It's all about feminist, environmentalist, globalist advancement. Adbusters has tapped into legitimate frustration and anger against the crony capitalist system and appears to be directing it in a far left direction that will also benefit crony capitalists. Rage against the machine is turning into an advocacy of expansion of the machine.


  1. This phenomenon is nothing new - look at the revolutions in France in the early 1800's.

  2. Adbusters is actually more annoying than the mainstream garbage it lampoons.

  3. I think that they are all to stupid to realize this.
    A bratty little protester will never have the brainpower to recognize tyranny.

  4. As an exercise, someone should come up with a list of professors who we would like to see take over the Econ 101 claims of the country. Come to think of it, I think Waltet Block did exactly that, in an LRC article a couple years ago

  5. Yep, you've proved that you indeed have far less tact than I by stating, "How to be a Bitch in the Kitchen and the Bedroom". I will never again question you on this matter (of tact). LOL

  6. "..Adbusters has tapped into legitimate frustration and anger against the crony capitalist system and appears to be directing it in a far left direction that will also benefit crony capitalists. Rage against the machine is turning into an advocacy of expansion of the machine..."

    It is their cronies (i.e. American, military-industrial, oil, old media, agri) versus ours (i.e. Euro, welfarist,, new media, IT).

    This isn't class wars, it's the crony wars.

  7. "Recklessly projecting an illusion of progress..."

    Oh, the humanity!

    All sarcasm aside, this is frightening stuff. This social order reads like it was written by the inmates.

    Next up will we see Nehemiah Scudder?


  8. Whatever the many problems with neoclassical orthodoxy in economics these guys essentially have no economics at all. It is just wishful thinking and government wand waving hocus pocus.

  9. This recent piece on Naomi Klein strikes me as having some relevance to much of this movement, or at least, its numerous safe upper middle class sympathisers. See here.

  10. Is Joseph Stiglitz a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, because he likes to pontificate at length?

  11. Holy crap, they've hit all of the hipster hot buttons.

    I'm actually kind of afraid now.

  12. "Mathematics of Rule" will eventually relegate the entire faux economics profession to the dustbin of history along with other mysticism such as the "tooth fairy":

  13. I found this on my campus, hadn't heard anything about this. I sent the link to Tom Woods an hour before you posted it. We need to address this in the light. Sunlight is the best medicine, Austrians need to be in the media as much as possible showing that yes these problems with neo-classical economics have been there and you (austrians) have been pointing this out for a century or more, and then go on to explain how ridiculous the crap they are putting it out is.

    Thank you for posting this article. The Austrian school can benefit from this failure of keynesian policies but we need to get the message out there by reasoned and logical arguments that can't lose. I think we have a chance to persuade much of the OWS crowd that isn't heavily steeped in socialism already and will refuse to believe their own eyes.

  14. I like JFF's comment.

    This isn't a revolt of the 99%. It's the bo-bo revolution..."hipster doofus uber alles"!!!


  15. The movement likely started last May in Madrid, and it has appeared in various forms, in countries including Egypt and Libya. It is now taking place in various forms in hundreds of cities worldwide.

    The main driver might be increasing food prices, if not higher oil prices and chronic unemployment. One report reveals that if food prices do not go down, then the social unrest will grow worse.

    Thus, anomalies in financial speculation are only masking the true cause of social unrest worldwide, which is increasing resource demand, esp. for oil, hitting a production ceiling that has flattened out due to peak oil.