Archives

Here’s an archive of my writing. All of my work is licensed in the creative commons (CC BY 4.0), so you can reproduce it as you see fit, provided you cite the author (usually me, Blair Fix) and link back to Economics from the Top Down.

On that note, this blog runs on a gift economy. I do painstaking research and give it away for free. And in return, generous readers support me on Patreon. A big thanks to all of my supporters!


2021

  1. Living the good life in a non-growth world: Investigating the role of hierarchy January 5, 2021 This is the first in a series of two essays written for (and supported by) the Seoul Platform for Initiating Discourses on an Equitable and Resilient Society.
  2. The Rise of Human Capital Theory January 14, 2021 What's the most pernicious scientific idea ever? I'd give first prize to eugenics and second prize to human capital theory.
  3. The Trouble With Human Capital Theory February 1, 2021 A talk given to the SEEFAR center about the problems with human capital theory.
  4. Living the Good Life in a Non-Growth World: Investigating the Role of Hierarchy (Part 2) February 9, 2021 This is the second in a series of two essays written for and supported by the Seoul Institute SPIDERS initiative.
  5. Living the Good Life in a Non-Growth World — The Talk Version February 18, 2021 The talk version of my recent paper on degrowth.
  6. Radically Progressive Degrowth: Reducing Resource Use by Eliminating Inequality February 26, 2021 I look at the degrowth that might be achieved by eliminating inequality.
  7. A Review of Carey King’s ‘The Economic Superorganism’ March 5, 2021 I review Carey King's new book 'The Economic Superorganism'.
  8. Energizing Exchange: Learning from Econophysics’ Mistakes March 12, 2021 I take a look at kinetic exchange models of income, and what we can learn from their mistakes.
  9. This Blog is Now ‘Free Culture’ March 16, 2021 Economics from the Top Down is now officially in the Creative Commons.
  10. Why Are Most Textbooks Still Proprietary? March 17, 2021 Let's move all textbooks to the Creative Commons.
  11. Power … and the Dialect of Economics March 30, 2021 Here's the manuscript for a new piece in The Mint Magazine about the language of economics.
  12. The Deep History of Human Inequality April 16, 2021 Have humans always been egalitarian? The evolutionary evidence suggests not.
  13. Energy and Economic Development: Understanding the Role of Hierarchy April 29, 2021 My talk given to the University of Texas Energy Symposium.
  14. Jesús Suaste Cherizola Wins the 2021 CASP Essay Prize May 3, 2021 I discuss Suaste Cherizola's prize-winning essay 'From Commodities to Assets'
  15. Free Speech For Me, Not You May 6, 2021 I explore the power struggle behind ‘free speech’.
  16. Once More Into the Fire of Academia May 10, 2021 I’m starting a postdoc in July.
  17. A Brief History of the Buy-to-Build Indicator May 13, 2021 A rapid-fire post about Nitzan and Bichler’s buy-to-build indicator.
  18. RECASP Back Catalogue Now in Full-Text HTML May 31, 2021 It has been an ... interesting month. But I did manage to finish a small project.
  19. The Ritual of Capitalization June 2, 2021 I take a detailed look at the quantitative ritual that orders our social world.
  20. The Quant Case for Open-Access COVID Vaccines June 9, 2021 I crunch the numbers on COVID vaccines. No surprises ... they're going overwhelmingly to rich countries.
  21. The Half Life of a Spotify Hit June 18, 2021 I quantify the cutthroat nature of the music industry by measuring the half life of hit songs — the time they spend above 50% of their peak popularity.
  22. Essentialism and Traditionalism in Academic Research July 2, 2021 We discuss scientists’ tendency to turn hypotheses into innately true ‘essences’ passed down by tradition.
  23. Is Human Probability Intuition Actually ‘Biased’? July 9, 2021 Human intuition for probability may not be as 'biased' as behavioral economists think.
  24. My Coding Mix July 20, 2021 Here’s the software and packages that I use the most for my research.
  25. The Evolution of ‘Big’: How Sociality Made Life Larger August 12, 2021 I explore how sociality underpins the evolution of big life.
  26. With Great Power Comes Great Fear August 30, 2021 I discuss the ongoing research into the capital-as-power model of the stock market.
  27. How the Labor Theory of Value Emerges from Egalitarianism September 11, 2021 Karl Marx declared that all value stems from labor. Was he right?
  28. The Long, Slow Death of the Free Market September 16, 2021 Here's the blog summary of my paper 'Economic development and the death of the free market'.
  29. Tidyquant: An Open-Access Tool for Studying the Stock Market September 18, 2021 Tidyquant is a nifty R package for get stock-price data.
  30. Power Over Principles September 21, 2021 Some philosophical thoughts on Canada’s recent election.
  31. Di Muzio on ‘Sabotage’ September 27, 2021 Tim Di Muzio explores the concept of ‘sabotage’ as it applies to capitalist power.
  32. How Dominant are Big US Corporations? September 29, 2021 My thoughts on the state of corporate power in the US.
  33. A Review of Geoffrey West’s ‘Scale’ October 4, 2021 Yes you should read 'Scale'. No, don't believe everything it says.
  34. Institution Size as a Window into Cultural Evolution October 18, 2021 Does the deep past live with us, encoded in the structure of our institutions?
  35. Soft-wars October 20, 2021 Chris Mouré has a new paper on big-tech battles. Here are the highlights.

2020

  1. The Power Ethos in the US Military January 4, 2020 Income in the US military follows the power ethos — to each according to their social influence.
  2. The Productivity of Bullshit Jobs January 7, 2020 What's your 'productivity' when you use a bullshit job as a front to do something creative?
  3. Debunking the ‘Productivity-Pay Gap’ January 17, 2020 The 'productivity-pay gap' has nothing to do with productivity. Here's why.
  4. Some Sunshine on the Ontario Job Hierarchy February 3, 2020 I use the Ontario Sunshine List to shed light on how income grows with hierarchical rank.
  5. How Do You Spot a Crank? February 5, 2020 It's a perennial problem in science. How do you know when someone's a crank?
  6. Understanding Income: You Can’t Get There from Here February 7, 2020 When it comes to income, economists ask the wrong question. So they get the wrong answer.
  7. What if the Government is Just Another Firm? (Part 1) February 19, 2020 Governments are different than firms, right? Maybe not. When it comes to size, governments behave like they're just another firm.
  8. What if the Government is Just Another Firm? (Part 2) February 28, 2020 Politics determine government size, right? Yes and no. I show here that there's more to government size than just politics.
  9. I’ve Joined Patreon March 7, 2020 This site is now reader supported.
  10. The Challenges of Doing Revolutionary Science (Part 1) March 22, 2020 Sometimes scientists fall victim to a base human instinct — the need to conform. When they do, we need revolutionary scientists to put science back on track.
  11. The Challenges of Doing Revolutionary Science (Part 2) March 26, 2020 I recount the difficult lives of a few revolutionary scientists. And I discuss some career tips for doing revolutionary science in a hostile world.
  12. One Year of Blogging April 11, 2020 Economics from the Top Down is 1 year old
  13. Biophysical Economics and the Coronavirus Pandemic April 15, 2020 I discuss biophysical constraints on our ability to cope with the current pandemic.
  14. No More Ads April 26, 2020 I've gotten rid of ads on Economics from the Top Down
  15. The Free Market as a Double Lie April 29, 2020 What if the free market has never been about freedom?
  16. Economic Development and the Death of the Free Market May 19, 2020 I show how hierarchy grows with economic development — something that neoclassical economics says shouldn't happen.
  17. Guest on the Debunking Economics Podcast May 20, 2020 I discuss my research on income and hierarchy with Steve Keen and Phil Dobbie
  18. Productivity and Income … Again May 23, 2020 I revisit the productivity-income quagmire.
  19. In the Beginning … There Were Loops May 28, 2020 I take a break from political economy and talk computer science.
  20. What Trait Affects Income the Most? June 2, 2020 Ever wondered what trait most affects your income? Turns out it’s your rank in a hierarchy.
  21. Economic Growth Theory … Bah Humbug! June 10, 2020 The neoclassical theory of economic growth is an example of Murphy's law: everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
  22. Can the World Get Along Without Natural Resources? June 18, 2020 I dissect how neoclassical economics treats (neglects) natural resources, and discuss ways to fix it.
  23. Energy and Institution Size June 24, 2020 A talk about how and why institutions grow with energy use.
  24. A Blog Reading List July 3, 2020 Here are the 5 blogs that I read frequently.
  25. Why Isn’t Modern Monetary Theory Common Knowledge? July 5, 2020 I’ve always been baffled that modern monetary theory is called a ‘theory’. Why don’t we just call it ‘the way money is’?
  26. Why America Won’t Be ‘Great’ Again July 11, 2020 The rise and fall of empires is written in the language of energy. Let's have a look at this 'energy book' and see why America won't be 'great' again.
  27. Living the Good Life … Without Killing the Planet July 17, 2020 How can we improve human welfare without consuming more energy?
  28. 10 Tips for Making Beautiful Charts July 23, 2020 Here are 10 tips for making charts that pop.
  29. The Paradox of Individualism and Hierarchy July 31, 2020 People tend to become more individualistic at the same time that hierarchy grows. What explains this paradox?
  30. Supply and Demand Deconstructed August 5, 2020 In a new video, Jonathan Nitzan demolishes the neoclassical theory of prices. Here's a summary and some consequences.
  31. Winning the Game of Life August 11, 2020 Here are 10 countries that are beating the energy-life expectancy trend and 10 countries that are falling behind.
  32. Why ‘General Intelligence’ Doesn’t Exist August 18, 2020 IQ tests have always bothered me. They claim to measure 'general intelligence'. I think this is bullshit.
  33. Free Capital as Power Ebook August 26, 2020 Capital as Power — the seminal text written by Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler — is now available for free as both an epub and online book.
  34. Stocks Are Up. Wages Are Down. What Does it Mean? September 4, 2020 The US is in uncharted territory. Never before have stocks been so high relative to wages. Here's what it means.
  35. Frederick Soddy’s Debt Dynamics September 12, 2020 Frederick Soddy looms large in the field of ecological economics. Here's a short dive into his ideas.
  36. A Second Look at Hierarchy September 18, 2020 In 1957, Herbert Simon proposed that CEO pay had a simple explanation: it stemmed largely from rank in a hierarchy. His model was largely forgotton. Here's a second look.
  37. A Tribute to David Graeber September 21, 2020 In this guest post, economist Christophe Petit pays tribute to his friend and mentor David Graeber.
  38. Advice for an Aspiring Economist September 24, 2020 Some advice about how to avoid getting hoodwinked by mainstream economics.
  39. The Review of Capital as Power September 28, 2020 Exciting news! I am the new editor of the Review of Capital as Power.
  40. How the History of Class Struggle is Written on the Stock Market October 5, 2020 The effects of class struggle, it seems, are written in the most unlikely of places: the stock market.
  41. The Business of ‘Free’ October 9, 2020 A post in which I ask for money the radical political-economist way.
  42. Working With Google Ngrams: A Data-Wrangling Tale October 19, 2020 Here's a tale about empirical work that demonstrates a simple rule: the deeper you go, the harder it gets.
  43. The Capital as Power Forum Lives Again! October 29, 2020 Check out the new and improved Capital as Power Forum.
  44. Deconstructing Econospeak October 30, 2020 I built a bot that counts word frequency. Here's what it says about the language in economics textbooks.
  45. Ideological Tunnel Vision November 4, 2020 The US election got me thinking about the power of ideology.
  46. The Deconstructing Econospeak App November 5, 2020 I build an app that lets you explore my econospeak data.
  47. Peak Oil Never Went Away November 16, 2020 Peak oil was all the rage a decade ago. Now nobody's talking about it. The funny thing is, it's still happening.
  48. As We Exhaust Our Oil, It Will Get Cheaper But Less Affordable December 3, 2020 As we run out of oil, many people believe that its price will skyrocket. But I think the opposite will happen. Oil prices will plummet … yet oil will grow increasingly unaffordable.
  49. Why and How I Write Scientific Documents in Plain Text December 10, 2020 I discuss the advantages of writing technical documents in plain text. And I give you resources to learn how to do it.
  50. As 2020 Ends, Let’s Celebrate Science December 28, 2020 A hellish year is over and a vaccine is rolling out. Let's be thankful for science.

2019

  1. Economics from the Top Down April 11, 2019 Welcome to the first post of 'Economics from the Top Down'. This will be a blog about new ideas in economics and the social sciences.
  2. Groping in the Dark: The Untold Side of Research April 13, 2019 There is an exciting side of blogging that I want to explore here. Blogging can tell the story behind research
  3. Why Scientists Can’t Run Daycares April 14, 2019 A story about scientist parenting.
  4. Agent-Based Models and the Ghost in the Machine April 15, 2019 I am skeptical about agent-based models. Here are my thoughts on their problems.
  5. Let’s Celebrate Being Wrong April 16, 2019 In science, being wrong is cause for a celebration. Yes, you heard me right.
  6. Three Cheers for the Empirical Muckraker April 17, 2019 I pay tribute to scientists who I think have done excellent empirical research.
  7. A Muckraking Challenge April 18, 2019 If you are an empirical researcher, I have a challenge for you.
  8. Visualizing Power-Law Distributions April 25, 2019 Power laws are everywhere, but hard to grasp intuitively. I discuss some tricks for visualizing them.
  9. Real GDP: The Flawed Metric at the Heart of Macroeconomics April 29, 2019 Real GDP is key to macroeconomics. But is it a valid measure of economic scale?
  10. Energy and the Size Distribution of Firms May 7, 2019 As societies use more energy, business firms tend to get bigger. Here's how it happens.
  11. The Growth of Hierarchy and the Death of the Free Market May 15, 2019 Contrary to what neoclassical economists claim should happen, economic growth seems to involve less 'free market' and more hierarchy.
  12. Where’s the Barefoot Revolution in Economics? May 17, 2019 Yesterday I was reminded of what got me interested in economics. I reread the 'Barefoot Economics Manifesto'.
  13. Can A Service Transition Save the Planet? May 21, 2019 Can a service transition help us reduce carbon emissions? The evidence says no.
  14. The Growth of Managers: An Update May 23, 2019 An update to "The The Growth of Hierarchy and the Death of the Free Market". I show you which countries are which.
  15. As it Dies, We Talk About the ‘Free Market’ More May 24, 2019 The less free market we have, the more we use the phrase 'free market'. George Orwell would be proud.
  16. A Review of Gregory Clark’s “A Farewell to Alms” May 27, 2019 Gregory Clark proposes that the differential reproduction of the rich led to the industrial revolution. He's probably wrong.
  17. Resources for Recovering Academic Writers May 28, 2019 I have a confession: I'm a recovering academic writer. Here I share resources that have helped my recovery.
  18. The Allure of Marxism … And Why It’s a Mistake May 29, 2019 Marx thought that private property was the cause of capitalism's social ills. But when Marx's ideas were put in action, they were disastrous. I discuss what went wrong.
  19. Are We Measuring Inequality the Wrong Way? June 6, 2019 Anthropologist Jason Hickel thinks we measure inequality incorrectly. He argues we should measure absolute inequality rather than relative inequality. I think this is a mistake.
  20. What If Scientific Impact Could Be Negative? June 10, 2019 Citation counts are similar to social media "likes" — they are always positive. But what if we had negative citations?
  21. Inequality and Capitalist Income June 12, 2019 In the United States, the income share of the top 1% is tightly related to the share of corporate dividends in national income.
  22. The Legacy of Aaron Swartz: The Fight for Open Access June 19, 2019 Aaron Swartz fought for and (effectively) died for open access to the world's scientific literature. I reflect on Swartz's legacy, six years after his death.
  23. Problems With Measuring Inequality June 26, 2019 We often talk about inequality using a single number — usually the Gini index. But the reality is that inequality is complex. To study inequality, we need to use multiple metrics.
  24. Rethinking Causation in the Social Sciences July 3, 2019 The social sciences, I've come to believe, don't have a coherent concept of causation. To talk about 'causation' we need to have a boundary on cause and effect. I reflect on what this means for studying causation.
  25. No, Productivity Does Not Explain Income July 8, 2019 The idea that income is proportional to productivity is a thought virus that needs to die.
  26. When Inequality Increases and Decreases at the Same Time July 22, 2019 In some countries, the top 1% share of income has increased while the Gini index has decreased. Here's how it can happen.
  27. Making Beautiful Charts Using R ggplot July 30, 2019 I show you my code for making pretty charts in ggplot.
  28. A Reading List For Economic Heretics August 8, 2019 Here are 10 books that every economic heretic should read.
  29. Tribalism in Science (and Economics) August 23, 2019 The ideal of science is to respect the evidence — to take nobody's word for it. But this cuts against our social instinct to pay deference to members of our tribe.
  30. An Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution (Part 1) September 6, 2019 It's time to put economics in line with the rest of science. We need a theory of resource distribution that accepts our evolved sociality.
  31. An Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution (Part 2) September 26, 2019 I continue to explore how our evolved sociality explains resource distribution. I discuss the power ethos — the idea that individuals get resources in proportion to their social influence.
  32. Has Wealth Gone Digital? October 1, 2019 Has the digital revolution made wealth non-material?
  33. An Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution (Part 3) October 17, 2019 I review evidence for the power ethos inside modern firms.
  34. The Tyranny of Meritocracy October 30, 2019 If you're good at something that isn't valued by other people, you won't be rewarded. This is the tyranny of meritocracy.
  35. Productivity Does Not Explain Wages November 14, 2019 Wages correlate with firms' sales per worker. Does this mean that productivity explains wages? The answer is no.
  36. Ten Tips For Doing Open Science November 28, 2019 Here are ten tips for making your research open to fellow scientists.
  37. Call For Papers: Energy, Institutions and Society November 29, 2019 I’ve been asked to create panels for the upcoming International Conference on Thermodynamics 2.0.
  38. The Social Environment as a Cause in Economics December 12, 2019 Economists purge the social environment from their theory of human behavior. Here's why this is a mistake.
  39. Why We Should Abandon Real GDP As A Measure of Economic Activity December 15, 2019 For all that it purports to say, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fails to explain anything relevant about the world.
  40. How Hierarchy Can Mediate the Returns to Education December 20, 2019 In the US military, returns to education are mediated almost completely by hierarchical rank.