Tag Archives: Roth

The concept of market (Part 2)

[El nombre de esta sección es “artículos en cuotas”. La idea es, como en una novela por entregas, ir subiendo partes de papers a medida que vayan saliendo. El texto abajo es un borrador de un artículo en el que trabajo. Presenté la primera versión en EGOS este año y esto que estoy subiendo acá es una segunda versión, pero aun, borrador y sin edición del inglés. Además de la introducción, el artículo se compondrá de cuatro secciones. Cada parte será una entrega que iré subiendo a medida que tenga las nuevas versiones listas. El texto abajo es la segunda entrega y la primera sección del artículo (ver acá la entrega anterior, la introducción). Como siempre, sugerencias son muy bienvenidas]

The concept of Market

José Ossandón, draft 4/12/2017

Concepts of markets after market design

The following extract is taken from a talk given by the winner of the 2012 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Memory of Alfred Nobel and renowned market designer Alvin Roth:

‘So, first of all think about market design, because market design is an ancient human activity. But because markets are so pervasive we think them a little bit like language. Languages and markets are both human artifacts. But we don’t think of language as something we can change, but as something we get. I speak to you in English and I have to speak in the same kind of English that you speak, otherwise it wouldn’t work. Often we think of markets on that way too: markets just happen. But, of course, markets are human artifacts and market design is that engineering part of microeconomics, that part that fixes markets when they are broken or make new ones sometimes.’ [i]

Roth presents a constructivist approach. He emphasizes that markets are both, like language, a social product, and like other artifacts, the outcome of purposely applied technical knowledge. This description would easily fit recent sociological accounts of markets; but, it would appear as strange in the context of traditional conceptualizations of markets in economics.

A dominant position in the economic sciences of the second half of the 20th century conceived markets in opposition to organization. While organizations were associated to features such as planning, hierarchy, or centralized decision making; markets were seen as decentralized, spontaneous and even inherently non-designable entities. Continue reading

Mini-artículo: Will the Real Engineers Please Stand Up?

[Estimados amigos/as: lo que sigue es la base de un ensayo en inglés en el que estoy trabajando. Cualquier comentario en español, portugues o inglés es sumamente bienvenido. Abrazos.]

Two months ago, I had the rare opportunity to speak to an audience that is foreign to (most of) us: a room full of natural scientists. The conference that I addressed, BioBricks Foundation 6.0, met at Imperial College, London, to discuss the most recent developments in synthetic biology. The panel in which I participated provided a space to introduce ‘recent’ new developments in science and technology studies to synthetic biologists. I read it as an occasion to talk about the now canonical bread-and-butter of social studies of finance—that is, how economics performs the economy. (I wholeheartedly thank Pablo Schyfter and Jane Calvert for the invitation).

While the contents of my talk were nothing new for the readers of this blog, the experience was particularly stirring in other ways, not the least because of the reactions of the audience to the concept of performativity (in their questions, those who remained in the room to listen to the social scientist sought clarification on how to model and predict what they saw as no more than noisy feedback loops between the abstract descriptions of economics and a detached, yet largely objective real world). Indeed, the greatest reward from participating of the conference came from having been exposed to, even if for a few hours, the awesome metaphors of synthetic biology. Continue reading

Are markets matching Callon and Roth?

[Como parte de nuestra colaboración inter-redes este post es publicado conjuntamente con Charisma-Network]

The last meeting of our “Copenhagen market group”[i] was devoted to an increasingly influential stream within current economics, namely “market design”. The discussion left me with the somehow perplexing puzzle I am trying to unfold in this post: isn’t this type of economics almost too close to the ‘markets as calculative collective devices’[ii] approach developed by Michel Callon and colleagues so influential among us -non-economists market researchers- in the last years? Continue reading

La performatividad del premio Nobel

Uno de los temas favoritos de este blog ha sido la performatividad del conocimiento económico. Desde la formulación original de Michel Callon, estudiar la performatividad implica asumir que la economía como ciencia no solo describe los mercados sino que sería una tecnología clave en el proceso de enmarcar y producir aquellos tipos de encuentros que denominamos como económicos. Por supuesto esto ha generado todo tipo de polémicas. Tal como se discute acá, la elección de Alvin Roth como el último premio Nobel hace replantearse algunas cosas, ya que desde este punto de vista el rol de los economistas sería simplemente “diseñar mercados”. Bueno, como en una novela postmoderna, la historia acaba de ganar un nuevo nivel de autorrereferncia, ya que el mismo Roth ha publicado un post en su blog discutiendo el asunto. En sus palabras:

 “Yesterday’s prize to Paul Milgrom for his work in market design (among other things) brings to mind a curious critique (and criticism) of economics in the economic sociology literature, namely that economics is “performative,” in the sense that economic theories influence the real economy to become more like economic theory”

 Curious, ¿no?