Okay, I’m in holiday mode now, even though every hard-working blogger knows that there are no holidays for a blogger. If I think of something serious to post between now and the New Year, I will certainly do so, but sprinkled throughout will probably be a couple of posts fit for the silly season. Hopefully there will be some music, although I’m struggling to find anything sufficiently “on point”. Or maybe there will be a bit of film, or comedy. In the meantime, we will have to satisfy ourselves with a smattering of numerology. Actually, that might not be accurate. Whatever it is will soon become clear.
It is an open secret amongst bloggers – though perhaps less well known outside this elite circle of amateur philosophers, occasional scientists and accidental humorists – that a blogger nearly always has a personal reason for starting his or her blog. For some, it is mental illness; for others, a deep character flaw. For still others, the reason is not fully understood until several years later.
Heteconomist, as you’ve probably guessed, happens to fall into all three categories.
About a year ago, during the previous silly season, something known as Gematria was discussed. It attaches numerical values to letters of the alphabet so as to calculate the values of words and phrases. The practice is quite old. It is found, for example, in the Hebrew language. More recently it has been applied to English.
There appear to be various systems in use. The particular system considered here (links can be found in the earlier post) attaches the following values:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Needless to say, on first acquaintance with the system, Heteconomist was quite the skeptic, even though it likes to pride itself on being an open-minded blog when it comes to, oh, just about anything. The present system’s discoverer appears to have deciphered it from the language itself. He offers many examples of secrets uncovered by the method, relating for instance to the speed of light, the diameters of the earth, moon and sun, and other stuff like that.
One example that comes to mind is pi. The value of the word Seven is 22, so pi, approximated as 22 divided by Seven, is said to be embedded in the English language. This is corroborated to the second decimal place by the observation that the value of pi is 8 and the first three digits of pi, 3.14, sum to 8. Accuracy beyond the second decimal place would probably be a tall order for any language — other than, I suppose, for the language of mathematics.
And so we come to Heteconomist and the reason for its existence.
On the surface, it might not seem to present much of a conundrum. Until recently, Heteconomist had always figured that its existence was a simple expression of an interest in heterodox economics, with special emphasis on MMT.
How little it knew!
Here are the values of its author’s full name and date of birth, spelled out in words:
Peter Stuart Cooper = 77
May Nine Nineteen Seventy = 77
All joking and skepticism aside for a moment (and only for a moment), the odds of that coincidence (or is it?) are quite long. Dates typically have larger values than names.
The results happen to be genuine, also. They are not made up. Heteconomist would not do that to its readers. The above really are the full name and date of birth of its author. The number 77 will therefore be taken to hold special significance for the blog.
In view of the above, it might seem surprising that Heteconomist’s number is not 77, but 45. This is confirmed by performing the calculation:
My Number Is Forty-Five = 77
Actually, this is not all that surprising because:
Peter Cooper = 45
This result is somewhat intriguing because Heteconomist’s author will turn 45 on May Nine Twenty Fifteen, a date which has the same value as his date of birth:
May Nine Twenty Fifteen = 77
There are actually four years in the twenty-first century that give this value for May Nine, and they are all spaced twenty-seven years apart: Twenty Fifteen, Twenty Forty-Two, Twenty Sixty-Nine and Twenty Ninety-Six.
Apart from Nineteen Seventy, the author’s year of birth, there is only one other year that gives this result for the twentieth century. Curiously, that year, Nineteen Sixty-One, conforms to the twenty-first century pattern. For some reason Nineteen Eighty-Eight fails to conform, leaving a troubling gap:
1961, –, 2015, 2042, 2069, 2096
The absence of 1988 must be an offset for the rogue inclusion of 1970. The birth of Heteconomist’s author seems to have caused a disruption in the time-space continuum.
By the way, the real meaning of life may be 35 rather than 42, considering that Forty-Two equals 35. But this, unfortunately, does not appear to apply in the case of Heteconomist:
Pointless Existence = 77
Heteconomist’s author, though not aligned with any religion now, was nonetheless born into a fringe religion that does indeed teach that a Godless life is a pointless existence:
Seventh Day Adventism = 77
But, so what?, you say. All that’s well and good, but how does any of it apply to heterodox economics and the preoccupations of Heteconomist?
Well, it seems fair to say that this blog has mostly focused on MMT and its relationship to other heterodox approaches. It should therefore be possible to discern this reason for existence with the aid of Gematria:
MMT-TSSI Synthesis = 77
Sraffian Political Economy = 77
Post Sraffian Economics = 77
This combination is initially somewhat confusing. For that reason, Heteconomist nearly threw out its copy of English Gematria for Dummies ($19:95 on Amazon, $2.95 as E-book) in disgust. The confusion lies, in particular, in the apparent inclusion of conflicting value analyses, the temporal single-system interpretation (TSSI) of Marx and the long-period approach to pricing of Sraffian economics.
In a display of bravado, though shaken on the inside, Heteconomist delivered the following defiant assertion to the Universe:
I Am On The Right Track = 77
Somehow it must all make sense.
On reflection, it seems that the TSSI must be there, in the Gematria code, for its value component. After all, that is basically the only thing the TSSI is about. The fact that some connections between MMT and the TSSI have been broached on the blog (for example, here) may lend a modicum of credence to this speculation.
This would mean that the Sraffian approach to prices is to be overlooked at Heteconomist. This is indicated, perhaps, by the Gematric dictate that the blog be Post (i.e. after) Sraffian Economics, even though it is at the same time to incorporate Sraffian Political Economy.
If we ask which part of the Sraffian paradigm is narrowly economic, it would seem to be what Sraffians themselves have referred to as the “core” – value and distribution. If we then ask what is left over to form Sraffian Political Economy, it must be the non-core, including notably the determination of output, growth and accumulation. (See, for example, here and here.)
But another important aspect of Post Sraffian Economics is that it would need to be an economics that takes place after, and is informed by, the negative critique of marginalism that was presented in the capital debates. This, too, has been a recurring theme.
The inclusion of MMT in the secret Gematric orders would appear to be the least problematic point to reconcile, since the approach is not only central to the blog but sits pretty easily in combination with most other heterodox approaches.
In retrospect, then, Gematria appears to give the eerie indication that Heteconomist exists, albeit pointlessly, to consider the propositions that: (i) currency-issuing governments enjoy maximal policy space; (ii) the determination of value is best conceived within a temporal single-system framework; (iii) output and growth are demand determined, including in the long run; (iv) institutions and history matter; (v) the present system itself is prone to instability; and (vi) the lessons of the capital debates should not be forgotten. Presumably the pointlessness of it all relates to the likelihood that none of this effort will have any effect on anything. The neoliberals have always been destined to win, and will win, but Heteconomist soldiers on, pointlessly.
Incidentally, if you ever wondered why Kalecki and Keynes both arrived at the principle of effective demand, wonder no more:
Kalecki = 22
Keynes = 22
For enthusiasts of the sectoral-balances approach, Godley also equals 22. Lerner, unfortunately, suffered an off-by-one error, registering 23.
If you ever wondered why Sraffa was influenced by classical political economy, it will be obvious by now:
Smith = 25
Ricardo = 25
Sraffa = 25
Some of you may be wondering why, after using the full name of Heteconomist’s author as the basis for an earlier calculation, in these final comparisons only last names are considered. The answer is that this is how Gematria works best. Calculate things one way, then another, until you hit upon something. Publish the stuff that is interesting and leave the rest out. In this respect, it is very much like Econometrics.