Economic Fables

Economic Fables

Ariel Rubinstein
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Open Book Publishers
Pages: 255
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Economic Fables
    Book Description:

    I had the good fortune to grow up in a wonderful area of Jerusalem, surrounded by a diverse range of people: Rabbi Meizel, the communist Sala Marcel, my widowed Aunt Hannah, and the intellectual Yaacovson. As far as I'm concerned, the opinion of such people is just as authoritative for making social and economic decisions as the opinion of an expert using a model. Part memoir, part crash-course in economic theory, this deeply engaging book by one of the world's foremost economists looks at economic ideas through a personal lens. Together with an introduction to some of the central concepts in modern economic thought, Ariel Rubinstein offers some powerful and entertaining reflections on his childhood, family and career. In doing so, he challenges many of the central tenets of game theory, and sheds light on the role economics can play in society at large. The book is as thought-provoking for seasoned economists as it is enlightening for newcomers to the field.

    eISBN: 978-1-906924-79-9
    Subjects: History, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. 0. Introduction
    (pp. 1-40)

    I sat that evening in the back of the auditorium where the first Senate session of the academic year was being held. The table on the stage was draped with a green tablecloth that reached the floor. Seated at the table were the patricians of the university, which is situated north of an almost dry riverbed. A microphone was connected to scratchy loudspeakers. The national flag and the university flag drooped side by side in their stands.

    The meeting opened with a string quartet whose young members had been asked to perform a classical piece to reflect the aesthetic taste...

  4. 1. Rational, Irrational
    (pp. 41-90)

    I consider myself a very rational man, explaining all randomness with statistical tools and refusing to recognize the existence of the hand of fate and supernatural forces. I was born on Friday the 13th and scorn lucky numbers. I like Yeshayahu Leibowitz’s rationalistic definition of belief in God as accepting the yoke of Torah and commandments. This definition freed me from feeling ashamed of my lack of belief in a God who showers me with mercy and is furious about my sins. I believe in making a calculated analysis of decision-making situations, and always consider it appropriate to ask myself...

  5. 2. Game Theory: A Beautiful Mind
    (pp. 91-146)

    I encountered the word Nash. I was a student at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and I came across Nash in an introductory Game Theory course. For me, Nash was then just a short and catchy adjective attached to two abstract concepts that are central to game theory: Nash Equilibrium and the Nash Bargaining Solution. If the concept of equilibrium were named Cournot (who had already thought of this concept in a narrow context in 1838) or “Alpha Equilibrium” or even “Smiley,” it would really have made no difference to me. I must have realized that the word Nash was connected...

  6. 3. The Jungle Tale and the Market Tale
    (pp. 147-184)

    This chapter summarizes the very first lectures in two Introductory Economics courses. One lecture is from the Introduction to the Jungle Economy course. This is a unique course that you cannot learn anywhere else. I will ask you to imagine that you are listening to it in the straw huts of Lubungulu University, located deep in the thick, dark, green jungle. The purpose of this lecture is to present the basic idea of the jungle economy. The second lecture launches the Introduction to the Market Economy course. There is no need to travel to a far-off, exotic venue in order...

  7. 4. Economics, Pragmatics and Seven Traps
    (pp. 185-214)

    The writing of this book is replete with doubts for me. I am discussing academic issues from a personal perspective, a very personal one. While attracted to this form of writing, I do not feel completely at ease with it. In all of my academic work, I have wrapped myself in formal models of economic theory, game theory and decision theory. Typical titles of my papers were: “A Bargaining Model with Incomplete Information” and “Comments on the Interpretation of Decision Problems with Imperfect Recall.” So how is it that I have stooped to using the expression “a visit to interdisciplinary...

  8. 5. (Sort of) Economic Policy
    (pp. 215-248)

    When I was a boy, I strolled every afternoon from my home through Shabbat Square toward the Workers’ Library at the top of Strauss Street. Half-way up the hill was a kiosk that displayed all the daily newspapers, attached by clothes pegs to the wide-open metal window shutters. As a curious child, I would stop and read the newspapers, peeking under the corners of the pages until I had my fill, and then continuing on my way. My favorite two newspapers were always on the lower-left side.Hamodia– “the Mouthpiece of Ultra-Orthodox Jewry” – would vilify the police for...

  9. Bibliographical Notes
    (pp. 249-254)
  10. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 255-256)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 257-259)