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Economics research seminar with Steven Fazzari and Julian Wells

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Time: 3.00pm - 5.00pm
Venue: Room 5006, John Galsworthy building, Penrhyn Road campus, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE
Price: free

Economics research seminar with Steven Fazzari and Julian Wells

Please join us for this event as part of the Department of Economics Research Seminar Series.


'The Sustainability of US Household Finances' by Steven Fazzari (Washington University, St Louis)

The financial sustainability of US households is usually proxied by intuitive measures, like the debt-income ratio, that are only loosely linked with a more rigorous definition of sustainability. We employ balance sheet and income date from the PSID to project lifetime resources and compare these resources with household consumption to assess household financial sustainability. Results show that while the vast majority of American households were sustainable in the mid 1980s, sustainability declined sharply through the middle 2000s. While sustainability has stabilized around the Great Recession and its immediate aftermath, it remains well below levels from two decades ago. This result raises questions about the ability of the US household sector to once again become an engine of demand growth.

'Marx reads Quetelet: a preliminary report' by Julian Wells (Kingston University)

Marx's engagement with the work of Adolphe Quetelet has been little noticed and, arguably, even less well understood. Indeed, Quetelet himself is now all but forgotten except by specialists in the history of statistics, despite his being the creator of the notion of the 'average man', ubiquitous in modern discourse. This neglect is unfortunate in the light of another under-appreciated fact, namely the profoundly probabilistic character of Marx's political economy. This is apparent throughout his career, from preoccupation with the issue of chance and necessity in his earliest writings through to the sophisticated statistical arguments in Capital. Until very recently it has not been possible to directly assess the influence of Quetelet on Marx's thought. However, this has changed as a result of the recent digitisation and on-line availability of Marx's notebooks. This article presents the first analysis of Marx's excerpts from Quetelet. Although the results are preliminary, it is clear that Marx used Quetelet not only as support for his own historical materialism, but also to sharpen his understanding of statistical concepts as such.


Steven Fazzari is the Bert A. and Jeanette L. Lynch Distinguished Professor and Associate Director of the Weidenbaum Centre on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy at Washington University in St. Louis.  He received his PhD in economics from Stanford University in 1982.  Professor Fazzari's research explores the financial determinants of investment and R&D spending by USfirms and the foundations of Keynesian macroeconomics.  Recent work focuses on the macroeconomic effects of rising inequality and financial fragility in the US household sector.  His published articles appear in a wide variety of academic journals and books.  Fazzari's co-edited 2013 book from Cambridge University Press investigates the sources and responses to the US Great Recession that began in late 2007.  A recent search found nearly 3,000 citations to Fazzari's publications in the Research Papers in Economics database (over 11,000 in Google Scholar). 

In addition, his research and commentary on economic conditions and public policy has appeared in the national and international media. Fazzari teaches macroeconomics, from introductory freshman courses to PhD. seminars.  His teaching awards include the Missouri Governor's award for excellence in university teaching, the Emerson Award for teaching excellence, and Washington University's distinguished faculty award.  He has been active on university committees and task forces throughout his career.  Fazzari served six years as chair of the Department of Economics. In 2014 he began an exciting new job as chair of the newly founded Department of Sociology. 

Julian Wells trained as a journalist after leaving school, and worked in local newspapers and trade and technical periodicals before taking his BSc (Econ) as a mature student (Queen Mary London 1985), and an MSc in Logic and Scientific Method (London School of Economics 1986). A varied teaching career included extensive work in course development with the Open University (1996-2009) before joining Kingston as a senior lecturer in economics in 2003. His research interests are in the new field of probabilistic political economy ('econophysics'), in particular in the statistical distribution of company profit rates, which is the topic of his doctoral research (the Open University 2007).

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Contact: Antoine Godin


Directions to Room 5006, John Galsworthy building, Penrhyn Road campus, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE: