Directed Polymers and the Distribution of Wealth

Les Schaffer godzilla at
Fri Aug 25 10:29:29 PDT 2000

Chuck0 cracked me up saying:

> These physicists seem to have figured out that we're stuck with small

> numbers of people getting all the wealth.

> I think they should stick to gluons.

probably... although they are condensed matter physicists, not particle physicists.

you gotta realize though how much bullshit something like the New Scientist is talking when they write THEIR SPIEL on the original paper. rather than getting into the model itself, how one could test it to see if its anything more than an ANALOGY between phase transitions and economic wealth distribution, they talk about the paper like its just plain obvious that if a model of a dog meows like a cat, it must be a cat.

or, as Barkley says, just because it barks like a Pareto distribution, dont mean its a dog, err, an economy.

the paper is a very interesting read nonetheless. my science/engineering friends and i like to call stuff like this toy models. something to play around with, generate ideas, help to visualize mechanisms down underneath. does the toy have ANYTHING to do with the topic under discussion? welllllll, thats a whole nother story. even the authors of the original paper don't touch that one.

and anyway, i assume there is more than a little something wrong with this picture:

The conclusion of the above results is that the distribution of wealth tends to be very broadly distributed when exchanges are limited, either in amplitude (i.e. J too small compared to sigma^2) or topologically (as in the above chain structure). Favoring exchanges (in particular with distant neighbours) seems to be an efficient way to reduce inequalities. <<<

les schaffer

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