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To support my belief in the arbitrariness of economic theory and thought, since different economic systems have their own rules, theories etc., which contradict the rules of other systems and which most of I think are authoritarian (because they're enforced over groups using politics),

does there exist school(s) of economic thought that is about "no economics" or "no economic theory"? Or perhaps no economics in the sense that "all economic theories (e.g. capitalist, communist ...) at the same time".

Or in other words, is there economic theory that's non-political, i.e. does not require politics for functioning?

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    $\begingroup$ I would note simply that exchange (and prices) appear in all political systems, even those that are openly hostile to such activity (take, for example, the rise of "black market" exchange in literally every communist country in history). This should be a hint to you that the premise that all economic theory is inextricably bound to some arbitrary system that is (in an effective manner) enforced through politics is false. Indeed, most economic work is not about or determined by political systems of organization at all. $\endgroup$ – dismalscience Jul 31 '16 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ @dismalscience Then what's the purpose of economics if it's non-political? What can it do? $\endgroup$ – mavavilj Jul 31 '16 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ If you want to know what economics can do, take a look at your electricity bill or go to your grocery store. Do you think politics has anything to do with how much you are charged, and what products are on offer? $\endgroup$ – rocinante Jul 31 '16 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @rocinante But how much proper economic theory does one need to be able to set prices and pay them, or trade? Isn't it achievable even with common sense? So what is economic theory for then? This is still in the context of my question, since here we see(?) that economics can function with "no (political) economics". $\endgroup$ – mavavilj Aug 1 '16 at 6:25
  • $\begingroup$ @mavavilj I don't think you understand "common sense" or what it takes to price products and services, determine supply chains, etc. $\endgroup$ – rocinante Aug 1 '16 at 17:19
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Government behavior/actions play a big role in economics, but economic study certainly isn't constrained by "arbitrary" political forces. As @dismalscience pointed out in his comment, the existence of black markets points towards the drive towards a market-based system no matter the laws or political systems of a given country. Rather than picture economics as a derivative of a set of laws, picture the laws and political systems as being constructs to help shape the underlying economic system (to correct market failures, etc.). The goal and job of those that study economics is to help explain how all of these moving forces interact with one another.

Also, in the comments it is asked why we need economic theory to set prices if it is achievable through "common sense." We don't need economic theory necessarily to set the price, but rather to understand why the price is set, what led to a given price, and how might the price change in the future. The example used of grocery store prices was used for simplicity, but certainly you could imagine far more complex economic interactions where a solid economic theory would come in quite useful (think international trade, wall street, the labor market of the EU, etc.).

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Your last question actually hits at the heart of modern econometrics. For too long, econometrics was almost exclusively theoretical. And sure, theoretical innovation is essential to the field, but independent quantitative analysis is also crucial. The current solution, still in its development, is automated general-to-specific modeling. Using algorithms, econometricians embed theoretical insights from every theoretical background, as well as variables that may not have been previously considered. Then, the relevance of each is tested automatically to high statistical standards.

The results are fascinating. In 2001, David Hendry used this method to analyze inflation in the UK from 1875 to 1991. Incredibly, he found empirical support for excess demand, monetary theory, cost push, mark-up, and others. Even so, all of the specified theories combined couldn't completely account for the greatest incidents of inflation in the UK. As I understand it, this is the kind of economic analysis that you were looking for.

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  • $\begingroup$ "For too long, econometrics was almost exclusively theoretical" ? Could you please support this claim by a link or some explanation? Perhaps it is true but I find surprising. $\endgroup$ – Giskard Aug 2 '16 at 11:10

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