Econophysics: an introduction

I have criticized a number of times Econophysics as a rather naive venture of physicists into Economics, where there is too much focus on "automatic" data exploration and too little use of theory and understanding of what the data measure. But may it is just my prejudice against and my ignorance of Econophysics.

B. G. Sharma, Sadhana Agrawal, Malti Sharma, D. P. Bisen and Ravi Sharma offer in six pages an account of what Econophysics is, what its goals are, what it can contribute and where it is headed. The basic idea is that economic agents are like particles in that they are in large numbers and interact in complex ways. The dynamics of such complex processes are studied with powerful statistical tools in Physics, and physicists think that this should also apply to Economics. The focus is very much on the stock market, probably because physicists have realized where money can be made. There is no sense that there would be an attempt to improve welfare. They are also much more likely to completely discard a model in one set of observations does not corroborate it. Physicists are especially critical of how economists stick to rejected dogmas and of their inability to explain how small shocks can pan out into large crises.

The focus is really on the description of data process and documenting there statistical properties. In particular, econophysicists want to find ways to exploit even the smallest opportunities for arbitrage by finding, often through obscure and complex black box processes, the right price of an asset at any moment in time. However, there is no attempt at understanding why these arbitrage opportunities arise, say because of some form of irrationality, asymmetric information or perverse interactions in the price mechanism. From this I conclude that Econophysics can be interesting to make money on the stock market, but at least at this point, does not help us in any way in understanding why the world is like it is. Which I find rather ironic for Physics.

No comments:

Post a Comment