Just as almost all mathematics is nonlinear, almost all economic phenomena are complex. (Doyne Farmer)

Claudius Gräbner’s Academic Homepage

Welcome to my academic homepage


I am currently a research associate at the Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy (ICAE) at the Johannes Kepler University Linz (Austria). My research is concerned with the effects of globalization and the determinants for international competitiveness of countries, but I also spend much time working on economic complexity, institutions and development.

Since I am very interested in mathematics and programming I try to integrate them into my work as an economist. Many of my models are therefore computational and the (meta-theoretical) question of how we can create knowledge about the real world by building and studying computational models is also one of my favorite questions to think and write about.

Currently, I do not teach any regular courses at University, but frequently give presentations on topics related to my research. The material of my invited talks and keynotes can be found in the section presentations. Earlier, I mainly taught courses on microeconomics, in particular game theory, information and institutional economics. I also taught a seminar in computational economics and econometrics. You can have a look on the corresponding material in the teaching section.

You may also check out the news section, read some more or less interesting stuff about myself, and get my public PGP key.

Latest news

New working paper on structural change and path dependent development in Europe

Posted February 16 2018

In the paper Structural change in times of increasing openness: assessing path dependency in European economic integration we study the impacts of increasing European integration. We estimate the reactions of countries to an increase in trade and financial openess and find that the effects on different countries are very heterogeneous. Based on this finding we propose a taxonomy of European economies that consists of core, periphery, financialized and catch-up countries. Studying the structural changes in these countries in more detail we suggest that development tractories in Europe are highly path dependent and relate to the sectoral development of European economies and the evolution of their technological capabilities. This has important implications for policy making.

New article on agent-based and equation-based modeling

Posted November 16 2017

Together with my great friends Catherine Bale, Bernardo Alves Furtado, Brais Alvarez-Pereira, James E. Gentile, Heath Henderson and Francesca Lipari , who I all met at the Complex Systems Summer School of the Santa Fe Institute, I published an article in Computational Economics. It is open access and the title is Getting the Best of Both Worlds? Developing Complementary Equation-Based and Agent-Based Models.

The paper deals with the distinction between equation-based and agent-based models, and ways to fruitfully combine them. We apply to our ideas to a model by Acemoglu and Robinson on the Kuznets Curve.

One cool thing about building and ABM from an EBM is that you concern yourself very deeply with the logic of the original model. In our case this helped us to discover some analytical mistakes in the original model, which we have described in this comment.

Presentation on unrealistic models at the TINT workshop in Helsinki

Posted October 25 2017

I was honored to give a presentation at the workshop What to Make of Highly Unrealistic Models? at the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the Philosophy of Social Sciences.

My presentation was about the various ways models can be termed ‘unrealistic’ and when and how they can still be useful. You can have a look at my presentation here and read a summary of my argument here. I greatly appreciate, as always, any feedback!

Material on Summer Course on Computational Economics and Complexity

Posted October 25 2017

This summer I was happy to teach a one-week course on complexity economics and computational methods together with Torsten Heinrich from Oxford University. The Summer Academy is related to Exploring Economics, a wonderful pluralistic economics learning plattform. All the material is available here. Any feedback is, as always, highly welcome.

New working paper on European disintegration

Posted July 26 2017

In the paper Is Europe disintegrating? Macroeconomic divergence, structural polarization, trade and fragility we study the uneven development in Europe since 2000. The basic argument is that European countries follow two different growth trajectories, a debt-led trajectory in the periphery, and an export-led trajectory in the core. We trace the reasons to this to the different level of competitiveness of firms and the technological capabilities in the countries. Our conclusion is that European countries must implement three types of policies simultaneously: macroprudential financial regulation, industrial policy, and progressive redistribution.

The paper is available here and feedback is, as always, highly appreciated.

New working papers: One on informal economic exchange and one on the epistemology of model verification/validation

Posted June 15 2017

I recently finished two working papers: The deals with the functioning of informal economic exchange systems, in particular the value transfer system Hawala. It’s title is Trust and Social Control. Sources of cooperation, performance, and stability in informal value transfer systems. It uses computational experiments to settle an important ambiguity with regard to the stabilizing mechanisms in such systems: is it mainly social control of general trust that is at the core of the system’s stability?

The second is entitled How to relate models to reality? An epistemological framework for the validation and verification of computational models. and takes a more theoretical approach. It suggests an epistemological framework for the validation and verification of computational models. This way, it hopefully contributes to a better understanding and a better comparability of different simulation models.

Feedback on both of them is highly appreciated!

Public lecture on Complexity Economics in Bochum, Germany

Posted June 13 2017

Yesterday I was invited to give a public lecture on Complexity Economics at the Ruhr University in Bochum. The local student group for Pluralism in economics organizes this great even, and I feel proud to be among the speakers. You can find more information on the group and their events on their facebook page.

The talk was in German and you can get the material here. Feedback, as always, very welcome!

Keynote at an ABM Workshop in Berlin

Posted May 22 2017

This presentation was a keynote at the workshop “Agent-based modelling in economics – From toy model to verified tool of analysis” organized by Prof. Sylvie Geisendorf . I discuss ways to verify and validate ABM, and interpret these approaches from an epistemological perspective.

Slides (English)

Article on mechanism-based explanations, complexity and institutionalism

Posted May 22 2017

A new article of mine has been published in the recent issue of the Journal of Economic Issues. It is called The Complementary Relationship Between Institutional and Complexity Economics: The Example of Deep Mechanismic Explanations. In the article I discuss the usefulness of mechanism-based explanations when one is dealing with complex systems, and how this aligns well with the research practice of classical institutionalism.

One challenge with mechanism-based explanations is the need for a new criterion to choose among competing explanations. I argue in the article that Mario Bunge’s concept of deep explanations would be very useful in this respect, but that the more widely known concept of Occam’s razor is problematic.

You can access the paper here or use the accepted manuscript .

I stongly recommend you to have a look at the whole issue of the JEI since there are some very cool contributions. Joseph Stiglitz, for example, discusses how one can counter the vested interests of powerful elites in the political discourse. And Torsten Heinrich provides a very illuminating (and truly interdisciplinary) discussion of evolutionary modelling in economics. Very interesting for me who is interested in development economics and Latin America was the paper by Svenja Flechtner: she discusses the “growth mircale” of the Dominican Republic, which turns out to benefit only a few families. Very interesting, but also worrying contribution!

WIWA Young Scholar Award for Pluralism in Economics

Posted: November 25 2016

I am very happy to receive the WIWA Young Scholar Award for Pluralism in Economics. This is an amazing acknowledgement of my work for which I am very grateful. I thank Prof. Joachim Zweynert for initiating the price last year and to the Witten Institute for Institutional Change for giving the award to me.

I received the price and gave a lecture on the topic “The complexity challenge: Systemist thinking, computational modeling, and pluralism” in Witten/Herdecke on December 12. The talk was in English and you can get the material here.

Segnitz-Award for the best dissertation

Posted: November 5 2016

I am happy and grateful to receive the generously sponsored Segnitz-Award for the best dissertation at the Department of Business Studies and Economics at the University of Bremen. My dissertation contains a couple of contributions to a systemist approach to economics and features an extensive ontological, epistemological and methodological framework for complexity economics.