at random times

ironman2012

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

But as of this moment, those models can't really forecast the economy like our meteorologists can forecast the weather. Furthermore, they contain a lot of obviously wrong assumptions. To give just one example, many of the models stipulate that companies are only allowed to change their prices at random times!

(This comes from theatlantic.com Should We Trust Economists? by Noah Smith on Jun 4, 2013.)

1. Does the blue part just mean "at random"?
2. What does "times" mean? Is it the plural of "time (i.e. day, month, year)"?

Thanks in advance!
 
  • Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    "Random" has its conventional meaning. "Times" means "occasions".

    Definition of RANDOM

    random

    adjective
    Definition of random (Entry 2 of 3)

    1a: lacking a definite plan, purpose, or pattern
    b: made, done, or chosen at randomread random passages from the book



    time
    noun
    \ ˈtīm \
    Definition of time
    (Entry 1 of 3)

    1a: the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues : DURATION
    b: a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future
    c: LEISUREtime for reading
    2: the point or period when something occurs : OCCASION

    Definition of TIME
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Does "at random times" mean "at any times they want"?
    That is how I would read "[...] many of the models stipulate that companies are only allowed to change their prices at random times!".

    However it does not say who is choosing those random times.
     

    ironman2012

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    That is how I would read "[...] many of the models stipulate that companies are only allowed to change their prices at random times!".
    Sorry for my poor understanding. Do you mean you agree on "at random times mean at any times they want"?
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Only allowed to change their prices whenever they want ??:confused:

    That doesn't make lexical sense to me: there's a contradiction between "allowed" and "whenever they want".

    I think the meaning is "only allowed to change their prices at times that appear to be illogically/arbitrarily chosen". That doesn't make economic sense to me, because companies can change their prices whenever they like, but we're not talking about reality here; we're talking about an economic model.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Sorry for my poor understanding. Do you mean you agree on "at random times mean at any times they want"?
    I think that is how I would interpret it. It could be by some randomizing device similar to a roulette wheel, but I would not think so. It is left open to interpretation.

     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Only allowed to change their prices whenever they want ??:confused:

    That doesn't make lexical sense to me: there's a contradiction between "allowed" and "whenever they want".

    I think the meaning is "only allowed to change their prices at times that appear to be illogically/arbitrarily chosen". That doesn't make economic sense to me, because companies can change their prices whenever they like, but we're not talking about reality here; we're talking about an economic model.
    Or maybe they are only allowed to change the prices at government mandated times which are determined randomly. That makes lexical sense, but little sense beyond that.
     

    The pianist

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Pick a number, say 4. Toss a die on a pool table. If you get a 4, that will occur at a random time. You're talking about a mathematical model. You can set any constraints or conditions you want.
     
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