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Friday, November 23, 2012

'Imagine Economists had Warned of a Financial Crisis'

Chris Dillow:

... Imagine economists had widely and credibly warned of a financial crisis in the mid-00s. People would have responded to such warnings by lending less and borrowing less (I'm ignoring agency problems here). But this would have resulted in less gearing and so no crisis. There would now be a crisis in economics as everyone wondered why the disaster we predicted never happened. ...
His main point, however, revolves around Keynes' statement that "If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid":
I suspect there's another reason why economics is thought to be in crisis. It's because, as Coase says, (some? many?) economists lost sight of ordinary life and people, preferring to be policy advisors, theorists or - worst of all - forecasters.

In doing this, many stopped even trying to pursue Keynes' goal. What sort of reputation would dentists have if they stopped dealing with people's teeth and preferred to give the government advice on dental policy, tried to forecast the prevalence of tooth decay or called for new ways of conceptualizing mouths?

Perhaps, then, the problem with economists is that they failed to consider what function the profession can reasonably serve.

    Posted by on Friday, November 23, 2012 at 10:21 AM in Economics, Macroeconomics | Permalink  Comments (26)


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