Economists and honesty

Can economists be trusted to tell the truth?  If they can,  why can’t they see the same truths as I see?

These questions are prompted by this article about a very small experiment which suggests that economics and business students are more dishonest than students in humanities, sciences and other fields.

The study was based on a very small sample but still it is tempting to believe there may be some truth in it.

Economists tend not to see things that at least to me are very obvious.  For example, that economic growth has come to an end.  In light of the evidence it must take a lot of faith to predict that recovery is just around the corner although lately the time frame seems to be increasing to a year or two.  There’s a song which tells us that tomorrow is just a day away and a saying that tells us tomorrow never comes.

Are economists lying or are they deceiving themselves?  Or am I the one committing self-deception?

One has to note that most of us have to support the views and interests of our employers.

I have for a long time figured the role of economists is not to solve economic problems but to give legitimacy to economic activity which consumes scarce resources and sometimes trods over other people’s lives and values.  Economists were the theologians of the twentieth century.

In any case economists don’t have a great record for accuracy or for proposing viable solutions to economic problems.


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More stimulus spending: This time it will be different

Today’s Economist has  a report on an article arguing in favor of more economic stimulus.

In this article we have a couple of high-ranking economists arguing that under current circumstances stimulus spending will be self-financing in that it will bring in higher tax revenues.  This time it will be different.

This sounds like the frustration of drowning people who don’t know what is happening to them.

I have a theory that economists were the theologians of the twentieth century.  Their debates were as relevant as the medieval debate over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. Their role was to provide legitimacy to our economic activity during the golden years of prosperity and to our excessive use  of resources.

Now that we are having to deal with the consequences of our using up the most accessible resources, they don’t have a clue as to what to do.

If you are in the water over your head and you want to survive you should at least try to tread water.  Treading water in the ocean of economics will  require some major changes in economic thinking.

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