Thursday, December 15, 2011

Occupy Economics Departments

Nicely devastated sir!

What about the failure of the economics profession to forecast the economic collapse? Mankiw concedes, “It is fair to say that this crisis caught most economists flat-footed.” But he insists; “Yet this is no reason for embarrassment….Some things are just hard to predict.”

Mankiw is certainly correct that most conventional economists were caught flat-footed. Indeed, many boasted that their “method not a doctrine” had led to policies that had achieved enduring prosperity and stability. The “central problem of depression-prevention has been solved,” declared Nobel Prize winner Robert Lucas in his 2003 Presidential Address to the AEA.

Before 2008, conventional economic theory championed the deregulation and expansion of the financial sector as a strategy to enhance economic efficiency and lower risk. It taught us that speculation is not a problem because all of the actors have all the information necessary to make the right decision.

It ignored the tsunami of increasing private debt while concentrating its attention and disapproval on a much slower growing public debt.

“The problem is that economists (and those who listen to them) became over-confident in their preferred models of the moment: markets are efficient, financial innovation transfers risks to those best able to bear it, self-regulation works best and government intervention is ineffective and harmful,” Dani Rodrik, Professor of Economics at Harvard comments.

Again Keen is more blunt. “Neoclassical economists were effectively trained to not see this crisis coming, by theoretical fallacies that led them to ignore crucial real-world phenomena like the ballooning levels of private debt, and rampant speculation and fraud in the private sector.”

Well done!

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