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Economists – the scourge of mankind

3 January 2014

11:31 AM

3 January 2014

11:31 AM

Are there any disciplines on earth as hyped-up and overrated as economics? Every subject depends to some extent on others; you can’t, for example, understand history without a bit of geography or human biology, and you can’t master either of those without a bit of chemistry, for different reasons. The same goes for all disciplines – except, for some reason, economics, where the opinion of the experts seems to count for a great deal in discussions where their field is only one aspect.

The great example of this was the euro, which was promoted by the great and the good of the dismal science as a brilliant idea because, of course, reducing barriers between markets will make us wealthier. Of course it will, except… the tiny problem being that the different peoples of Europe have different identities, different ways of doing things, different loyalties, and that their voters want to look after their own interests over those of foreigners.

I wonder whether any publication could have got 300 historians to put in print that a united, democratic Europe was feasible? It seems unlikely, yet strangely few economists seem to have any regard for history at all. Economics is the study of human desires, needs and motivations; history is the study of how those desires and needs have panned out. How can you understand one without the other? It is surely no coincidence that the only senior Labour politician to have expressed concerns about mass immigration before it became politically expedient to do so is the party’s most noted historian, Tristram Hunt.

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So as Romania and Bulgaria become the latest countries with which we have open borders, the debate will no doubt be about the economic impact, and the pro-lobby will be satisfied that the 0.1 or 0.2 per cent increase in GDP per capita is reason enough to justify this latest change.

Yet a migrant is more than just a statistic on the Inland Revenue’s database; to those people he has joined in his new country he is a fellow citizen, a partner, someone with whom he is supposed to enjoy a measure of trust, a fellow club member on a grand scale.

I noticed a prime example of this economist thinking in a recent review of Paul Collier’s Exodus. Collier is an economist but his book looks at how migration from one country encourages further migration from the homeland, and so the social costs inevitably become high. This is because people do not behave only as individuals but as members of a family, a clan or an ethnic or religious group; we are sociable creatures, yet current economic-political thinking seems to take a hyper-individualistic view of the human that ignores our nature. As ant specialist Edward O Wilson once said of Communism, ‘great idea, wrong species’; one might almost say the same of the current neo-liberal assumptions.

When the reviewer complains about Oxford sandwich sellers being forced to leave (which seems almost like a parody of how elites view mass immigration), there appears to be no recognition that people are not merely units of production but individuals with identities and loyalties and relationships, whose actions will affect those around them in lots of non-economic ways.

Obviously if you take restricted markets and open them there will be benefits to be had economically, which globalisation has brought. But to ignore the social implications of this, which in turn have economic implications down the line, is just bizarre. Would an economist analysing Palestinian immigration into the Lebanon in the 1960s and ‘70s simply measure their GDP per capita, or factor in that it lead to instability and civil war? That’s a very extreme example to illustrate the principle, but all migrations have some smaller social impact — most importantly on trust within society, something which has been declining at a steady pace both in the US and Europe in recent decades. It seems improbable that mass migration has not played a part – yet you will never hear this mentioned when the subject is discussed on radio, television or in print. Perhaps it is because such social change is harder to measure; or maybe it is just the way that economics is revered and history despised.

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Show comments
  • DrabOne

    “Yet a migrant is more than just a statistic on the Inland Revenue’s database; to those people he has joined in his new country he is a fellow citizen, a partner, someone with whom he is supposed to enjoy a measure of trust, a fellow club member on a grand scale.”

    To quote the late American commentator Lawrence Auster:

    “That immigration is only to be considered from the standpoint of its economic effects has become such an accepted notion over the past 25 years that it has not occurred to many people what a bizarre idea it really is.”

    According to Auster, no true values, including the values of a distinct political system, culture and way of life, can be comprehended in economic terms.

    “Solely on the basis of measurable, quantifiable, pragmatic facts it is impossible to preserve any society or institution, even so basic an institution as the nuclear family.

    Suppose there were two families, the Smiths and the Joneses, living next door to each other. The two families get along, the children play together, the parents occasionally socialize with each other. Then one day the Joneses announce that they want to move in permanently with the Smiths. When the Smiths seem less than enthusiastic about this proposal, the Joneses say: “What’s your problem? You have enough room, your house is bigger than ours, and we get along together. Besides, the nuclear family is only a modern invention. A dual family will enrich all of us.” To back up these claims, the Joneses bring in an economist who says that two-family households have larger aggregate wealth than one-family households. They bring in a sociologist who cites studies showing that the children raised in two-family households have superior abilities in adjusting to different types of people in a diverse society. Faced with this aggressive challenge to their existence as a family, what can the Smiths say? Their family, as a unique, autonomous association, is an intrinsic, irreplaceable value to its members. It cannot be defended on the basis of quantifiable facts. In the same way, the nation is a family whose distinct character and values cannot be defended on a purely rationalistic basis. To say that it must do so in order to have the right to exist, is to deny its right to exist.”

    http://jtl.org/auster/Huddled/Huddled.html

  • Terry Field

    There is nothing wrong with economics – the whole problem comes with the putrid politicos who constantly lie about the economic out-turns of policies.
    A simple example – so many labour liars say we need a ‘Keynesian’ solution with ‘more spending’
    BUT
    Keynes simply said that at the depth of a cycle depression, the state should ‘pump-prime’ and incur debt accordingly. then he said – THE DEBT SHOULD BE PAID OFF DURING THE CYCLE UPSWING.
    WHEN HAS THAT HAPPENED SINCE 1945?????!??!??!!!!!!
    Tell that to the hordes of leftie liars who constantly misrepresent and lie about his work by falsely invoking what he suggests.
    If Britain destroys itself by incurring massive escalating debts of all types over many decades to have a consumption binge based on fresh air and de-industrialises at the same time – and politicians of all parties are either lie comprehensively about the consequences, or are simply too bl**dy stupid to understand the realities, how is it the fault of any economist??????
    But because these bast*rds will not stop lying, there is no longer ANY point in studying economics.
    None at all.
    It is, quite simply all BALLS.

  • Terry Field

    The crisis is a direct result of financial fraud on a global scale, within the context of economic lies by the worst politicians the West has experienced since the modern sate was invented.
    If Politicians lie about economics to the credulous masses then the credulous masses will be right royally stuffed.
    Given his, there is no further point in studying economics, nor of having integrity, nor of considering statecraft as anything other than Caligula-like murderous and cynical manipulation.
    For these reasons, one can say with real certainty that the West is entirely, fully, permanently and totally STUFFED.

  • mhjames

    ‘Obviously if you take restricted markets and open them there will be
    benefits to be had economically, which globalisation has brought.’

    I fear that is not at all obvious, even though it’s true. Economists since Adam Smith have done the necessary job of persuading enough people to get globalisation implemented. If they hadn’t done it, who would have?

  • swatnan

    We need more scientists not economists.

  • D Whiggery

    The problem with economists is the same as that of psychology. Rather than being simple disciplines of study and observation, they have put themselves forward as fountains of wisdom with which to propose solutions to perceived problems. Each solution may or may not cure the associated problem but will definitely create further problems.

    Economics is:

    1. Observe

    2. Identify problems

    3. Propose solutions

    4. Observe consequent problems

    5. Propose solutions

    6. Observe consequent problems

    7. Propose solutions

    This has been going on for at least 150 years so no wonder we’re in such a mess. There are layers and layers of solutions, piled upon problems, piled on solutions, piled on problems. It’s difficult to know what a real economy is. Does such a thing even exist.

  • RaymondDance

    “The great example of this was the euro, which was promoted by the great
    and the good of the dismal science as a brilliant idea because, of
    course, reducing barriers between markets will make us wealthier.”

    The insistance on promoting the euro should really have been the final nail in the coffin of academic economics, a discipline which should now be banished from our universities.

    Anyone who inhabits planet earth can see that, since currencies are principally pricing mechanisms – and the more pricing mechanisms that you have within the system the more stable the system becomes, that we need more currencies, not fewer.

  • Ummer

    Real economics would mean one would have to learn about compassion, history, religion, I could go on but religion would be the most important factor. Why would I say religion? Because of Imran Nazir Hosein (especially his lecture from 2003 on Islam & the International Monetary System) and what I learned from him. Pseudo economists are taught how to handle and use humanity as if they were cattle, they have no real economics understanding or where the message they get is coming from. They will also have to learn, that wealth is given by God, and God took it away as per Quran 47:38 from those muslim who denied King John a little conversion help. So look at that, the descendants of King John were given the largest empire in history, and took away that wealth from the muslims when history shows that the richest person in the last 1000 years was a muslim. And no, Saudi Arabia only owns wall paper, not gold, or anything like that, nor can it defend it’s oil fields… not with that space age star wars weaponry you’re going to see when they’re taken over.

    If you want to learn about real economics, you need to know about forces beyond this little planet. Such as cosmic background radiation creating clouds, and solar activity 10 year cycles, etc.

  • drydamol1

    BROKEN BRITISH POLITICS-LIES & DECEIT RIFE IN POLITICS

    Ian
    Mcgegor Thatchers henchman hired to close the Coal Industry
    blatantly lied about pit closures

    and the
    loss of jobs backed by Thatcher .Six moths before the Miners Strike 70.000

    jobs and
    70 pits in Wales were earmarked for closure .Under the 30 year rule these

    disclosures
    came from cabinet papers of the Thatcher
    reign and have just been released .

    The Coal
    Industry was totally decimated under Thatcher by lies deceit and stealth .

    Typically
    Shamcams Regime wants to honour her by dedicating the last Bank Holiday

    in August
    to her memory so he rewards Lies and Deceit with an Honour .It shows what

    moral ethics he has so why do Politicians think we believe them .

    Or do they
    ,they have enough arrogance and ignorance not to care in the slightest as long

    as they
    have fed us something and their agenda is going through .

    Blair
    thought his 100 year gagging order would shield him from all his deceit when in
    Power

    but
    Private Correspondence between him & Bush will be published in the Iraq
    Inquiry .

    It just
    goes to show whoever you vote for we are all treated with contempt and derision

    and Lies
    & Deceit are of no consequence .

    http://brokenbritishpolitics.simplesite.com

  • rick hamilton

    To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher:
    There is no such thing as the economy, only the accumulated efforts of millions of individuals.

  • HJ777

    Hayek:

    “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

    Of course, most economists now seem determined to go around designing things.

  • Greek Suffering

    One premise of this blog post–that economists universally supported the creation of an EU single currency–is so absurdly at odds with the facts the author deserves a suitable punishment. Perhaps he should be assigned to a one-term secondary school course on basic research methods, with an emphasis on how to use “Google.”
    A sizeable percentage of both UK and US economists were doubtful the EU was an ideal currency zone, and they said so forcefully in the run-up to the Euro’s adoption. Ironically from the perspective of this column, many of the severe problems of Euro since the onset of the financial crisis were predicted by Euro-skeptics in the 1990s.

    • RobertC

      The UK and US economists doubtful of the success of the Euro were tainted and not believable.

      They were not European. They were connected to Business and were rarely allowed on the BBC. And most were not Labour Party members.

  • CortUK

    There’s a saying amongst more intelligent and cautious investment types:

    “When you hear someone say ‘it’s different this time’, start selling.”

  • CortUK

    A policeman comes upon a man searching for something in the middle of a street.

    Policeman: “What are you looking for?”
    Economist (for he was such): “My wallet. I’ve been looking for ages”
    Policeman: “Are you sure you dropped it here?”
    Economist: “No, I dropped it in that dark alley over there”
    Policeman: “Oh. So why are you looking here?”
    Economist: “Because it’s easier to see under these street lights!”

    Substituting “politician” for “economist” works just as well.

  • CortUK

    Best opinion article about economists I have ever read.

    And I speak as someone who recently started studying the subject.

  • Fergus Pickering

    I’ll tell you something. Years and years ago I worked for a man who could get people through A level economics from total ignorance in ONE YEAR. You couldn’t do that in English or History or French..

  • Tim O’Halloran

    The point about economists being ignorant of history is well made in the Irish context. The only serious economist that tried to warn of the huge bubble building up around 2006 was actually an academic whose main interest was in economic history – Morgan Kelly, Kelly argued from history without any fancy mathematics so that voters could understand his argument. He had great difficulty getting newspapers to publish his articles. His lack of mathematics was ridiculed by conformist right wing economists. The Taoiseach (Prime Minister ) of the day suggested he commit suicide.

    • Tom Tom

      Lots of people have knowledge that is suppressed if it is not The Conventional Wisdom

  • Daniel Maris

    Essentially economics measures money, which can be measured, rather than people, who can’t .

  • Daniel Maris

    That review quoted in the article is so tendentious, one can take issue with virtually every line. There’s hardly any point in correcting it…would the reviewer ever change his mind on anything, regardless of how much evidence one brought forward? He claims less criminality associated with immigration. Really? – when we have over 13% of our population being Muslim, despite followers of Islam constituting only 4% of our general population. He claims there was nothing dysfunctional about migration from Europe into N America – go tell that to the Native Americans, is surely the best response to that nonsense.

  • Q46

    Another thing of which economists have no understanding is business, I suspect because business involves Humans and their capriciousness, virtues, vices without the certainty of statistics, equations and neat theories.

  • Wombeloid

    Excuse me, could someone load the 4 Jan Kindle edition onto Amazon?

    • RaymondDance

      Yes, please.

  • DavidL

    An economics professor told me this joke in 1992. It was the May Day parade in Moscow during the glasnost years. As Gorbachev and the senior politicians and military men watched from the Kremlin the usual parade rolled by: marching men, tanks, missiles, with helicopters and fighters whooshing overhead. At the back of the parade there was a small formation of open-topped Zil limousines, with rather unimpressive looking men in suits sitting in them. A General plucked up the courage to ask Gorbachev who these men were, and what they were doing on the Red Army’s parade. “They are economists”, came the reply. “Never underestimate their destructive potential”.

  • MichtyMe

    On GDP, the 60’s, Bobby Kennedy Quote is apt, “measures everything, except that which is worthwhile”.

    • HookesLaw

      And Kennedy was a politician, a left wing politician, who above all else wanted to ignore the rules of economics to suit how own social engineering ends. So he was dismissive of economics.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …he was far more conservative than your personal hero Call Me Dave the socialist, laddie.

    • CortUK

      It was GNP, but an important point is made.

      “…the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

  • Tom Tom

    Economics started as a branch of Moral Philosophy which is why it has Utility Curves, Goods, Bads, and the priority of resource allocation. Adam Smith, David Hume were Moral Philosophers yet Ricardo was a Stockbroker. Keynes’ Sr was a Moral Philosopher and Keynes’ Jr was a Mathematician/Statistician who turned to Economics.

    Once Economics ceased to be Moral Philosiophy and became Physics it ceased to see Individuals as independent actors and treated them as cows to be herded through penalties (taxes) and incentives (benefits).

    The wholesale purchase of Economics by Banking and Finance in the 1980s destroyed its analytical basis. The work of Hyman Minsky is unique in its analysis of Banks and Debt which are ignored in Mainstream Economics

    • Fergus Pickering

      I don’t think David Hume was an economist.

      • Tom Tom

        Well you are wrong Fergus old son. Not only was he acquainted with Smith and Turgot but he wrote quite lucid pieces on balance of payments, gold, and specie money. He is regarded as an Economist alongside Smith

        • Fergus Pickering

          I’ll take your word for it. Not my field. The graphs are nice.

        • Fergus Pickering

          I stand corrected. Economics was never my thing. Dismal stuff.

      • pearlsandoysters

        The well-known fact that Adam Smith was primarily a moral philosopher is often overlooked. His views on competition are also pretty interesting.

    • pearlsandoysters

      One more thing that merits attention is that the sphere of the political was sidelined, so that the commercial one started to dominate. Methinks that there’s an ever present confusion around economics once most of the time there are many geopolitical or purely political issues that are seriously underestimated or/and underplayed in all sorts of models. Economists are hopeless & hapless once they often give assent to what’s might be rightly called false impressions.

  • Bill Brinsmead

    And your point is ……

    • Wilhelm

      Don’t tell me you actually read the articles ? I never do.

      • HookesLaw

        How can you with a white sheet over your head. The purpose of not reading is the same as the sheet. Your desperate desire is to stay ignorant.

        • Tom Tom

          White sheet suggests purity

  • Wilhelm

    No, it’s the bankers, what’s the most profitable way to make money ? start and finance wars, the Rothschilds lent money to Napoleon and Britain, they have more money than entire nations and like the Mafia, are invisible.

    • Tom Tom

      JP Morgan loaned money to Britain and earned a commission on Procurement for Britain throughout WW1

      • Tom Tom

        and dictated British economic policy after 1921

        • Wilhelm

          Tom, check this out, it’s like a scene from Stanley Kubrick’s film Eyes Wide Shut, disturbing.

          vigilantcitizen.com/latestnews/pictures-rothschild-family/

  • RavenRandom

    Economists suffered their greatest failure when 99.9% of them failed to predict the credit crunch, the worst economic event since the Great Depression. The average predicted GDP for 2008 was about 2%, it actually came in nearer to -7%. That in economics terms is a massive margin of error.
    Yet within six months we were listening to them and their predictions again.
    Predicting the future is impossible, there are simply too many variables in a complex economy.
    Economics only works at big lever levels. Debt has always turned out bad, excess inflation has always turned out bad. Control or limit those and you’ve done about as much as you can.

    • Tony_E

      Yet loads of individuals (including myself) realised that the market was totally distorted, asset prices were too high, and sold large properties for small ones in the 2005-07 period.

      Why couldn’t economists tell that?

      • Tom Tom

        Who was paying you ? Who was paying them ?

      • RavenRandom

        Blimey you must be a billionaire. Are you seriously telling us you can predict the future? How do you know you weren’t just lucky last time? Are you always right? What about the times you are wrong do you feed that into your calculations?

        • the viceroy’s gin

          It’s timing. That’s what’s impossible to predict. Everybody knows bubbles will pop eventually. But when? That’s what’s impossible to predict, especially when governments take such a heavy hand and distort affairs.

          • Daniel Maris

            Damn those governments! If only we could just all live up in the mountains in our log cabins with our fossil fuel stoves! :)

            • the viceroy’s gin

              A terrifying thought for you authoritarian socialist nutters, no doubt, seeing how much you despise freedom and liberty.

      • Terry Field

        They could, but they are retained by big corporations who pay them enormous sums to support the actions of the directors – and when did a chief exec survive at the hight of a boom by saying ‘ Its a bit toppy – I’ll just close down the activity and make less boom-time profit’
        He’d last ten minutes. His feet would not touch the floor.
        I am self- employed, beholden to none, and acted clearly to liquidate all assets at the peak.
        More Bolly anyone?????

    • Makroon

      Ed West asks: “Are there any disciplines on earth as hyped-up and overrated as economics ?”

      Well Ed, since you ask, I can think of two straight off the bat – “journalism” the puerile scribblings of half-educated juveniles, and “climate-science” the pseudo science of shady chancers – the signature “science” of the Blair-Brown era.

      • Terry Field

        Most professions are garbage, full of ‘professional’ words and exclusive behaviour.
        That’s life.
        Make the money by pulling the wool over their eyes.
        But the wool is pulled over all our eyes, and we keep bumping into each other in the dark as a result!!!.

    • JoeDM

      Many understood the downside risks of rise of derivative trading but who would listen to them in the deregulated PFI world of Brown-omics

      • Terry Field

        Peppa Pig expressed confusion on the subject only yesterday.

    • Terry Field

      I do not know about you, but I and my other economist friends clearly predicted it, liquidated all assets before the loss of asset and security values, and then re-purchased at bargain basement prices.
      Cheers!!!!!
      More Krug, anyone???????

  • LadyDingDong

    One only has to read Blanchflower to understand how dismal, and wrong, economists can be.

    • HookesLaw

      But is someone like Blanchflower an economist? or is he a political polemicist simply dressing up his prejudices around economics?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Well, any moron can be an “economist”, so we’d have to assume he’s at least the equivalent of “any moron”.

        • CortUK

          But it takes a very special type of moron to become a Keynesian.

          • Terry Field

            And a socialist liar to ask for Keynsian intervention at the end of a debt-fuelled boom-cycle of consumption and de-industrialisation.

        • Daniel Maris

          So Hayek and Friedmann were morons? Please explain yourself.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            No need to explain anything to you, lad, and it’s impossible to do so in any event, as you’re an ignorant and poorly educated socialist nutter.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …you do have a vivid fantasy life, though, fantasizing what others say.

        • Terry Field

          No, it is not the work of idiots – but the social commentary that distorts people’s understanding of economics is the pork barrel supplying politicians, of liars, political prostitutes and mountybanks.
          We are served by the most degenerate politicians since universal suffrage.
          And democracy is in an existential crisis because of this.
          Just think of the British Prime Ministers both before and after the Blessed Margaret (our great and honourable PM) and savour their qualities!!!!!

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Well, I agree with most all that you’ve typed. The politicians are the prime problem.

            But I’d still maintain that most any moron can be an “economist”. It’s typical social studies, as an educational avenue. That’s not to say that some economists don’t have a lot on the ball, and don’t do great work. They do. But that’s true of any social studies, you’ll have a few stars, surrounded by all the man drones that managed to manuever through the fluffy coursework. The point is, the academics themselves aren’t really much of a discriminator or weeding out process, as you’ll find in other areas of academia, especially the professions.

            • Terry Field

              Yes indeed there are many dud economists – the are easy to spot – they say black is white and argue for vested interests.
              Lots in Westminster.
              All serious players know who the great heavyweight economic thinkers are, but so much ‘white noise’ now in the 24 hr media horror give almost equal time to the real scum of the ‘profession’.
              I do not think the professions are there to ‘weed out’ – they are there to protect the membership.
              I suggest to you that every profession is stuffed with lazy inadequates who cruise to retirement – with very few stars of real integrity and worth.
              NHS dentistry – ever tried it????????

              • the viceroy’s gin

                Ahhhh, but that’s government employees at work, isn’t it? That would be a different animal than true professionals. A professional’s professionalism can be subsumed by numpty government, there’s no doubt. But a dentist doesn’t get to be a dentist without a rigorous academic program, requiring significant ability and intelligence. The social studies aren’t like that.

    • JoeDM

      He is a political operator pretending to be an economist.

    • Terry Field

      Blanchflower – an economist?????
      He is a political economist, the first word being the operative and consequential word.
      He has no good reputation with me, nor with many others.

  • JoeDM

    Real economics is about the analysis of the economic behaviour of individual households, companies, markets, etc. and is a valuable academic subject with huge insight into behaviour. This has nothing to do with politics or political projects like the euro.

    • CortUK

      If only the army of ‘real’ economists who campaigned hard for the Euro understood that simple point then the grande projet wouldn’t be in such a diabolical mess. But then again, the bigger the mess, the bigger the prospect we try to escape.

      • Makroon

        You can, like Ed Balls, benefit from an expensive education in economics from some august institutions (paid for by some misguided philanthropist/sponsor).
        But unfortunately, that won’t teach you the talent of analysis, synthesis and good judgement.
        Most economists have read the texts, but (especially the mouthy ones), reside in academic ivory towers or serve as decorations in prestigious financial institutions or newspapers, where their powers of reason and judgement are never tested and never questioned.
        There are some exceedingly capable (and obscure) business economists though.

  • Harold Angryperson

    “An economist – somebody who knows 100 different ways of making love, but doesn’t know any women” – Anon.

    • RobertC

      Only straight men and lesbians need apply.

  • Tony_E

    Economics isn’t as complicated a subject as economists like to pretend – most of what is complicated are just the constructs of economists to try and exclude the obvious from the equation.

    Since the 40’s, when the high minded amongst us decided that the only way to create fairness in society was by forced redistribution, economists have tried more and more complex ways to try to explain what was happening in ways that seemed positive rather than apocalyptic – they have tried to mathematically create the ‘money tree’ and simultaneously hide the continual theft of depreciating currencies..

    Deficit spending, once it was the norm, suspended the normal laws of economics, and this twisted brand of thinking was then taught in the universities, ousting the more straightforward ‘Austrian’ thinking that would have stopped profligate government in its tracks. Money is no longer a store of value – purely a means of exchange, which is why the value of most assets has risen so quickly since the 1970’s

    And in the end, we are here, with Legarde now scheming to ‘appropriate’ wealth stored in Euros to reduce state debt. Another economist trying to hold back the tide of reality.

    • RavenRandom

      Nah economists are often wrong because the subject is monstrously complicated. They under-estimate complexity as do you.

      • Tony_E

        It’s made complex by the constant distortions added to negate inconvenient facts. Remove those distortions and it becomes very simple, though admittedly subject to random actions.

        • RavenRandom

          No you’re wrong. Can you predict an earthquake in Japan? No you can’t. Will it effect the global economy? Yes. Therefore you are wrong. Can you predict an Arab spring? No. Will it effect the economy? Yes.

          • Tom Tom

            Arab Spring is a direct result of QE in the USA which raised grain
            prices in the largest grain importing region on earth – the Middle east
            and North Africa

            • RavenRandom

              Well, thanks for your opinion on what caused the Arab spring. I guess you saw it coming… unlike nearly every single politician, strategist and spy. Another proof that those who are engaged in predicting the future can and do miss the gigantic events.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                Actually, as commodity prices were rising, particularly food, and balances of payment began to spike negatively, there were many who spoke of such as the Arab Spring potentially occurring. They didn’t miss the “gigantic” event. But then, all they had to do is pay attention, and see who was importing what. Most economists are too dumb to understand that.

              • Tom Tom

                I will guarantee there were papers inside CIA, MI6 and DGSE which predicted the outcomes but were sidelined or suppressed just as there were briefings in early 2001 about a major terror attack in the USA and reports of Moussawei taking flying lessons without landing concerns……..because something has been ignored does not mean it did not exist

                • RavenRandom

                  Ah a conspiracy theorist. I see.

          • Tom Tom

            In fact it is possible to predict revolution in Turkey and probable breakaway of the Kurdish regions

            • RavenRandom

              Yep right. Put a date on that?

              • RobertC

                Why do you want a date?

                So you can join the fighting before it starts?

                The important point is understanding the changes that take place in areas of tension and taking timely defensive action, so that we are not left hung out to dry.

                A ‘stitch in time save nine’ philosophy, applied correctly, creates stability and respect all round. Winning the battle but loosing the war, as we have done in Libya, only creates contempt – all round!

  • HookesLaw

    ‘as hyped-up and overrated as’ —- climate science?
    The Euro was a political project nothing to do with economics. In the same way that global warming has nothing to do with science.
    I imagine you will have found economists warning against the Euro. The introduction of free movement of labour in the EU came with transition periods and also regulations about claiming benefits. If there was no attempt to amend those periods in light of experience (or if they were ignored completely) then that has nothing to do with economics it has all to do with politics.

    Economics deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services or words to that effect. It has nothing to do with ‘human desires, needs and motivations’.
    The author has spent a lot of words explaining the Law of Unintended Consequences all dressed up as a tirade against economics. In other words just another Spectator hack twisting reality to suit his prejudice. He is thus in a perfect symbiotic relationship with most of his audience

    • Tony_E

      I’m afraid your second paragraph is total rubbish – economics is entirely the study of human behaviour, because market forces are simply the reactions of humans working in their own interest in the way that Adam Smith first described.

      All this is driven by human needs, desires and motivations- and why economics is actually rather simple. The complexities that have been added are simply mathematical methods of removing either fact or human nature from the equation and replacing it with complex conjuring tricks.

      Modern (fashionable) economics is largely voodoo science.

      • HookesLaw

        No your comment is total rubbish. ‘needs desires and motivations’? Glib rubbish.
        This might have something to do with marketing or entrepreneurship or indeed politics, but not economics.
        Where does ‘affordability’ come into this? Where is the velocity of circulation?

        • Makroon

          Hooky, economics was formerly known as ‘political economy’.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      So if global warmingism is so “hyped-up and overrated”, then why are you Camerloons so in lust with that insanity?

      You Camerluvvies make the blogger’s point, about both economists and global warmingists.

      • Wilhelm

        The New World Order wants the Earths population down to 500 million, they mask this for their ‘concern’ ( deception ) for the environment.

        beforeitsnews.com/politics/2013/03/nwo-agenda-21-misson-statement-goal-depopulation-of-the-earth-to-500-million-people-video-2499704.html

        • Daniel Maris

          OK, I’m signing up for the NWO then. Sounds like a very sensible policy. What’s not to like? I thought you Na-zis were all into population reduction.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …well judging by your previous comments about disposing with the old and sick, lad, you’d be right there with them.

          • Wilhelm

            Maris, don’t be a supercilious halfwit all your life, just try, eh ?

          • Tom Tom

            How did you work that out Daniel ? The NSDAP had clear policies on families and paid family allowance before Britain ever did and the wives of German soldiers were far better cared for than in Britain. Book recommendation for you…..

            http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nazi-Family-Policy-1933-1945-Lisa/dp/1859739075

      • dalai guevara

        You know the answer.
        Because they are followers, not leaders. They follow others without understanding the issue, they take advice from kids, they analyse the opinion of cretins.
        You also understand and are fully aware that one term is sufficent to expose zero substance for what it is.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Can another of you socialist nutters translate this nutter’s gibberish?

          And can you sleuth this out, and determine the reason this gibberish gets tagged after my posts?

          • dalai guevara

            Global warmism is overhyped? No way! What next? There is no Santa? Oil is not running out? Tamagotchis cannot replace real pets? The iphone is not the best phone?

            Why don’t you go and educate yourself with regards to what “over-rating” and “hyped-up” really is, how it works, why it works? Then, and only then come back with your nutter nonsense.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              …but don’t bother translating this fresh gibberish.

              • dalai guevara

                Oh look, some have discovered a new phenomenon. The phenomenon of hype. Wow, how enlightening.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …nor this bit.

                • dalai guevara

                  Let’s toss a coin. Which bit will you bet on, tovarishch?
                  The socialist nutter side or the nutty socialising losses side?
                  I knew you were a tovarishch, my senses never fail me.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …nor this.

                • dalai guevara

                  The next hype coming up: bitcoin, and the tovarishch loves it!
                  Wow, you remain consistently inconsistent, that’s why we like you, matey. A nutter never getting anything right.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …and this gibberish is just plain untranslatable.

  • Obvious really

    I was always taught that the easiest way to fail an Economics Examination was to answer the question.

    • telemachus

      That is because you do not espouse the economic philosophy of Robet Owen

      • Wilhelm

        Did you have a ”white” Christmas ?

        • telemachus

          I had an integrated Christmas Day in Maragua near Nairobi with folks from England, Kenya and South Africa
          It was strange to be singing Carols in shorts
          But enjoyable
          How about you?

          • Colonel Mustard

            Check your privileges, troll. I always suspected you were a privileged champagne socialist, espousing Stalin and the Comintern whilst living a privileged middle-class champagne socialist life, no doubt taxpayer funded. Just like all the other socialist fakes infesting and blighting England.

            • telemachus

              I guess the point is that most around here have lost the concept of philanthropy, noblesse oblige and generally Christian care for those less fortunate than themselves

              • Colonel Mustard

                You don’t know that. You have no point. You are again conflating politics and morality. You have no idea how those commenting here and who do not conform to your cant might care. Just because you constantly boast about it doesn’t mean others should do the same.

                You are a presumptuous little man with far too much hubris, far too much to say for yourself and far too little humility.

          • HookesLaw

            he had a white-sheet-over-the-head christmas.

            • Daniel Maris

              He danced naked around the tree and chanted the praise of Wotan – as an advanced member of the Germanic race.

              • Wilhelm

                Hmm, very ” amusing,” on a serious note, Daniel, check out what ”our” ruling elite who want the New World Order do at Bohemian Grove. I think the expression is WTF.

                I did like David Gergin, advisor to Bush and Clinton being confronted, his face was a picture.

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JlFZJr8ENQ

                • Daniel Maris

                  Well the video is a bit of a mish mash but as a matter of principle I oppose all secret societies especially amongst those who hold high public office. So I don’t dissent from the general thrust that the Bushes of this world should not be members of silly secret mutual aid societies…because there is no knowing at what point silly becomes sinister.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …as you NSDAPers well know.

      • Obvious really

        He never took an Economics Examination, which proves my point.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        zzzzzzzzz……………zzzzzz

        • telemachus

          No
          Friedrich Hayek and his school will send you to sleep
          And are dangerous

          • Colonel Mustard

            You should read what he wrote about your silly “reasonableness” argument.

          • HJ777

            If Hayek sends you to sleep then he is doing everyone a favour.

      • Daniel Maris

        Wash your mouth out Tele – Robert Owen was a moral and practical genius among men. Not for the likes of you to claim him for your own disturbed imagingings.

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