It’s Time To Give Up On Mainstream Economics

Monday, December 5, 2011
By Paul Martin

by ChrisMartenson

It’s Time To Give Up On Mainstream Economics

Few modern economists would, for example, monitor the behaviour of Procter and Gamble, assemble data on the market for steel, or observe the behaviour of traders. The modern economist is the clinician with no patients, the engineer with no projects. ~ John Kay, from The Map is Not the Territory: An Essay on the State of Economics, October 2011

I’m not quite sure what a depression is. ~ Martin Feldstein, in an interview with Kelly Evans of the Wall Street Journal, October 2011

Prior to 2008 it was generally understood that the profession hardly merited its claims of its own predictive utility. So the failure to assign enough risk to such a crisis as befell the developed world in 2008 was, frankly, no surprise. But in the aftermath of the crisis, economics, in its professional form, has revealed itself to be damagingly disconnected from observable reality.

A glaring example of this is how it cannot come to any agreement as to how the debt crisis occurred, and accordingly remains quite confused in its proffered solutions.

Mostly the profession remains curiously naive about the nature of debt, an understanding of which is more critical than ever as the developed world enters a ‘slow’ to ‘no-growth’ phase of its history. Indeed, many of the papers, interviews, and op-eds from central bankers and economists in the face of our present-day sovereign debt crisis are little more than an eerie restatement of the discussions which took place about private-sector debt from 2006-2008.

For a profession tasked with the analysis of dynamic systems, modern economics can be ploddingly linear. And for a profession supposedly guided by math, the descent into “sociology lite” is all too routine. One of the more consistent errors (or nervous tics, if you will) comes in the area of scale and proportion. A favorite and most astonishing example for me remains former Dallas Fed President Bob McTeer’s explanation of the cause of the 2008 crisis. Writing in his blog at the end of 2009, McTeer set out to defend the US Federal Reserve for its role in the catastrophe:

The Rest…HERE
A Failure To See the Obvious

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