Wednesday, January 6, 2016

If you want to be heard, blame politicians, economists and Europe

One of the interesting aspects of the critique of Steven Durlauf and a colleague to Thomas Piketty was that the French economist jumped into the bandwagon of criticizing his own profession. Economists are one of the most impopular jobs these days, so it makes you popular to say something against them generically. There is little doubt that many economists are incompetent, but it is also true that many others are excellent scholars and that many of them try to push a social science that is more robust than other disciplines that enjoy much more popularity. A debate on how to make economics better as a scientific discipline is more than welcome, but this does not justify the kind of econo-phobia that we sometimes observe. Another variant of the same trend is to blame politicians for any bad thing. This is an old tradition; the Spanish dictator Franmcisco Franco used to say to people visiting him: "do like me, don't get involved in politics" (as my grandmother once told me). Recently, I came across an author (paradoxically, an economist) who criticized experts in general for their many mistakes, and that in a front page interview for a magazine she said that she didn't have any trust in politicians. That did not prevent her from appearing in photographs with former US president Bill Clinton or the Irish U2 singer Bono, a frequent company of some of the most powerful politicians on earth. Another sure route to fame these days in Europe is to criticize Europe itself, to dwell into the inability of the European Union to show a common strategy on a variety of things. Of course, the European Union is lacking in many aspects, but the solution to many of the current problems surely has to do with more and not less Europe. I cannot thing of a better world without good economists, good politicians and a more united Europe.

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