God created economists to make weather forecasters look good

October 27, 2008 8:05am CST
We all know how accurate the weather forecasts are, comedians have made careers out of it (well, the odd skit anyway), and they could be the model for all those people who claim to be experts but invariably get it wrong. I have been watching the various news reports on the economic crisis, featuring internationally known economists down to local TV finacial editors and everything in between. Like just about anybody who is watching these reports I am bewildered, because all of them have different ideas on what is right, what is wrong, what will happen, even what HAS happened. Economists claim their discipline is mathematical, scientific, and logical. Indeed, it is the most obsessively rationalistic (which ain't actually the same as rational) of all the social sciences, and its greatest awards are often given to those whose mathematical rigour is the greatest. And theses mathematical geniuses see human beings as simply numbers in the equations. For instance, Nobel Prize winner Becker (1976), described marriage as "an arrangement to secure the mutual benefit of exchange between two agents of different endowments", and love as "a non-marketable household commodity". Another, Arthur Lewis, put forward the proposition that inequality is essential to economic strength and prosperity. So how come they have got it so wrong? It is the economists who provide advice to governments, financial industries, banks, and international agencies and so forth. How come, if economics is such a rational mathematical science, there are so many competing factions within the discipline? (It reminds me of the competing environmental paradigms - yes there is global warming, no there isn't global warming.) After all, you can't argue maths - 2=2 = 4. Radical economists, particularly Green economists, have been predicting this collapse for years. They might not have got the exact manner of the collapse right, usually suggesting the derivatives market as the weak point, and as far as I know none of them set a date (beyond suggesting early in the 21st Century), but they got it right in general terms. They have been saying for decades that infinite growth in a finite system is simply unworkable. And the mathematical, mainstream free enterprise economic rationalists (the economic fundamentalists) have continued to push growth as the main element in any business/national economy. Who has been proven right? But who has had the power to get their policies implemented? And who is paying for their error? Lash
2 people like this
2 responses
@xfahctor (14126)
• Lancaster, New Hampshire
27 Oct 08
There aren't many times I agrea with you, but this is one such time. Predicting precise economic turns and events is not only mathmatical and trend watching, but also involves a bit of voo-doo. It is far from an exact science, like weather poredicting. We have evolved a system that is complex far beyond our understanding, much like the systems taht influence weather. Ther have been a number of people who have been watching things and did in fact predict this exact sort of crisis, based on events and the very existence of the system we evolved in to. The creation of the federal reserve and the debasing of our system of currency was something that people warned against many years ago. but to try and peg exactly how this demise and the details and such are going to be nearly impossible to call as they involve so many players and systems. There are those here who advocate a return to the simpler system we had with a few modern updates,
• Australia
28 Oct 08
On the whole I'd have to say that although you also don't have much time for economists, you still haven't found anything to agree with me on, because your reasons are a world away from mine. It's not federal reserves and 'debasing' of the currency that has caused our problems, it's the lack of responsible regulation and oversight by government and an economic ideology that positively encourages greed and unethical investment. Lash
1 person likes this
@sweety_81 (2125)
• India
21 Apr 09
Hi , I think that the economists got too good a share of the news so far . They should not enjoy so much limelight .They also need to be more practical and think in terms of simpler theories ;which common men could also understand .