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Debunking the debunker

Paul Goodman at Conservative Home has spotted an opportunity to debunk the 100 signature strong letter to the Observer, which calls for a Plan B for the economy.

His debunking has nothing to do with the substance of the letter. Perhaps the Tories at Con Home have decided trying to defend Plan A on its own meritis is not a very good idea.  Instead he focuses on the fact that some of the 100 cannot be described as ‘leading economists’.

This is an odd argument, as no one in the actual letter claims to be a leading economist.

Goodman’s a bit confused, because the Observer headline, in the article which links to the letter, does refer to them as ‘leading economists’.  But inaccurate journalism is hardly the same as a whole range of academics and practitioners pretending to be ‘leading economists’ when they’re not.

I could develop the theme by arguing that economics is, in any event, such a degraded profession, that those who work in Economics Departments are absolutely right to reach out to other academic disciplines like philosophy, for support,  as they seek new remedies to the damaging orthodoxies of neoliberalism.  I could even quote one of the letter’s authors’ Ha-Joon Chang’ in my support:

[E]conomics has been worse than irrelevant. Economics, as it has been practised in the last three decades,has been positively harmful for most people (p .248).

But I won’t go on about it.  Regular readers of my stuff already know that, and visiting Tories simply won’t understand.



  1. Mike
    November 1, 2011 at 10:15 am

    The response, that the authors are not proper economists, was made to previous similar letters.
    “…those who work in Economics Departments are absolutely right to reach out to other academic disciplines like philosophy, for support, as they seek new remedies to the damaging orthodoxies of neoliberalism.”
    My impression is that this is not likely. It seems that academic economics in the UK:
    a) has no interest in and is of no use to real-world application. The application of economics is now performed by sociologists, etc.
    b) is entirely neoliberal in its ideology. Proponents of alternative approaches are barred from post-graduate studies and appointments.

    Fortunately, this is not the case in the US, where Krugman et al are especially scornful of Cameron, Osborne, the European Central Bank, etc.

  2. Mulder
    November 4, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I study economics and can see the previous poster is totally correct. 90% of what I’ve learnt is complete neoliberal propanganda, and is based on such faulty assumptions that I can’t believe anyone would buy this nonsense. Economics is simply a pseudoscience, no better than astrology. As well as protesting against the City of London, I’d suggest some of the protesters start occupying Economics departments, which provide the intellectual justification for the sort of policies that enrich the City of London.

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