Tuesday 1 June 2021

Economics is B.S., and Clever People Haven't a Clue

I'm sorry, but macro economics just ain't a respectable discipline.

Read this long piece from the highly regarded Chris Dillow - manifestly a very smart guy** and admirably balanced in his pronouncements - and tell me any politician has a hope in Hell of figuring out from it what to do next, by way of some kind of logical conclusion.  One the one hand.  On the other.  Maybe.  But, but, but.  Maybe not.

Nope, there's no chance that intelligent people can be expected to agree on how to interpret a given set of facts by the lights of macro economics.

The human condition.  Outside of the hard sciences, smart people see no reason to agree on very much at all.  And then they wonder why people like Corbyn and Johnson get to the top.



**OK, he says he's a marxist, I know.


Don Cox said...

I think economics based on a study of human nature can give a reasonably good explanation of what has happened so far. I don't think you can then predict the future more than a few days ahead.

Marxists seem to believe that there are rigid laws that determine the course of history. There's far too much chaos and chance for that to be true.

I find the phrase "people like Corbyn and Johnson" strange. I suppose they both have two legs, but otherwise two more different characters it would be hard to find.

Don Cox

Anonymous said...

The first installment of the butcher's bill for the UK's Covid response is about to arrive. The mainstream media -- as usual, about a year behind everyone else -- has cottoned onto the fact that we're about to have a cancer calamity on our hands as a direct result of government policy:


The government is responsible for this in two ways:

1. SPI-B's organized, systematic attempt to terrify the public has made people afraid to enter hospitals;
2. The government has removed resources from a disease with a 0% (give or take) survival rate in order to fret about one with a 99.9% (give or take) rate.

As a reminder, all-cause mortality per head of population (age-adjusted) was less in 2020 than in 2008.


dearieme said...

Macroeconomics is tosh. Microeconomics isn't.

I've known that for decades - hasn't everyone who's been paying attention?

Put another way: if macroeconomics was too hard for such a very clever chappy as Maynard Keynes, it's much too hard for the pygmies who succeeded him.

Nick Drew said...

@ "people like Corbyn and Johnson" ... I suppose they both have two legs, but otherwise two more different characters it would be hard to find

Don, the similarity (IMHO) is that they are both disgraceful people by any standards and deeply unsuited to the role, and yet idolised and promoted to it by (a sector of) the electorate based essentially on one attractive character trait and some broad political orientation

Elby the Beserk said...

Not for nothing is it known as "The dismal science".

Closest I got to it was a "B" for "A" level Economics, back in 1976 (all Keynesian monetary theory". Oh and my best mate at The Leys School was one JMK's great nephews. And his Mum a direct descendant of a bloke called Darwin.

Got to meet JMK's missus, Lydia Lopokova, the ballerina, and a host of other Cambridge illuminati around their dinner table. Noel Annan another, I also recall dining with the Rothschilds up the road, one Jonathan Dimbleby being another guest. Why? Because I was dating Victoria Rothschild, who was a friend of my mate. What fun!

Odd part of my past, which I rather treasure.

andrew said...

Macroeconomics is not tosh.
It is there to keep lots of smart people occupied.
Those smart people are arts graduates who pretend they know some maths (they even have a term for it - mathification)
The ones who were too clever for History and thought PPE was too light weight.

We can see the destruction caused by the PPE / History people (cummings, johnson...)
Just think how much worse it would be if we had macroeconomists in power
... oh the rationality

Don Cox said...

"both disgraceful people by any standards and deeply unsuited to the role"

If we insist on people being perfectly suited to the role of Prime Minister, we could be without one for a long time. Which PMs do you think have been good enough ?

In a representative democracy, the country is run by real people, not ideal people. I don't think the current Chinese system of government by the most highly qualified is better.

I think the best thing about Boris is that he has a sense of humour and can laugh at himself. The worst thing about Corbyn is that, like most (all?) Marxists, he has no sense of humour.

Don Cox

Elby the Beserk said...

Corbyn? Misguided, juvenile, nasty anti-semite. That the taxpayer gets to funhd him doing f*** all except bang on about Palestine, and then we get to provide him with a very handy pension for a lifetime attacking a country that has fed him., clothed him and looked after him for as far as I can see - NOTHING in return. Just ask his constituents.

Don Cox said...

Andrew: "Macroeconomics is not tosh.
It is there to keep lots of smart people occupied."

A replacement for Theology ?

Don Cox

andrew said...

Rules for life thatvwould work if only people behaved as they should as defined by the priests.

lilith said...

What is everybody's favourite economics truism? Is it that there's x-mas/new year share price bounce? Or that there's one group of people that will always be with us no matter what the economy does....the filthy rich?

Sebastian Weetabix said...

Despite his obvious failings (quite thick & humourless, apart from apparently being an anti-Semite) Corbyn’s constituents seem to rather like him. They have been re-electing him for nearly 40 years.