Philip Stephens (Opinion, February 19) holds economists chargeable for a long time of unsuccessful financial insurance policies primarily based on “complicated mathematical equations that nobody, least of all democratically elected politicians, dared problem”. However his assertion relies on two misconceptions.
First, he assumes there’s a single economists’ place on what are applicable authorities insurance policies. However there’s all the time an energetic (and typically bitter) dispute over macroeconomic insurance policies. Paul Krugman and Larry Summers, for instance, are presently divided over the Biden administration’s fiscal proposals. Jeffrey Sachs and Joseph Stiglitz strongly opposed the insurance policies that the IMF linked to their programmes through the Asian disaster of 1997-98, whereas Simon Wren-Lewis argued in opposition to the UK authorities’s flip in the direction of austerity after the worldwide monetary disaster.
Second, the picture of politicians passively accepting the agency instruction of economists bears no relation to actuality. The Republicans within the US who opposed President Obama’s stimulus insurance policies voiced considerations over deficits and debt and cited economists who shared such worries to offer help. As soon as President Trump was within the White Home and tax cuts have been on the desk, they rapidly shifted place. Now that one other Democratic president has been elected, apprehensions over authorities debt have re-emerged.
A greater depiction of the ties between politicians and economists can be of politicians utilizing economists (and journalists?) to justify agendas primarily based on partisan considerations and the calls for of their donors.
Joseph P Joyce
M Margaret Ball Professor of Worldwide Relations, Division of Economics, Wellesley School, MA, US