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Samuel Brittan

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"Economists shuffle the deckchairs"

On a visit to the London School of Economics last November, the Queen asked why no one saw the financial crisis coming. For if people with enough authority and influence had foreseen it, some preventive action would have been taken and either the crisis would not have occurred, or it would at least have taken a different form.
Samuel Brittan, FT, August 6 2009

The result was a letter to Her Majesty by Professors Tim Besley and Peter Hennessy purportedly summarising the views of the participants.
Although I was listed as an attendee, I have to dissociate myself from the views expressed.

Their usual response is that most of the time they get it reasonably right. But what matters is whether they can identify significant turning points and systemic failures in good time. They cannot.

This does not mean the subject is valueless. Evolutionary biologists cannot predict the future of the human race, even though some novelists, such as H.G. Wells, have tried.

US-style mainstream economics. An excellent introduction to the best of these ideas can be found in Partha Dasgupta’s contribution to the Oxford University Press Very Short Introduction series, published in 2007 just before the present crisis. He hardly mentions macroeconomics and presents mathematical and statistical findings in straightforward prose.

Full text

It's like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic

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