For all the enjoyment I receive from reading Nicholas Kristof (see my previous post), he certainly does not have everything quite right. Mark Engler [ht:cr] points out how mistakenly placed is Kristof’s praise of the economics profession:
No matter how disastrously myopic they might be, it seems that economists can do no wrong in the eyes of many.
If there was one outcome of mainstream economists failing to recognize the multi-trillion dollar housing bubble of the past decade and being roundly blindsided by the most significant economic downturn in three-quarters of a century, you would think it would be a decrease in the amount of respect afforded to their “expert” opinions.
Instead, with a distressing lack of mea culpas, the economics profession — still dominated by neoclassical, “free market” assumptions — continues its march of progress. Ever greater swaths of public life and democratic decision making are handed over to economists, and they continue to fearlessly propagate the idea that they are the right technocrats to get the job done.
Now, globetrotting liberal Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times has decided to give them a hand. In his column, “Getting Smart on Aid,” he offers — without irony or any mention of recent blemishes on their record — “a paean to economists.”
If our society’s alternative to irrelevant political scientists is letting economists take over the university, I’d say we’re in big trouble.
What Engler is especially attuned to is the economic’s professions unwillingness to admit any culpability for the ongoing financial crisis. In fact, many economists are already in denial that anything much went wrong or that anything has to change. So yes, Engler is right: we are in big trouble.