Home > Uncategorized > [Opinion]How to rebuild a shamed subject

[Opinion]How to rebuild a shamed subject


Financial Times

By Robert Skidelsky

Published: August 5 2009 19:47 | Last updated: August 5 2009 19:47

Pinn illustration

It was to be expected that our present economic traumas would call into question the state of economics. “Why did no one see the crisis coming?”, Queen Elizabeth reportedly asked one practitioner. A seminar at the British Academy tried to answer and the FT has taken up the discussion.

The Queen’s question is understandable, given the subject’s claims on its own behalf. Ever since modern economics started in the 18th century it has presented itself as a predictive discipline, akin to a natural science. Since the future a year ago included the present slump, it is natural that the failure of the economics profession – with a few exceptions – to foresee the coming collapse should have discredited its scientific pretensions. Economics is revealed to have no more clothes than other social science. One cannot imagine the Queen in, say, nine months’ time, asking a leading political scientist: “Why did no one tell me that Labour was going to win the election?” She would understand that this was not a prediction that any political scientist could make with conviction, however much time he had spent studying present and past opinion polls.[full text, source]

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