The importance of ignoring economists

One of my already broken new year’s resolutions was to stop worrying about the economy.  This is on the grounds that I’m occupied pretty full-time worrying about things  in my own life that I can at least hope to change, without putting in extra hours fretting about things that  are beyond my control.

It’s quite hard not to worry about UKPlc’s GDP, though, especially if you’re woken every morning  by the massed doom-mongers of the Today programme (I loved  Chris Addison’s description of Today this weekend as: “Grumpy Old Men without jokes. If Today had a face it would look like Walter Matthau sucking a lemon”, and so it would)

So, when I am overwhelmed by the looming disasters and scary predictions about interest rates being peddled by Humphrys et al, I will try to remember this:

The future  performance of the economy, the passage from good times to recession or depression and back, cannot be foretold.  There are more than ample predictions but no firm knowledge.  All contend with a diverse combination of uncertain government action, unknown corporate and individual behaviour and, in the larger world, with peace or war.  Also with unforeseen technological and other innovations and consumer and investment responses.  There is the variable effect of exports, imports, capital movements and corporate, public and government reaction thereto.  Thus the all too evident fact: the combined result of the unknown cannot be known.

That’s JK Galbraith , who knew what he was talking about, on economists.   He seems to agree with my friend Philomene – although in rather more thoughtful language.  “Economics a science?” she once screeched at me in  disbelief.  “Witchcraft is more scientific!”

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One response to “The importance of ignoring economists

  1. The Line To Take

    It is very unwise to think about economics if you are depressed. Not for nothing is it called “the dismal science”. Even Keynes could only give the consolation that “in the long run, we are all dead.”
    This is most salutary warning I know of the perils of combining depression and economics:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Places_in_The_Hitchhiker's_Guide_to_the_Galaxy#Shoe_Event_Horizon
    Just as well that the book which contains this also includes one of the most helpful pieces of advice for these troubled times, printed in large, friendly letters on the cover: “Don’t Panic!”

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