Saturday, April 11, 2009

Economists & the recession

One of the consequences (co-morbidities perhaps..) of the recession is the rise to prominence of economics & economists in Irish public life. Normally we enjoy a distinct obscurity but economists are now front page stuff, the subject of media profiles, a slightly higher role in government and the source of numerous quotes. One might take a certain pride that economists are the new rock stars. It is perhaps opportune to reflect on this new found status. For that reason it is worth reading an interesting piece in last Tuesday's Irish Times by Fintan O'Toole censuring stockbroker economists in Ireland for their conduct particularly in the last days of the "Celtic Tiger" [link below].
It is, in my view, a fair criticism. My only problem is that he doesn't go far enough.

The same point could be made of most, or all, of the economists working in financial institutions and the property sector here like the banks, building societies and estate agents. They all, it seemed to me, queued up to serve as cheerleaders for the property bubble. Whether they are fools or knaves is an interesting, albeit moot, point. What it is particularly galling is to see some of these so-called "leading economists" re-inventing (or re-deeming?) themselves as experts on health, taxation and anything else. Hopefully policy makers and the public generally will realise what their credability is (zero).
Independent economists, you may remember, who pointed out that the property market was a bubble & was going to burst were derided of course (I was not one incidentally).

link to article here

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