Economists take over the Internet


This page in:

The debate/celebrity economist deathmatch between Jeff Sachs and Bill Easterly continues to sizzle. (Click here for an earlier round.)

Speaking of Easterly, he's wrapping up an online debate on the effectiveness of foreign aid with Steve Radelet over at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Also, today's the last day to submit your questions for Jagdish Bhagwati. He'll be answering them next week on IHT's Managing Globalization blog.

Join the Conversation

Don Robertson
December 01, 2006

Yes, I have a question for Jagdish Bhagwati. It's rather long, but bear with me. I make a statement, and then I ask two questions.

I have been reading lately too much of this analysis about how the dollar will apocalypse into a downward spiral bankrupting the U.S. and the result will push the American people into a near stone age economy and existence.

Those who predict such a Second Coming usually give us a due date with which we can check the accuracy of their predictions, but not so with the Dictatorship of the Marketplace old world economists who have been making the same prediction at least as long as there has been good economic history to read about concerning the U.S.

These economic end of the worlders tell us over and over again, everything needed for their predicted economic apocalypse is already in place. Well, if so, where is the end-day? Did we drive through it like a small town already? Why did it not come with all that purportedly adds up to it?

The dollar seems to me that it is like air to the world economy. I see no alternative. And there is no alternative mentioned by these economists who archaically advocate the gold standard, the silver standard, or just believing in their prophetic preaching because they have said, what they have said, over and over again. The boys in economics are crying, Wolf! again. So what? If there ever was an economist who ran a successful business, it's an unknown fact.

A lot of currency speculators, amongst which are now the Chinese by their currency diversification, have made a lot of money buying dollars when others sought to sell them low. Buy low, sell high, right? Which of course raises the questions, Who could benefit from the collapse of the dollar? and, Who would get hurt? The answers are, No one, and, Everyone. And, the answer to the second question is far more telling.

Surely, those who acted financially foolishly during the housing boom will get hurt, there were lots of them, just as similar fools were hurt during the dot-com bust, there were lots of them too, and in both instances there were lots of these other fools too, the economic apocalypse preachers, that is. Irrational exuberance, eh? How much more clear does that neeed to be? Greenspan was right. Humans are prone to it in both directions.

But the U.S. economy is strong, the dollar is strong, and the sky is not falling, at least not due to Greenspan's expansionist fed policies, per se.

The real problem that causes all these apocalyptic predictions to repeatedly gain anyone's ear, is the surer sense and intuition that the ideas of expansion, progress, and even the idea of a strong economy don't add up when we feel intuitively the world's standard of living is slipping, even during the boom periods, perhaps moreso then if it's your neighborhood that is being sprawled into the adjoining sprawl.

But, this is a problem with which no one has come to grips with, yet.

Some day soon, philosophers will set forth the counteractive premise that economists have debased the world by their deceptions, that the economic measures of economy have had some real human meaning that could add up to a betterment of life. Economic policies have not given the human world a betterment of its human condition.

It simply isn't true that economics has improved the lives of those coming into this world in the future. There is no such progress. It has all been a continual downward slide into a worsening human condition regardless of economic policies, progress, good economies or bad.

Any belief in current economic theories will provide nothing more than, more of the same.

Buying into what economists of any creed have been telling us, is like going to the local convenience store and buying a lottery ticket. If you think about it with due diligence, you know you're going to come up a loser. The odds are simply set up to ensure that you do lose.

It's not a question of the Dictatorship of the Marketplace, versus the Dictatorship of the Proletariate either. Either way despite the promises of Utopia on each side of that wooden nickle, you have to know, economics as preached by the economists is as sure a loser as there is in life. These economic analysts as selling something very akin to old time religion. They are all sideshow hucksters. Such as it is with the advocates of most belief systems dreamed up by humans, passed around mouth to ear, or as it comes to us from the past written in the words of the past, words that generally have no static meaning.

Our notion of the word, progress, is faulty. It has a economic notion now, one fostered by economists of every ilk. All the money in the world hasn't made the world a better place no matter by whose economic policies or theories all that money is purported, planned or simply allowed to go around.

What is clearly missing is exactly what economics purports it is not about, a moral justification for human actions in the field of economics.

The moral imperative of life is to live a life that detracts not at all from the lives available to those who will follow us into this world. That is human truth. It is not however, ecompassed in any theory of economics.

In my research for this article, I was astonished at the number of economists who told me, man connot live without consuming, and thus taking away from that which might be available to the future. What have we become that there are those who believe we must destroy the world to live?

To them, I have responded, the moral imperative implies we can leave the world better than we found it. Plant an apple tree.

But I want to know, how does Jagdish Bhagwati see the effect of current economic policies and belief playing out in the future?

What will the future economists are leading us into look like, Jagdish Bhagwati?