Category Archives: Economists

24/11/15: Captured Economics and the Victim State

Per Simon Wren-Lewis: “…Perhaps the problem at the heart of the Eurozone is that economic policy advice in Germany has been effectively captured by employers' interests, and perhaps the interests of banks in particular.” (source here)

For one caveat: economics as profession has been largely captured by the state.

The European states are, of course, themselves have been captured by corporatist interests, including (but not limited to) those of big businesses and banks. One can make a similar argument about other (non-European) states too. Which makes the capture of economists by business only a part of that more corroded chain, and not an exclusive part. Otherwise, how can one explain that it is State-employed economists and State-aligned economists (with State boards positions and State research contracts) that so vocally defend the very same corporate welfare that Simon Wren-Lewis seems to correctly worry about?

My view on the subject was covered here:

In simple terms, enough whitewashing the State as a victim of business interests - instead, time to see the State as a willing participant in a corporatist system that allows capture of policy development and implementation mechanisms and institutions by vested interests that define the State.

21/11/15: Be Kind to Economic Forecasting Dodos…

Oh, spare a kind thought for the economists... crippled by the intellectual feebleness of algebraic (and utterly useless) models and hamstrung by the need to sell 'good news' to naive retail clients pounded by the sell-side 'research', they have it tough in this life. And the things are going to get tougher.

So far, in anticipation of the U.S. Fed hikes, virtually all economics analysts working for sell-side stuff brokers have been declaring their firm conviction that once the Fed raises rates, things are going to be off to a neatly clean start - the U.S. economy will shake off any risks to growth, while the Euro area economy will get a devaluation boost from stronger dollar.

Which, by the way, may or may not happen, but as Reuters article (link here) clearly shows, it wouldn't be the economists crowd that will have any idea what is going to happen.

Here are two charts from Reuters:

Now, give this a thought: 2014 and 2015 were relatively 'trend' years for the U.S. economy. And yet, in both cases, analysts surveyed by Reuters vastly, massively, grossly missed the boat on their forecasts. The dodos did predict back in January 2015 that 1Q 2015 growth will be 2.8%, missing the mark by 3 percentage points. And they did chirp out a forecast of 2.5% growth for 1Q 2014 back in January 2014, missing the reality by a massive 5.4 percentage points.

And to give you some more flavour, here is a summary of IMF forecasts for advanced economies (not just the U.S.):

Which confirms the aforementioned truth: economic forecasts ain't got a clue where the major advanced economies are heading, with or without Fed rate hikes.

It would be laughable, if this was not serious: the same types of economists inhabit the forecasting halls of the Fed, providing 'technical (mis-)guidance' to the FOMC on which the decision to hike rates will be made. In other words, the blind are driving, the deaf are navigating them and we are all the passengers on their happy runaway train.

So buckle up. When Fed hikes rates, things might go smooth or they might go rough - we just don't know. But we do know as much: all these economic forecasters have not a clue what will happen...