Komu potrzebna jest ekonomia, czyli nowa debata o roli ekonomistów

Rozgorzała dyskusja na temat sensowności przyznawania Nobla ekonomistom, a wraz z nią - na temat roli ekonomistów we współczesnym świecie. Po co nam ekonomia, jeśli nie pomaga  walczyć z biedą, tylko dzieli włos na czworo - pyta w dwu tekstach prof. Michael Hudson - w odświeżonym z 1970 r.  i całkiem nowym, napisanym kilka dni temu. Do dyskusji włącza się prof. Paul Krugman, którego adwersarzem jest prof. Randal Wray z University of Missouri. Debata chwilami staje się bardzo gorąca. Ekonomiści przypominają swoje opinie. A na Washington Blog coś dla zainteresowanych upadkiem prasy drukowanej: czy warto pieniędzmi podatnika wykupywać zagrożone media?

Po śmierci prof. Paula Samuelsona, pierwszego ekonomisty amerykańskiego  nagrodzonego Noblem, powróciła debata na temat roli i odpowiedzialności ekonomistów. Ożywia  ją odświeżony, obszerny i ciekawy artykuł Michaela Hudsona „Elegant theories that didn’t work – Problem with Paul Samuelson” z 1970 r., w którym autor kwestionuje, że ekonomia jest nauką:

Of course it is implemented in practice, but with a noteworthy lack of success in recent years on the part of all the major economic schools, from the post-Keynesians to the monetarists. (…) In Mr. Samuelson’s case, for example, the trade policy that follows from his theoretical doctrines is laissez faire. That this doctrine has been adopted by most of the western world is obvious. That it has benefited the developed nations is also apparent. However, its usefulness to less developed countries is doubtful, for underlying it is a permanent justification of the status quo: let things alone and everything will (tend to) come to „equilibrium”.

Hudson stawia też bardzo poważne pytanie:

Can it be „scientific” to promulgate theories that do not describe economic reality as it unfolds in its historical context, and which lead to economic imbalance when applied?

Hudson kwestionował też przydatność teorii Samuelsona, argumentując, że są statyczne, a świat dynamiczny. I że „jeszcze w tej dekadzie będzie mieć miejsce rewolucja”, która owe teorie obali.

Until it is agreed what economics is, or should be, it is as fruitless to award a prize for „good economics” as to award an engineer who designed a marvelous machine that either could not be built or whose purpose was unexplained. The prize must thus fall to those still lost in the ivory corridors of the past, reinforcing general equilibrium economics just as it is being pressed out of favor by those striving to restore the discipline to its long-lost pedestal of political economy.

W obronie prof. Samuelsona stanął jego uczeń prof. Paul Krugman, twierdząc, że instytucjonalna ekonomia, którą opisywał Hudson, została przejęta przez ekonomię modeli wskutek Wielkiego Kryzysu.

Faced with the Depression, institutional economics turned out to have very little to offer, except to say that it was a complex phenomenon with deep historical roots, and surely there was no easy answer. Meanwhile, model-oriented economists turned quickly to Keynes — who was very much a builder of little models. And what they said was, „This is a failure of effective demand. You can cure it by pushing this button”. The fiscal expansion of World War II, although not intended as a Keynesian policy, proved them right.

Jednak prof. L. Randay Wray z University of Missouri przekonuje przy pomocy kilku argumentów, że Krugman się myli. Zauważa np., że Keynes opublikował swoją teorię po Wielkim Kryzysie.

Samuelson’s „button” approach to dealing with the business cycle has been thoroughly discredited since the late 1960s—when he announced that we would never have another recession. In truth, as Minsky argued, it is not possible to „fine-tune” the economy because „stability is destabilizing”. The simplistic „Keynesian” approach propagated by the likes of Samuelson leaves out the behavioral and institutional analysis that is necessary to deal with instability and crisis.

W odpowiedzi na argumentację prof. Krugmana prof. Hudson opublikował nowy tekst, w którym zaostrza swoją krytykę. I twierdzi, że kiepska inżynieria zamieniła ekonomię w ćwiczenia z gatunku public relations:

It was largely to counter criticisms of their unearned income and wealth, after all, that the post-classical reaction aimed to limit the conceptual „toolbox” of economists to become so unrealistic, narrow-minded and self-serving to the status quo. It has ended up as an intellectual ploy to distract attention away from the financial and property dynamics that are polarizing our world between debtors and creditors, property owners and renters, while steering politics from democracy to oligarchy.

O tym, jak gorąca może to być debata, świadczy wpis Playing the Devil’s Advocate, który nawet nieco przerysowuje problem i przyrównuje ekonomistów do nowej kasty kapłanów, czyniąc aluzję do grupy rządzącej w czasach Faraonów:

Belief in the ability of ‘experts’ to consistently predict the future is a popular and dangerous delusion. As anyone with a stash of old magazines, newspaper clippings or webpage caches can verify, anointed ‘experts’ are more likely to be wrong about the future than a wild guess by laymen.

W tej debacie Washington Blog przypomina bardzo ciekawą, wcześniej wypowiedzianą opinię w tym kontekście. Także w tym miejscu arcyinteresujący wpis na temat przyczyn upadku drukowanej prasy codziennej. Tu także kolejny głos w dyskusji, czy bankrutujące powinne być wspomagane pieniędzmi z podatnika – wszystko nie tylko z punktu widzenia ekonomisty:

But the newspapers have largely driven themselves into the ground with their never-ending drive for higher profits, which led to a reduction in news bureaus, investigation and real reporting, and an increase in reliance on government and corporate press releases.


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