Monday November 28, 2016
It's The Economists, Stupid
Interest rates. Unemployment. GDP. Markets. Austerity measures. Economists tell us what we, as societies, can and can't afford. But how do they decide? What values are at play? IDEAS producer Mary O'Connell speaks with two economists about how modern mantras on the economy limit our choices and shut down civic debate. **This episode first aired September 9, 2015.
Participants in this episode:
- Dr. Julie Nelson, Department Chair and Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Boston.
- Dr. Richard Denniss, Chief Economist, The Australia Institute, Canberra City, Australia.
As a group, economists don't have a great track record: they largely failed to predict the oil crisis of the 1970's, the dot-com bubble, the U.S. housing collapse. Even the O.E.C.D. -- the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development -- admits its forecasts have been way off. One of its staffers even conceded: "maybe we suffer from group think". Little wonder that economics has been known as "the dismal science" since the 19th century.
John Kenneth Galbraith once explained that, "Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment… for economists". However, there are deeper, more serious fissures. Economists explain how the turbulence of housing markets, mortgage rates, inflation and income inequality affect us all. But who are they speaking to and whom do they represent?
- Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough, by Richard Denniss and Clive Hamilton, Allen & Unwin, 2006.
- Economics for Humans, by Julie Nelson, University of Chicago Press, 2006.
- The Skeptical Economist: Revealing the Ethics Inside Economics, by Jonathan Aldred, Routledge, 2010.
- The Australia Institute
- Spreadsheets of Power: How economic modelling is used to circumvent democracy and shut down debate by Richard Denniss
- Of Clowns and Treasures: Joe Hockey and the myth of Coalition economic management by Richard Denniss
- Friends, countrymen, lend me your ores, opinion column by Richard Denniss, Canberra Times
- Don't Listen to Economists by Julie Nelson
- Why a Well-Paid Nurse is a Better Nurse by Julie Nelson and Nancy Folbre
**This episode was produced by Mary O'Connell