Monday, June 14, 2010

Pen Meets Paper June 14 '10

Opinion by Helge Nome
The eyes of most people glaze over when the word “economics” appears before them.
Intuitively, “economics” belongs in the world of eggheads and the like. Economists are people who construct elaborate theories based on countless charts, graphs and tables.
And their one claim to fame is that history usually proves them wrong. Economists have a lot to learn from the Greek Oracle of Delphi, to whom budding warlords came to find out about the fates of their adventures: The message was likely that someone would win and someone would loose (read my lips). And since the looser was very unlikely to lodge a complaint against fees charged, due to capitation, being an oracle was a relatively safe occupation.
Economists, on the other hand, live in a very insecure world. They tend to survive each unpredicted financial crisis based on a fatalistic sense of humor. When asked a couple of years ago by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth: “But didn’t you see this crisis coming?”,
highly paid economists from the London School of Economics answered. “Sorry ma’am, we didn’t”, like a bunch of school boys (which is exactly what they are and don’t mind admitting it).
In a way, economists and politicians ride in the same chariot together: They are the object of public scorn and head shaking and so successfully divert the public mind from the real underlying issues of the day.
And in economics there are some very real issues ahead that we will collectively have to face, like it or not. The fabled economic recovery is just not happening. The economic engine is spluttering, running out of monetary stimulus fuel injected by our governments who have borrowed privately created money at interest for the purpose. So now the budget deficits are rising rapidly, bringing forth the slash and burn mentality, once again.
Economists, living in their familiar fairy land of rising graphs look, as always, for positive signs and talk them up when they see them. The stock and money market speculators follow suit and up go the numbers. Until the next panic, that is. And so it goes. Greed and fear, bull versus bear. A life in a primitive land of craving and suffering. Some would call it the world of the animal.
Does it have to be that way? Not for a minute. Contrary to popular belief our financial system is not some kind of natural phenomenon like the weather. It is designed and maintained by humans who have a vested interest in making us believe that it is, indeed, something out of reach to change. Then these same people can continue to benefit from the wild oscillations of the system at our expense while our egghead economists fail to predict the next crisis. Come to think of it, chickens have their origins in eggs. They are also herd animals with no claim to intellectual brilliance.
Perhaps the term “egghead” has something going for it?

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