A mentira e a patologia política em Portugal
Etiquetas: A mentira e a patologia política em Portugal
Macro de grande, skopein de observar: observar o infinitamente grande e complexo. Tentar perceber por que razão a ave vive fascinada pela serpente que a paralisa e, afinal, faz dela a sua presa.
Etiquetas: A mentira e a patologia política em Portugal
I wasn't doing macroeconomic forecasting, and I never worked in finance. But am I still somehow to blame for the current crisis just because I'm an economist? Is it my fault? Has my profession, just by the way it thinks about the economy, caused all this damage? We have to ask ourselves this question, says Diane Coyle.
|any of the criticisms people now make of economics have been made in the past. The Post-Autistic or Real World Economics Movement has been gaining prominence, but it has been around for a long time. The difference now is that the crisis seems to be proof that the criticisms are true. They are not so easy now for the mainstream of the economics profession to shrug off. In fact, many economists are taking the critique very seriously. |
Yes, it is true that practitioners and policy makers acted as if the strong form of the Efficient Markets Hypothesis held true — in other words that prices instantly reflect all relevant information about the future — even though this clearly defies reality. The computer and communications technologies fed the trend as well, by making more and more financial transactions possible.
I think an honest, conventionally-trained economist has to at least acknowledge that we grew intellectually lazy about this. Although we all knew at some level that the rational choice assumption was being made to bear too much weight, very few economists openly challenged its everyday use in justifying public policy decisions. Very few of us put this weight on it in our own work. But not all that many economists challenged its pervasive use in the public policy world.
One result has been that many critics think all economists are right-wing free marketeers. The "Occupy" movements would blame economics for much more than just the financial crisis, in particular the much greater income inequality in almost all OECD economies now. Meanwhile, the evidence from surveys is that left-of-center economists outnumber right-of-center economists, although by much less than in the other social sciences.
Critics also dislike what they see as the reductionism of economics, the philosophy that the economy can be understood as the aggregation of individual profit-or income-maximizing decisions by independent economic agents. I think economists would acknowledge that there are definitely circumstances where this assumption is not valid, and it has been used as a matter of practicality, of simplicity. Again, though, it was very much taken for granted. The crisis, so strongly marked by herd behavior, firmly underlines its limitations.
There is a good reason for using these models, though. Because understanding and forecasting the aggregate behavior of millions of businesses and individuals is an impossibly hard task. It is much harder than long-range weather forecasting because it ought to incorporate the effects that individual decisions have on each other, and because it ought to incorporate expectations of the future into today's decisions.
Another problem is the economics curriculum in universities. In most cases, students are taught one macroeconomic worldview as if it were true, with no intellectual context, no history of economic thought. They learn almost nothing about economic institutions such as the banking system. They have little sense of economic history, which is usually not required now (although it used to be in many Ph.D. programs).
Economists have also come to have a particularly influential role in public policy, compared to other social scientists. (We have chief economists in most departments in the UK, but not chief anthropologists or chief psychologists.) Other social scientists of course give policy advice as well, but unlike economists they do not have specific roles in the administration.
It would be ironic, and regrettable, if the crisis causes people to distrust economics at exactly the time when it has more to offer. This is one reason that we economists have to put our house in order now, and acknowledge our collective faults. It's no good making criticisms without suggesting solutions, so here are a few reforms the discipline of economics needs:
1. You can predict a macroeconomist's political views from the confidence of his statements about the economy. They are bringing all of us into disrepute, and instead of going on TV to criticize the government or the opposition, they need to become more humble about what they know.
I hope that the crisis will strengthen economics by stimulating reform from within. Most economists are actually very practical, not just abstract theoretical people. They are passionate about using their knowledge to improve the world and keen to test their theories against the evidence. That is true even if the evidence sometimes needs knocking into shape before it confirms that the theory is correct.
When I was a Ph.D. student, access to both data and computer time was very costly. Sometimes, data had to be loaded by threading a big reel of magnetic tape into the computer. I had to write regression programs in Fortran, as the only commercial software available was quite limited. Each regression had to be run, one by one, overnight. One had to choose a thesis subject depending on whether or not any data would be accessible.
It wasn't until 1980 that there was data for a significant number of countries dating back at least half a century. (Previously, there had been about 30 annual measurements for a handful of countries.) It is hard to find definitive empirical results from so little data. No wonder economists have been overly focused on abstract models.
The situation has changed spectacularly in the past 20 years or so, thanks to the availability of new databases, the computer power to use them, and the statistical techniques to make valid inferences from different types and structures of data.
The revolution of using computers to process economic data and information, then, is transformational. But it is still in its infancy in terms of its eventual impact on the state of economic knowledge and the science of economics. And although there's no doubt that political ideology colors economists' work, fundamentally economics remains the same discipline it always was — the application of Enlightenment empiricism to human societies in order to understand how they allocate and use resources.
Etiquetas: Ouver Paul Krugman em Lisboa. Notas leves
Como devem estar equipadas para facilitar a vida aos cidadãos e às comunidades, às organizações sociais e às empresas de negócios que aí se procuram fixar para gerar riqueza, emprego e bem-estar.
Sem curar de saber destas condições e serviços não existem condições de progresso - material e espiritual - na vida das cidades no actual estádio de desenvolvimento em que estamos: acesso à habitação, serviços qualificados de educação, formação, saúde e cultura, lazer e desporto, condições de mobilidade, padrões urbanísticos, arquitectónicos e ambientais, segurança pública integram alguns dos requisitos que hoje fazem das cidades grandes cidades.
E como o Governo e o Estado, no seu sentido mais pleno, não estão em condições de pensar estas realidades, porque não têm recursos nem massa crítica, e também porque estão distantes das cidades do interior que já não conhecem, cabe às cidades, às regiões e aos territórios equacionar a gestão destas políticas de desenvolvimento do território, a fim de conferir a estas realidades económicas e identitárias uma importância que devem passar a ter, sob pena de Portugal agravar as assimetrias que hoje vão desnivelando cada vez mais o território nacional.
O Mapa da recessão em Portugal - (via Expresso)
Etiquetas: Cavaco = Desilusão
Etiquetas: Evocação de Ronald Reagan