We’re none of us expert as we think we are

If you’re in a professional body, you probably have to prove you’re continually trying to develop your skills, keep up to date with the latest techniques, assess the evidence. Or maybe it’s a big project, and at the end you review the outcomes, assess your methodology. Maybe you have an appraisal, which reflects on your performance and suiggests things you could improve upon, or new challenges. Or maybe, for personal pride, you try to be a bit better at everything than you were a year ago – learn something new, try something different.

This doesn’t happen to our elites. Once you’re in you’re in. No evidence of poor performance will ever confront you. Failures, oversights, scandals will blow in the breeze, forgotten like September’s leaves in the spring. Misdemeanors will be forgotten in short shrift. Even when uncovered, and discussed, they remain outside the radar of you, and can’t be seen to influence your career aspirations.

Lord Adair Turner was in the news a bit today, giving his views on the economy. Should we listen to him? He was Chairman of the FSA in 2008, and wasn’t aware of any of the scandals that have come to light since (LIBOR is the largest, but there may well be others). Whilst there, most of our banks only avoided going bust with the help of the taxpayers.

Given this catastrophic list of failure, should we listen to his views on economics? Lord Turner, like Mervyn King seems to live in a bubble, a bubble protecting them from reality and their own past failings. With every pronouncement they expect the Govt to jump to heel – “Come on George, put down the towels, this is the path”.

The views of these elite individuals are reported in every paper, but the views don’t make sense. It’s almost as if the Economic Elite, with access to the levers etc, all receive one pre-approved pamphlet a year on economic policy, (for 2013 it’s NGDP). There’s absolutely zero reference to alternative views, or critical thinking, or evidence, just the same broad waffle from a position of experience, aimed at the next big global wheeze, invented 20 years ago and never tested successfully.

Their economic knowledge seems to have missed all the Big things, capital, people, and their interactions, and instead skips to technical journals from 1984 as if all the other questions have already been answered definitively.

Course, since they never really mix with people other than themselves, and they’re unlikely to be exposed by the media, it’s pretty easy to do.

It’s just… the sheer bloody laziness of it all.

All these policies are debunked regularly by brilliant writers like Shaun Richards, Frances Coppola, Yves Smith, Bill Mitchell (and many others), but these big cheeses act as if they have zero awareness of any alternative views.

These know-alls without a clue and a terrible track record shouldn’t be anywhere near a salary related to economics.

[Examples include Lord Turner, Mervyn King, and anyone appearing on telly or in print as the “Chief Economist of XXX Bank” who bases everything on the FTSE movement].

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