Saturday, September 19, 2009

So, If an Economist Falls in the Forest . . .

*book review from the Washington Post

It's the quote that launched a thousand pats on the back.

"The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else," wrote John Maynard Keynes in 1936. "Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist."

Economists love that line. They can't get enough of it. Sneak into any gathering of dismal scientists, and soon enough some smug professor will parrot the British economist's elegant, self-congratulatory words. Its appeal is bipartisan: Liberal scold and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman is fond of it, and even former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan trotted it out in a 2005 memorial lecture in Scotland honoring free-market luminary and "Wealth of Nations" author Adam Smith.

Read the rest.