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Touchstone (TUC): "The Econocracy: the stunning new book from Rethinking Economics"

ISBN: 9781526110138
Format: Paperback
Publication date: 31 Oct 2016

Link to web site

"The 'Rethinking Economics' student movement has been one of the few highlights of the dismal years since the financial crisis. In their new book The Econocracy: The perils of leaving economics to the experts, three of their number – Joe Earle, Cahal Moran and Zach Ward-Perkins – set out in full their case for the reform of academic economics and society’s relation with economics more generally.

"The book is stunning in so many ways: the excellent and accessible writing, with sometimes a wonderful turn of phrase and wry understatement [including]:
"Illustrating the difficulty of getting an unqualified apology from economists, the response to the Queen by Tim Besley and Peter Hennessy concluded that the crisis had been 'a failure of the collective imagination of many bright people [by which they meant themselves] … to understand the risks to the system as a whole'."
"An economics degree amounts to indoctrination in a single abstract theory of a world that does not exist. Students are not even made aware that there are some economists who hold different views. So Rethinking Economics (then Post-Crash Economics) had to search them out for themselves, and found not only alternative theories, but alternatives that seemed better able to explain the world – not least since the financial crisis.

"They call for an economics education where students are confronted with different points of view and are trained to develop skills to be able to choose between them. In the meantime economics graduates are ill-equipped for their work as professional economists, and this at the precise moment when economics has never been more important in the affairs of the world."

Link to Manchester University Press

Further reviews:
"If war is too important to be left to the generals, so is the economy too important to be left to narrowly trained economists. Yet, as this book shows, such economists are precisely what we are getting from our leading universities.

"Given the role economists play in our society, we need them to be much more than adepts in manipulating equations based on unrealistic assumptions. This book demonstrates just why that matters and offers thought-provoking ideas on how to go about it."

 - Martin Wolf, Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times

"A rousing wake-up call to the economics profession to re-think its mission in society, from a collective of dissident graduate students. Their double argument is that the 'econocracy' of economists and economic institutions which has taken charge of our future is not fit for purpose, and, in any case, it contradicts the idea of democratic control.

"So the problem has to be tackled at both ends: creating a different kind of economics, and restoring the accountability of the experts to the citizens. The huge nature of the challenge does not daunt this enterprising group, whose technically assured, well-argued, and informative book must be read as a manifesto of what they hope will grow into a new social reform movement."

 - Lord Robert Skidelsky, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University and Fellow of the British Academy in History and Economics

Link to web site

"The End of Alchemy" by Mervyn King - a former Bank of England governor on the City's hubris and greed: 'The Guardian' review

"Former governors of the Bank of England do not, with the odd 19th-century exception, write books – least of all books like The End of Alchemy, whose bibliography starts with Dean Acheson, the US secretary of state under Truman, and finishes with Stefan Zweig, taking in Thomas Carlyle, Friedrich Hayek and Arthur Waley on the way.

"But then, Mervyn King was never a governor out of central casting. He grew up in the West Midlands; he is not privately educated; his devotion to Aston Villa runs longer, deeper and more constant than the prime minister's; and for many years, before joining the bank in 1991, he was an academic economist. He also has a hinterland, quoting at the outset two of TS Eliot’s most haunting lines: 'Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?/ Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?' – lines that any education minister should have pinned up on their office wall.

"...The financial crisis of 2007-8, centred on the US and the UK, was probably the worst – amid fairly stiff competition – that the industrialised world had seen over the past two centuries; and its immediate consequence was a serious recession, followed by the era of weak and spasmodic economic growth in which we still find ourselves. Why did it happen?"

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