Saving the world from econocracy…

Three students Joe Earle, Cahal Moran and Zach Ward-Perkins have written this book – The Econocracy. They say we need to save the world from too much of economic advice and frameworks.

Mark Buchanan of Bloomberg endorses the book:

Why has so much of the world succumbed to populist demagoguery and xenophobic nationalism? To a non-trivial extent, economists may be responsible.

This idea finds some support in a new book, “The Econocracy,” written by three U.K. economics students — Joe Earle, Cahal Moran and Zach Ward-Perkins. They argue that popular dissatisfaction with government has a lot to do with its over-reliance on concepts and ways of thinking supplied by economists, who have been much more influential than their expertise justifies.

In the authors’ usage, an econocracy is a society where — though it looks like a democracy — goals get expressed in economic terms and policy making has become a purely technical activity. Objectives such as faster growth, increased competitiveness and access to more and cheaper consumer goods are taken as inherently desirable, with little consideration of differing values or visions of the future. Specialists handle the execution, because involving the people can only mess things up.

India of course is moving in the opposite direction. We want all those features of economics which has plagued the west for so long now. We of course have economists all over the place. Everything and anything only makes sense if it has economic value.

As Prof Rodrik said, behind Brexit/Trump etc. lies the failure of economists:

The econocracy inevitably breeds a sense of disenfranchisement. This is evident in the European Union, where unelected bureaucrats pursued a level of integration far beyond what the electorates of some members states approved. Distrust grows when the experts’ prescriptions prove woefully misguided, as happened with the euro and financial deregulation — or when policies create winners and losers, as with international trade agreements. Even economists now admit that their profession has often pushed a distorted and one-sided view about the benefits of trade.

Populism is one response, and a dangerous one, as it stirs currents of nationalism, racism and xenophobia. The book offers a more desirable solution: Lay the groundwork for the better use of economics within democracy. This would entail a much less arrogant approach — one less dominated by market fundamentalism and more willing to step outside the confines of its rigid framework, in which theory all too often takes precedence over empirical reality.


3 Responses to “Saving the world from econocracy…”

  1. MS Says:

    Amol, your commentary on this is both puzzling and disappointing.

    Suddenly after Trump’s win, the pundits seem to be discovering that the so-called ‘Econocracy’ was wrong. Where were they all along ? Why are they suddenly amplifying the ill-effects of market economics and globalization ? So far we had been hearing about Globalization helping lower costs of living, and now suddenly, “Integration is ill-advised”?

    Your own choice of words on this are puzzling as well.You could have said something about the choosing wisely between different economic models. But instead you are also waving hands about some vague ‘features from the West’.

    To me, it’s clear: we live in an economic world. The choice of right model and framework is debatable. In other words, from Gandhian Economics to Absolutism to Naked Capitalism, we have a choice of economic frameworks. But it’s all economics nevertheless.

    And yes, we probably need more philosophers in the mix along with scientists. Sir, it’s time you showed some attention to our own Gandhi and JC Kumarappa.

    • Amol Agrawal Says:

      Hi MS 🙂 well, I am really impressed when you mention JC Kumarappa. Sir, I have been brainwashed for too long to look at these Indian alternatives. We are hardly taught any of these things. Mention Gandhi in economics circles and you are not even going to be looked. I fully agree we need more philosophy and historical thinking. And I think demonetisation bombarding has made me clueless about other economics things. Need to get back 🙂

  2. Daily SG: 29 Nov 2016 – The Singapore Daily Says:

    […] – Mostly Economics: Saving the world from econocracy… […]

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