The importance of disseminating economic news/knowledge effectively (so that fake ones can be avoided)

An interesting speech by Salvatore Rossi of Bank of Italy.

The thesis of this lecture is that nowadays serious manufacturers of information, and scholars in particular, have what has become an impelling and absolute duty to disseminate their knowledge. This should be their main concern. In all fields. Before it is too late. Especially here in Italy. Especially when it comes to economics.

…….

 Let me give you an example of an inaccurate and misleading myth about the Italian economy, which would benefit greatly from a fair account of the facts, that is, from good popularization. According to this myth, the Italian economy could be prosperous and happy if only Europe, out of Teutonic foolishness, and the market, out of occasional political antipathy, did not impose a financial straitjacket on it. In this oversimplified narrative, there are grains of truth and mountains of lies. 

The issues are much more entangled and complicated, and it is up to those who have spent a long time studying these problems to make this clearly
understood. 

For now, let’s clarify one thing: the main problem with the Italian economy is that, when something is produced (industrial equipment, a legal
opinion, a history lesson), it is not done efficiently enough. In other words, resources are wasted and it costs more to achieve a given level of quality.
On average, of course. The differences between one firm and another, between one lawyer and another, between one professor and another, are enormous,
but overall the Italian economy suffers from a competitive disadvantage and growth gap when compared with other economies. And it has done so for at
least the past 20 years. Italy knows how to do all manner of things, but it does them, overall, less frequently and less well than it could.

Hmmm.

He discusses why disseminating information in economics is particularly difficult. This allows a lot of mistaken and misrepresented ideas to develop and spread to people.

We citizens are not used to paying attention to the sources of the news that rains down on us every day when we leaf through a newspaper, consult the digital
devices that most of us have, or look at dear old television. The media is full of tables and charts about various economic facts and almost never indicate sources and methodologies. Even if they were indicated we would not pay them any heed as we normally have very little time to devote to one particular news item. But if the fact is non-existent or measured badly we will receive an incorrect impression which, however mild and fleeting, can leave traces in our psyche and affect our behaviour.

It is even worse when we are faced not with non-existent or poorly measured facts, but with mistaken or misrepresented theories. Any statement about the way
in which economies work, the laws they obey, the ways in which they pursue the goal of well-being that a society sets itself must correspond to a theory that
has been empirically and robustly validated. Otherwise, especially if emotionally persuasive, this might induce the recipients to behave in a way that is contrary to their own interests.

….

In short, what was in the past only desirable – that economists communicate reliable and proven economic theories and data more, and more effectively – is imperative and urgent in these times of omnipresent bad or inaccurate economic information, used for political purposes. It is not only the good name of the economic profession that is at stake here. It is the very functioning of our democratic societies.

Useful speech and coming from a central banker, makes it more interesting.

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