Phillip Inman: Why do the Guardian employ him?

Inman\’s the economics correspndent of both The Guardian and The Observer. And he spouts nonsense like this:

Sadly, crude interpretations of Smith have won important friends, especially since the 1960s, when widespread property ownership became a big issue for politicians. The Nobel prize for economics was first awarded in 1969, and since then has rewarded research into how markets work, with the emphasis on the examination of pure markets and the equilibrium they can achieve if only they are left alone by governments and regulators. All market failures are blamed on interventions.

That\’s complete and total bollocks.

Here\’s the list of economics Nobel winners.

Samuelson certainly wasn\’t claiming that all market failures came from interventions. Kantorovich was a Soviet economist for Lord\’s sake, he certainly wasn\’t trying to claim that government interventions screwed up markets (he would have been shot if he had): he was trying to work out how to make government interventions and planning eliminate markets. Myrdal was a Swedish social democrat MP: hardly an outspoken all markets all the time markets sort of peep.

Friedman got his for monetary theory: precisely and exactly about when should governments intervene in order to save markets from themselves? (Yes, really, that is what he got it for. When should the Fed be doing QE III sort of stuff.) Yes, yes, we all know he loved markets and so on but that absolutely isn\’t what he got his Nobel for.

Tobin studied markets, sure: he was also the originator of the Tobin Tax, that intervention into markets which is being touted now as the FTT or the Robin Hood Tax. That\’s hardly blaming market failure on government intervention now, is it? Actually, it\’s blaming market failure on a lack of government intervention.

Coase got his for transaction costs: which is where we derive some of our ideas about where we should use markets from. But also, where we shouldn\’t, where regulation (that damn pesky government intervention again) is more appropriate.

Becker, often though of as one of the most \”rightie\” of all of them, actually used the analysis of markets to analyse things not normally thought of as markets. Like sex and marriage. Sod all to do with intervention or not.

Nash etc, for game theory……and game theory tells us a lot about when government should indeed intervene.

Ostrom: management of the commons, when does there need to be intervention and when doesn\’t there?

Inman\’s just spouting bollocks about the Nobel so why on earth is he employed by two (count them, two!) newspapers to opine on economics?

7 thoughts on “Phillip Inman: Why do the Guardian employ him?”

  1. Inman’s just spouting bollocks about the Nobel so why on earth is he employed by two (count them, two!) newspapers to opine on economics?

    Because he broadly says what they want to hear, and importantly, sounds convincing.

    Never underestimate the 2nd part: someone who can produce a group of names on a subject (whether Chateaux of the Bordeaux classification, jazz saxophonists or civil war generals) will always sound at least a bit convincing, even if they’re really a 1 eyed idiot.

  2. Unimportant Quibbler

    Massively sweeping generalisations can still make you sound the expert of all you survey, if you’re talking to people who don’t even have the first clue and will be impressed you have managed to assemble an opinion of your own. But if you make that claim to someone who has a clue, the holes appear. The gaping holes.

    Anyway, if it’s obvious to Inman that all those chaps’ masterworks were “crude” and incorrect, why isn’t he in a position to produce superior work that clearly deserves a Nobel Memorial Prize, even if that dratted committee won’t do the just thing and give him it?

  3. “. . . why on earth is he employed by two (count them, two!) newspapers . . .”

    Don’t mean to pick at nits, but I’d say rather he’s employed because he says what the newspapers’ publishers/editors want to SAY, and he gives the them a plausible voice with which to say it.

  4. The Nobel Prize in economics is given out by a Central Bank.

    That they would tend to give out the award to those economists whose ideas correlate with their own. That you can trot out several economists who have done so should surprise no thinking person.

    Yes, government interventions cause economic problems. If you want a Nobel Laureate to reference, F.A. Hayek – who, by the way predicted the Great Depression. And it was the Austrian School (of which he was a member), that predicted the current crisis.

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