Err, what?

It\’s time economists learned not to trust data. Accountants create most of it in return for a fee. That\’s never been a basis for objectivity

At which point we should be believing the figures on, say, the tax gap, created by an accountant for fees?

21 thoughts on “Err, what?”

  1. He’s discovered the Philosopher’s Gallstone, an argument that allows him to ignore any evidence that contradicts him.

  2. At which point precisely does laughing at this man’s bizarre pronouncements become rather like laughing at the mentally retarded as they go by on their special bus?

  3. He has more influence and considerably higher income than the people on their bus?
    What both amuses and scares me in equal measure is that some base their ideas and policies on his work….

  4. Murphy’s comment is very unfair to economists. Economists don’t need data. They have lovely models that work perfectly without any input from the real world.

  5. Oh for fucks sake Frances that’s such bullshit and just shows in place of knowledge of economics you have ignorance and prejudice.

    Tim adds:Steady on there. I think I hear the sound of a post doc successfully having his chain yanked….

  6. But Coppola is right. As is Murphy. Being narrow within your area of expertise is of no use to anyone if you’re talking about bigger bigger pictures.

    Accountancy skills can get you so far, an understanding of what accounts do in the real world, economics can get you so far, knowing some historical relevance, etc.

    On their own they’re useless. That’s why Worstall’s opinions on social structures are utterly false, citing such and such theorum is nonsense.

    There are more people that espouse Worstall’s sexist, gayist language that are more stuck in their ways, than the liberal left.

    Worstall gets away with it (if you’re a cock that believes him) because he knows words.

  7. “There are more people that espouse Worstall’s sexist, gayist language that are more stuck in their ways, than the liberal left.”

    Well democracy says we all get one vote each, so hard luck Arnald!!

  8. “Accountants create most of it in return for a fee. That’s never been a basis for objectivity”

    I wonder what the ICAEW would think of this statement? Would it be sufficient to get him struck off? He appears to be saying that he knows accountants who have not followed their ethical code.

  9. Murphy is right, analysis of financial data, like any other data, should consider what biases may have been involved in their collection and what errors may have arisen.

    Arnald is right that accountancy skills can take one only so far.

    The problem is the former proposition does not justify ignoring the data, and the latter proposition does not imply that a lack of basic accounting skills is a good starting point for financial analysis.

  10. Ah, Murph is jumping on board the “reality is socially constructed” bandwagon. He’s far too late. Even in accounting, the academics worked out that reality is socially constructed about 40 year ago – see the obit of Anthony Hopwood linked below. In practice normal intelligent people acknowledge this issue and then get on with analysing the data, while keeping a tiny part of their consciousness on the possibility that the data could be bollox.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/jun/28/anthony-hopwood-obituary

  11. Murphy is talking self-aggrandising bullshit as usual. Only a very small proportion of economic data is created by accountants. And, in my youth, the FT was pretty good at providing objective data and comments because that is what its readers paid it to do. Sometimes a fee is paid *for* an objective report.
    I agree with PaulB’s third paragraph

  12. Arnald

    What does the word ‘gayist’ mean? Are you implying Tim is a homophobe (anti – Gay)?

    In terms of the Tweet itself, either it illustrates the perils of a medium that limits the user to 140 characters per Tweet or the prospect of the 2015 government with this man as Chef Economic Advisor just got even more horrifying…

  13. Van P above , and generally. Why the conviction that Murphy is so influential, and that there is any chance that he would have any influence over a 2015 Labour Govt?

    I hadn’t actually heard of him till I started reading this blog. I read the Graun a couple of times a week in a local cafe, and I’ve never noticed him quoted, or articles by him. Is he on telly? (I don’t watch much). As I say, without this blog I would be utterly unaware of him (speaking as a vaguely lefty islington dwelling, europhile all round enemy of the people).

    It just seems to me that one of the most unlikely conversations imaginable would be:

    Ed Balls: ” Mr Murphy, please tell me what I should do.”

  14. Luke

    It’s a fair question – he is however extremely influential amongst Left Wing intellectuals who inhabit the think tank universe. Heis also leading Economic Advisor to the TUC and as Ed is entirely in their pocket, I think the quid pro quo is that Murphy is appointed to the position of influence.

    You are absolutely correct that I can’t envisage the conversation you posit Murphy/ Balls having but it would be a rerun of Lawson/ Walters in the 1980s. I Can, however, posit that conversation with Rachel Reeves or Chuka Umana who might replace Balls were he to resign…

  15. >Is he on telly?

    He exists largely on BBC appearance fees as far as I can tell – he pops up where-ever there is a popular tax story to claim that everyone should always pay more tax, and it’s immoral to not pay tax when you have substantial turnover, even if you made a thumping great loss.

  16. The prole -” He exists largely on BBC appearance fees as far as I can tell.”

    Which programs? I am genuinely interested because I (islington dwelling lefty etc, but who doesn’t watch much telly) have never seen or read this guy anywhere, except this blog. Is it afternoon programmes watched by retirees, like cash in the attic?

    For all I know he could be in league with Mr W, each giving each other something to write about, and giving each other’s foam mouthed followers something to get excited about. (We all have to make a living.)

  17. Oh, lighten up Luis. I’m not ignorant of economics, as you well know. Nor am I prejudiced, I hope – but I’m not blind either. One of the reasonable criticisms that can be levelled at mainstream economics is that it is arguably over-reliant on theoretical modelling and makes insufficient use of real data.

  18. @Luke
    I’ve seen him on Newsnight a couple of times and heard him on the Today programme also. I have seen him cited many times in Newspapers. He seems to have got himself established as a rent-a-quote for tax related stories from the perspective of the left

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