Paul Krugman has popularised the notion of the Very Serious People. Very Serious People spend a lot of their time talking about strategy. After all, strategy is the most important, most serious thing you can talk about. After all, when you’ve got strategy worked out, the rest is pretty much just filling in the detail.
We certainly have a VSP problem in economics as we sail on out into the treacherous waters pretending that it’s more or less like the 1990s and to the extent it isn’t it would be jolly good if we could get back there. Is anyone thinking about Australia’s response to the threat of secular stagnation? Not so much. (But isn’t it great that we haven’t had a recession in twenty five years? I mean, not wanting to repeat myself, but isn’t it, well … great?) A whole host of micro-economic reforms that might be contemplated? Not so much.
Anyway, I was reminded of this when I came upon this essay on The Path Not Taken, namely the path not taken by the UK in Europe. The essay is from 2014 and makes for very sad reading now. Of course a lot of bad luck coalesced to produce the political cock-up that was Brexit, but, reading it with hindsight, the essay intimates that it was born out of the same complete lack of imagination from the UK’s political elite. I don’t know enough about the internal politics of the EU to really know, but the essay strikes me making its key point very compellingly.