On macro, the Financial Crisis, Global Warming, and Plato

Jan Libich from Latrobe University is running a televised series on economics. He gets people into his TV studio to talk about some aspect of the economy and then puts it out there. Andrew Leigh, Andrew Hughes Hallett, and Eric Leeper were previous victims. Adrian Pagan and Warwick McKibbin are lined up in future instalments.

It was my turn last week to be grilled on all questions involving macro-economics. It evolved into a lively debate about long-run growth, developments in China, the case for inflation, Plato’s Republic, and the options for averting global warming. A good introductory discussion on all those topics, but in future installments I clearly need to get rid of my smug smile.

If you want to know more about the issues raised, see here.

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Don Arthur
11 years ago

Paul – Do you think economists sometimes suffer the same delusions as climate scientists when it comes to technocratic decision making?

11 years ago
Reply to  Don Arthur

Not being a climate scientist or an economist, I’d first want to know if they are really comparable given the different type of data that is available or open to being collected.

11 years ago
Reply to  conrad

They both involve:
* very high dimensional systems,
* feedback, often multi-layered feedback,
* nonlinear transfer functions,
* chaos and complexity (as a result of nonlinear feedback),
* woefully incomplete and error-prone data collection,
* stitching historical data series together (often collected in different places, by different methods),
* influence of political agendas,
* lack of any control experiment,
* inability to go back and repeat an experiment.

That’s all the similarities I can think of off the top of my head.

Paul frijters
Paul frijters
11 years ago


Yes, you do see some economists who openly fantasise about running the world without being elected. Some mega planbureau that calls the shots. Or a fiscal agency that decides what money is spent on.
By and large though, we economists have the image of the servant in our heads. We are forever advising the social planner. Advisers don’t run the place.