Sacrificing realism at the altar of mathematical purity

18 May, 2020 at 08:16 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

e0f5b445c333de539ad33c6a63606b56Economists are too detached from the real world and have failed to learn from the financial crisis, insisting on using mathematical models which do not reflect reality, according to the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane.

The public has lost faith in economists since the credit crunch, he said, but the profession has failed to thoroughly re-examine its failings to come up with a new model of operating.

“The various reports into the economic costs of the UK leaving the EU most likely fell at the same hurdle. They are written, in the main, by the elite for the elite,” said Mr Haldane, writing the foreword to a new book, called ‘The Econocracy: the perils of leaving economics to the experts’ …

The chief economist said that the Great Depression of the 1930s resulted in a major overhaul of economic thinking, led by John Maynard Keynes, who emerged “as the most influential economist of the twentieth century”.

But the recent financial crisis and slow recovery has not yet prompted this great re-thinking …

For now, economists need to focus on reviewing their models, accepting a diversify of thought rather than one solid orthodoxy, and on communicating more clearly.

Economists should focus on other disciplines as well as maths, he said.

“Mainstream economic models have sacrificed too much realism at the altar of mathematical purity. Their various simplifying assumptions have served aesthetic rather than practical ends,” Mr Haldane wrote.

“As a profession, economics has become too much of a methodological monoculture. And that lack of intellectual diversity cost the profession dear when the single crop failed spectacularly during the crisis.”

Tim Wallace/The Telegraph

1 Comment

  1. Great!

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