Economics is humbug!

Posted on

That is not the title of Simon Jenkin's article in the Guardian today, but it could be. My favourite bit is this:

I was always uncomfortable at the overselling of economics as a science, when it is rather a branch of psychology, a study of the peculiarities of human nature. Its spurious objectivity, manifest in its ridiculous love affair with maths, induced a "Jupiter complex", a conviction that scientific certainty, applied with enough rigour to any problem, triumphs over all.

So true. But I've known that since I was a first-year undergraduate economist.

Jenkins is right when he says:

Economic management is and always will be about politics, about the clash of needs and demands resolved through the constitutional process.

Without appreciating it he also provides the clearest argument to rebut those who put forward the idea of economic incidence and its impact on corporation tax. Firstly, what they say is spurious science. Second they ignore the normative political reality that clearly says that what they are arguing is both intensely subjective and wrong.