"I don't do maths…"
Now this could be my quote - but it's not. This blog is inspired by an article in the Financial Times Weekend (my favourite newspaper) from 30 November/1December 2013 - it's been languishing in my in-tray waiting to get its moment.
I saved the article because it's an interview by David Pilling of Ha-Joon Chang - the Korean born, Cambridge economist and author of (among lots of other things), the brilliant book "23 things they don't tell you about capitalism" (2010). I'd really recommend you put this on your Christmas list.
Here are some quotes I loved from the interview.
"The predominant view in the profession is that there's one particular way of doing economics. It's basically to set up some mathematical model, the more complicated the better…"
"…then to pretend that we are all selfish and that we basically do our best to promote self-interest, making choices in a rational way"
"I don't take that view. Rational thinking is an important part of human nature, but so is imagination, we have ambition, we have irrational fear, we are swayed by other people, we get indoctrinated and we get influenced by advertising"
"Economics used to be a branch of moral philosophy - about politics and culture and society and morality. Unfortunately now, too many economists want to make their subject a science like physics or chemistry - I am called a sociologist as a put-down - it's like the Catholic Church of old when they refused to translate the bible so only Latin scholars could read it. Today, unless you're good at maths and statistics you cannot penetrate the economic literature, and that's wrong"
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