Posts filed under “Philosophy”

The False Deities of Economists


“Economics is a faith-based pursuit forever in search of a new deity . . . Each of the gods has been worshipped with the fanatical fervour of the convert. What is curious for those sitting outside the sacred circles is that the apostles show not the slightest hint of self-doubt. The Treasury has become to economics what cults such as Opus Dei are to Catholicism.”

-Philip Stephens


Fascinating discussion at the FT about the failures of economics by Philip Stephens. Wondering how “a compassionate God” could “allow such terrible misery to be inflicted on life’s innocents,” Stephens attempts to “square the circle” of ongoing economic errors, suggesting a leap of imagination is whats required.

Monetarist fundamentalism proved a false prophet; efforts to regulate broader measures of credit failed; focus on exchange rates went nowhere; fixing the value of the pound with a cap on inflation did not work; Full independence for the Bank of England failed. Borrow-till-you-are-broke approach failed, as did Austerity.  The latest economic catechism is fiscal flagellation. It too crashed and burned.

In the US, we tried sanctifying Markets as all-knowing and all-powerful. They were neither, and collapsed in a heap. The fallout form, the damage they inflicted required a taxpayer funded bailout.

Stephens invokes the idea of the Hedgehog and the Fox by noting “the fervour with which economists propagate this or that theory is usually in inverse proportion to the evidence. Fanaticism is thrown as a cloak over the absence of empiricism.” The concept of the single big idea as the solution to our woes, and the misplaced confidence economists have in those single big bold and typically wrong ideas cannot be denied. Consider that view in context of the politician’s embrace of economists and financiers, from Milton Friedman to Arthur Laffer to Robert Rubin to Larry Summers. Then consider the lasting damage each has inflicted upon the nation, as their flawed philosophies wreak ruin.

Skepticism, and reality based policy is what is required. Not blind devotion to disproven fantasies. The sooner the world’s nations recognize this, the better off we will all be.

What most countries on this planet need is a benevolent technocratic philosopher king — and not yet another partisan meglomaniac . . .


Do not put your faith in the false deities of economists
Philip Stephens
FT June 18, 2012

Category: Economy, Philosophy, Really, really bad calls

Autoplay video after the jump

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Category: Philosophy, Video

QOTD: How Knowledge Advances

At James Montier‘s CFA presentation, he used one of my favorite quotes:   “Science advances one funeral at a time.” -Max Planck   I would add to that:   If only economics were so fortunate . . .    

Category: Philosophy, Really, really bad calls

Discuss . . .


Category: Philosophy, Really, really bad calls

Where Sea Monsters Live

Last weekend, I got into — or more like watched — an interesting finance debate related to specific policies, websites, officials and analysts. All the usual suspects were covered. One person went on and on about central-bank planned economies, manipulated currencies, debasing of the dollar, gold,  HFT, etc.  “Its all a Ponzi scheme” he declared,…Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Investing, Markets, Philosophy, Psychology

The New Economic Order?

> Over the weekend, Josh Brown directed me to this monthly commentary from the Eclectica fund, which had the very interesting chart, above. (Full Eclectica Fund April 2012 commentary is here). The issue with the graphic above is that we have no real comparative history by which to judge this. It seems to be a…Read More

Category: Federal Reserve, Investing, Philosophy, Psychology

Here’s to the Lazy Ones . . .

“Here’s to the Lazy Ones. The halfwits, the bumblers, the square pegs in the round holes. The ones who don’t see things at all. They’re not fond of rules (can’t remember them). They have no respect for the status-quo, which they think its Latin for Fendi. You cannot quote them, as they say little that…Read More

Category: Philosophy, Psychology, Really, really bad calls

RIP: Facts (360 B.C.-A.D. 2012)

This is the single cleverest thing I expect you will read all weekend: Facts, 360 B.C.-A.D. 2012 In memoriam: After years of health problems, Facts has finally died. A quick review of the long and illustrious career of Facts reveals some of the world’s most cherished absolutes: Gravity makes things fall down; 2 + 2…Read More

Category: Philosophy

Breakdown of Worlds Religion

Via National Post

Category: Digital Media, Philosophy, Weekend

Mike Wallace Interviews Ayn Rand (1959)

In this engaging 1959 interview, her first on television, Ayn Rand capsulizes her philosophy for CBS’s Mike Wallace. The discussion ranges from the nature of morality to the economic and historical distortions disseminated about the “robber barons.” She also comments on her relationship with Frank O’Connor, provides some autobiographical information and gives her perspective on the future of America.


Ayn Rand Mike Wallace Interview
Part 1


Part 2

Category: Philosophy, Video