Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Economists, Politics and Finance

An interesting talk in Berlin by economist Robert Shiller (Yale) on "Finance and the Good Society" this evening. While I agree with him regarding the importance of finance as having an economic function, Schiller seems reluctant to admit that the contemporary financial industry has little to do with these functions. Similarly, he cited many examples of financial innovation aimed at social purposes, such as crowd financing for creative projects, but went on to suggest having privately financed "livelihood insurance" to protect ourselves from becoming redundant in the face of computers.... well, I think that we call this type of thing "unemployment insurance" and no, I do not think that we should privatize it. This remark was all the more strange, since it was made in the building of the Allianz insurance company, which overlooks Brandenburg Gate. 
As a side note, I am always amazed by the public fuss and awe made toward "economists" relative to those academics of equal or greater ability in other social sciences.