chapter  3
19 Pages

The economist as shaman

Economists have not had a comfortable time in recent years, a period during which criticisms of their inability to predict, much less to find solutions for, the most significant economic crisis of the century, have been made widely. This culminated in the unedifying spectacle of a group of British economists finding themselves unable to find adequate answers to their sovereign’s questioning about how they justified their existence after being asleep on watch during the most serious economic crisis in a century. At the opening of a new building at the London School of Economics in late 2008, Queen Elizabeth inquired: ‘It’s awful – why did nobody see it coming?’ The director of management research, Professor Garicano, immediately replied that the crisis was not anticipated because ‘everyone thought they were doing the right thing’ (Montgomerie and Williams, 2009: 99).