Alex Mitchell goes for the jugular

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Alex Mitchell is one of the polit­i­cal writ­ers I’ve always enjoyed read­ing. Today he excels him­self in The New Matil­da, with a post on oth­er journalists–specifically eco­nom­ic journalists–that real­ly goes for the jugu­lar.

Over­all I think Ana­tole Kalet­sky is on the more impor­tant track, to destroy the unjus­ti­fied cred­i­bil­i­ty of the aca­d­e­m­ic neo­clas­si­cal econ­o­mists whose the­o­ries jus­ti­fied the non­sense that gave us this cri­sis, and whose inane the­o­ries “the bot­tom feed­ers” repack­aged for pop­u­lar con­sump­tion through the media (see Fab­u­lous attack on neo­clas­si­cal eco­nom­ics by Ana­tole Kalet­sky for my com­men­tary, and Econ­o­mists are the for­got­ten guilty men for the orig­i­nal arti­cle). But those bot­tom feed­ers also deserve to be whacked over the head too, and Mitchell does this in great style.

A blog­ger remind­ed me that though I give Kalet­sky some praise above, he was a UK ver­sion of the local bot­tom feed­ers that Mitchell has in mind, repack­ag­ing aca­d­e­m­ic neo­clas­si­cal papers for pop­u­lar con­sump­tion and gen­er­al­ly being Pan­gloss­ian about the like­ly sever­i­ty of this cri­sis until a recent “Road to Dam­as­cus” moment. But that said, he deserves cred­it for the ris­ing tide of “I got it wrong” com­ments that he has made in The Times. I’ve yet to see one by the local crop–with the pos­si­ble excep­tion of a piece by Michael Pas­coe in which he acknowl­edged that his “don’t pan­ic” advice at the begin­ning of 2008 was wrong, and the best invest­ment strat­e­gy that year was in fact to pan­ic (and with­draw all your funds from the stock mar­ket).

Here are a few excerpts from Mitchel­l’s piece to whet the appetite, but I high­ly rec­om­mend read­ing the whole arti­cle on The New Matil­da site. Over to you Alex:

Note to eco­nom­ics writ­ers: your beloved free mar­ket is dead. Now tell us the real sto­ry about the glob­al finan­cial cri­sis, writes Alex Mitchell.

For many years it was my con­sci­en­tious belief that the worst prac­ti­tion­ers in the media were celebri­ty reporters who did lit­tle more than rewrite press hand­outs sup­plied by agents for lime­light-seek­ing B‑grade actors and pop stars. 

I’ve now revised my views and am con­vinced that the medi­a’s bot­tom-feed­ers are the eco­nom­ics writ­ers. 

In so-called nor­mal times, these eru­dite com­men­ta­tors wrote very lit­tle and not very often. Indeed, they rarely came to work and weren’t seen around news­rooms. They sat at home in their book-lined stud­ies mou­s­ing their way through inter­na­tion­al web­sites look­ing for ideas for some­thing to write about. 

Hav­ing pla­gia­rised a let­ter from The Econ­o­mist, an edi­to­r­i­al from the Wash­ing­ton Post, an arti­cle from the Far East Eco­nom­ic Review or the in-house report from a lead­ing invest­ment bank, they appeared in print, glow­ing with wis­dom. 

But when the world econ­o­my turned nasty, these char­la­tans and huck­sters were quick­ly unmasked and reg­u­lar reporters start­ed ask­ing each oth­er: has that bald-head­ed ego­ma­ni­ac on three times my salary got any clothes on or not? Answer: No!…

Are the eco­nom­ics writ­ers warn­ing of these implic­it dan­gers? No, they’re hope­less­ly at sea giv­ing ris­i­ble inter­views to the ABC try­ing to con­vince lis­ten­ers that their beloved free mar­ket will be resus­ci­tat­ed, if not this year then next.

I can’t help won­der­ing who is his most spe­cif­ic role mod­el here; I do have my sus­pi­cions…

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About Steve Keen

I am Professor of Economics and Head of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University London, and a long time critic of conventional economic thought. As well as attacking mainstream thought in Debunking Economics, I am also developing an alternative dynamic approach to economic modelling. The key issue I am tackling here is the prospect for a debt-deflation on the back of the enormous private debts accumulated globally, and our very low rate of inflation.