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…