Lies, damned lies, and economics

“A groundbreaking report published today by economists reveals that the crisps industry in Britain is worth £2.7 billion to the economy, supporting 350,000 jobs directly and a further 1.2 million jobs indirectly, exporting 4 million tonnes a year throughout the world, and featuring in many Michelin star restaurants. Fred Scroggins, Minister for Savoury Foods, said today, ‘I am delighted that Britain leads the world in crisps, securing jobs and growth for our nation and providing a bright career for many generations to come.’ The Director of the Crisps Growth Sector Hub said, ….”

Is this made up? At one level, obviously yes.

But at another level we can recognise it as a somewhat tired template for so many lobbying reports. And this can create a weariness with economics generally in the public. Some fancy person with a laptop and spreadsheet can easily justify these numbers with their patent methodology.

An interesting take on this approach is written by a group of student economists, some now graduated, who queried this received wisdom especially when their university courses still made no reference to the economic crash from 2007-08 onwards. Business as usual is no longer sustainable, they said, and these old-style econometrics were past their sell-by date. To be fair, a minority of tutors agreed with these students, but the weight of the past is still proving hard to shift.

The book is called Econocracy – worth a read – https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/09/the-econocracy-review-joe-earle-cahal-moran-zach-ward-perkins

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