Not at the WEA ethics conference

The new World Economics Association (WEA, started May 2011) holds an internet conference on ethics. Since my advice to boycott Holland is based upon professional ethics I submitted this paper. I was happy when it got accepted but disappointed when I received an email that there had been some misunderstanding and that it was finally not included in the conference. The paper was also rejected by the the Real World Economics Review (RWER).

In both cases no arguments have been provided so I am in to the dark where the analysis misses out on ethics and relevance for the real world. Perhaps I miss some crucial points but there wouldn’t seem any harm in discussing the advice to Boycott Holland. Ethics is a serious topic and it is important that such arguments get the chance to be heard. Electrons are hardly the cost nowadays. Yet the conference organisers and editors of the RWER now have managed to create a window of disopportunity, where some economists might not consider the whole internet but only their own fine little portion again.

The paper refers to my earlier discussion “Economics as a zoo” (2005). The abstract of this reads:

“The world has 6 billion people, and rising, and we like them all to know a little bit of economics. This means that there is a huge market for economic theory, economics textbooks and teachers. As groups of economists have the objective to get a little bit of the action, a key strategy seems to be to label oneself differently, say X, so that all customers can be told that if they want the real thing then they need X. What to think of labels like “realistic economics”, “heterodox economics” and the “post-autistic economics network” ? If you don’t join, are you non-realistic, orthodox and autistic ? Economics is in danger of turning into a zoo. As the animals have taken over the zoo too, there is nothing to control them but common sense. Common sense can be taxed needlessly. The preferred strategy is to provide quality, and then add proper labels that advance understanding.”

I still think so. I consider myself a neoclassical economist and I think that we can tackle the economic crisis building upon the work of Keynes and Tinbergen. This tradition and approach in economics has been very succesful and the conclusion for an Economic Supreme Court is based upon that success. If you think differently you need some very strong arguments. I wonder whether WEA and RWER have those arguments. The RWER is at the website of the post-autistic network and it seems that the WEA has some links to that. So I took some risk in sending in a paper to economists who should reconsider their branding label. But without communication there is no advance.

One of the editors at the conference now has an entry referring to say Alan Greenspan: “Given the extraordinary level of incompetence shown by these economists, one may ask. . . .” It seems to me somewhat shortsighted to discuss this. So what, when economists A, B, C think that e.g. Alan Greenspan was too optimistic about market processes ? This approach entirely misses the point. It remains in the realm of opinion and it neglects fact. The point is that in the case of the Dutch Central Planning Bureau we have the fact and can prove that there is censorship. The Dutch people and a fortiori the world gets wrong information.

The WEA and RWER are just as impervious as the IMF. I haven’t yet received a response to my email to the IEO of the IMF either. When there aren’t arguments and when there is no discussion then it isn’t science.

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