Speakers for Topic 2:
Roughly For – Professor John Quiggin,
Roughly Against – Dr. Bruce Littleboy –
- Has neoliberal market orthodoxy being proved wrong by the GFC?
- Was the subprime collapse caused by government intervention or lack thereof?
- Is there any truth to trickle-down theory or does it just mean the poor get trickled-on?
- Are markets naturally efficient in the first place?
- (If we get around to it) Should the state provide welfare?
An Idiot’s background guide to the topic:
Prior to the GFC, many well-meaning Economists had come to the conclusion that Ronald Reagan wasn’t too far off the mark when he declared in his 1980 inaugural address “Government is not the solution to our problem, Government IS the problem.”
Free market economists rallied to the call, and, true to form, developed a range of assumptions, hypotheses and graphs to support their argument. Most prescient among these was the ‘Efficient Markets hypothesis’. For the uninitiated, the EMH can be summarised as ‘hang the sense of it, this whole market thing seems to be sorting itself out ok without us, so why don’t we all just go and have a drink or several’.
During the subsequent years of American economic expansion – and the self-declared triumph of neo-liberalism (lets call it ‘happy hour’), Economists seem to have grativated away from devising strategies for equitable growth and towards the behavouralist and experimentalist route that reached its zenith with ‘Freakonomics’.
This sexy new ‘pop’ Economics might sell books, but some feel it is a complete prostitution and debasement of Economics as a profession – to the point that asking a respectable Economist about Freakonomics is akin to asking a field surgeon in Haiti about botox (not least because it seemed to imply that Economists were genuinely interesting people to talk to at parties).
Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winning Economist, thinks all Economic theory from the last twenty years needs to be scrapped. But that’s what Friedman said about Keynes twenty years earlier…so who’s right? And if they can’t make up their minds anyway, why should we even listen to them?
After the GFC, which saw several trillion dollars simply disappear from the global economy, it’s worth finding out if Economists really know what they’re talking about – Does government intervention in the economy actually make us worse off? Are markets efficient? Are Economists interesting people to speak to at parties?
Learn more, at POLITICS IN THE PUB @ UQ