There is only one reason to read economists. After your eye has been caught by an article that seems to reflect a current situation (Dean Baker in 2004 on the speculative housing boom is a good example), you keep reading them in the hope of learning more. Their terminology is often pure Greek to the general reader. Still, if they predict something that comes to pass, you continue to read them because they are telling the truth.
Through time, as we earnestly searched for some insight into the madness that swallowed our community -- the speculative real estate boom and bust and the financial fandango surrounding it -- we came to recognize a certain kinship among the accurate economists: their ability to predict appears to be dependent on a sense of history. The staid idea that the only way we can see the future is by knowing the past was officially thrown on the dustheap of history along with Das Kapital and the Soviet Union in the middle of an era of American history that went from voodoo economics to zombie banks. The economics profession bravely announced that up in the air, unseen but omnipresent, was the self-balancing free market (known by the uneducated Badlands Journal editorial board as the "invisible middle finger"). The self-balancing free market is the Big Idea beyond time and space that was supposed to make everything work out.Read More »