Today at heteconomist, interest is not so much in the economy, or even economics, but, if anything at all, in the economists themselves. Currently, the economist is king. Not just in the US, UK or Japan, but in most parts of the world. The king of comedy. Right now we are witnessing one of the more audacious practical jokes in modern history, and it is mostly down to economists! Not so much the heterodox economists. They don’t count, really. The kings of comedy are the orthodox economists, and they are having a ball!
I gather that some time ago they tweeted themselves the question, “What is the most draconian, class-interested macroeconomic policy advice the rubes will still be gullible enough to swallow?” Currently, we are meant to be in the process of finding out. However, if anything, it has been too easy. The level of gullibility may have been underestimated. Although the answer we are getting is hilarious, it could have been so much more hilarious! History may yet record that the economic comedy establishment sold itself short.
Even so, the comic potential and ongoing entertainment value of the practical joke cannot be denied. For its success, the joke has called for different categories of economist to play different roles. These roles have been performed with varying degrees of artistic restraint but always with a view to causing great hilarity. The roles appear to be carried out in accordance with a well defined intellectual hierarchy.
At the highest level of the hierarchy are the fake Nobel Prize-winning academic economists. These are the economists who are too smart to believe their own bullshit. Then come the garden-variety academic economists. They are careerist enough not to call out others’ bullshit, though they might laugh about it behind closed doors. Next are the central bankers. They are too complicit not to bullshit. Treasury economists are actually stupid enough to believe the bullshit. Private bank economists don’t understand it, but they do believe. Economic journalists go along with the bullshit, because as journalists they’re shit.
But we should not be deceived by this hierarchy. The lowly private bank economist or economic journalist is just as vital to the success of the practical joke as the lofty fake Nobel Prize winner.