Zakaj se ekonomski zvezdniki obračajo v levo?

Noah Smith ugotavlja, da se je – nekoč desničarska trdnjava – ekonomija v zadnjih desetletjih obrnila v levo. Konzervativcem nekdanjih desničarskih zvezdnikov med ekonomisti (Friedricha Hayeka, ki je pridigal proti keynesianskemu intervencionizmu in Miltona Friedmana, ki je potoval po ZDA in goreče pridigal o vsemogočnosti prostega trga) ni uspelo zamenjati z ustreznimi nadomestki. Zamenjal ju je … Paul Krugman, ki mu asistirajo Joseph Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty in Jeffrey Sachs. Liberalno oziroma progresivno  usmerjeni ekonomisti.

Smith pravilno ugotavlja, da je ta zasuk v levo posledica razmer v družbi. Če so v ZDA v 1960-ih in 1970-ih, v času največje blaginje in najmanjše družbene neenakosti, bili glavni problemi v preveliki regulaciji in visokih davkih, se je v zadnjih dveh desetletjih ekstenzivne globalizacije in ekstremno dereguliranega gospodarstva ponovno močno povečala neenakost. Ekonomisti so tem spremenjenim družbenim trendom prilagodili fokus svojih raziskav in osebnega angažmaja.

Kaj se je zgodilo s fokusom slovenskih ekonomistov?

Back in the 1970s, the public face of economics was Milton Friedman. A consummate public intellectual, Friedman would travel around the country giving lectures about the power of free markets and the virtues of capitalism. Just search YouTube and you can easily see highlight reels of Friedman smacking down socialists and idealistic leftist youths. He inspired a generation of bright young conservatives to go into economics. And before Friedman, there was Friedrich Hayek, whose tirade against Keynesian government intervention is still revered by many on the right.

Look around now. Where is the Milton Friedman of the 2010s? According to a recent post by George Mason University economist and blogger Tyler Cowen, the modern Milton Friedman is…Paul Krugman. Friedman’s “Free to Choose” has been replaced by Krugman’s “The Conscience of a Liberal.”

Krugman isn’t alone. Cowen’s list of the five most influential economists also includes Thomas Piketty, Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs and Amartya Sen. Piketty, of course, exploded on the national scene last year with a book warning about inequality, and his ideas were apparently all the rage at this year’s AEA meeting. Stiglitz, who helped invent the theory of asymmetric information, travels the country talking about how markets are flawed. Sachs campaigns in favor of foreign aid to poor countries and Sen has spent his life trying to inject a human element into the cold equations of econ.

On the right side of the spectrum, what popular economists can match the appeal of Krugman, Piketty and the rest? The only candidate is Greg Mankiw of Harvard, who has become known as America’s economics teacher through his authorship of the most popular introductory college textbook. Mankiw is a rock-ribbed conservative, arguing tirelessly for lower taxes on the rich. But in terms of popular influence, he can’t match the heavy hitters on the left. Other right-leaning economists such as Robert Barro, John Cochrane, Martin Feldstein and John Taylor pen occasional op-eds in the Wall Street Journal, but none of them has written a book or blog whose popularity or influence matches that of Krugman or Piketty.

It’s worth asking: Why has economics shifted to the left? Maybe it’s because the country itself, and its problems, have shifted. In the 1970s, when conservatism and Friedman became the face of economics, we faced high tax rates, heavy regulation, high inflation and powerful unions. But in 2015, we confront rising inequality, economic insecurity, and the aftermath of a financial crisis and a long, deep recession.

Maybe a country simply gets the economics it needs.

In any case, if you think of economics as a bastion of conservatism and free-market dogma, it’s time to take another look. The winds have changed.

Vir: Noah Smith, Business Insider

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