walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

What is it with economists?

p 44 of _13 Bankers_:

"Fundamental reform requires more than rearranging the seats on the government lifeboat;"

Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic is a metaphor we are all familiar with and it _makes sense_: the Titanic _had_ deck chairs. Rearranging those chairs was probably as important an activity on the Titantic as setting and busing tables is in a sit down restaurant. Rearranging those chairs is _not_ a reasonable use of time while the ship is sinking.

But to the extent there are "seats" on a lifeboat (not all of them have seats), you _cannot_ rearrange them. They don't move. I understand what Kwak and Johnson are trying to do: they are trying to combine a metaphor from total disaster with efforts to avoid the worst results of a disaster in the context of a financial crisis. But this particular mixed metaphor is distracting and absurd.

Also, the authors are seriously creeping me out. I think Johnson's historical overview has serious problems. His description of emerging markets financial crises in the 1990s lacks perspective and nuance, recycling the usual crap about crony capitalism with no apparent sense of irony.

I suppose this is what happens when I read an attempt to explain financial crises in terms of politics written by an MIT economist. Not going to go well; should have seen this coming.

ETA: Elizabeth Warren apparently liked it. Hopefully it improves.

ETAYA: In case it doesn't, I picked up _This Time Is Different_. Better publisher, more historical.
Tags: economics, not-a-book-review, politics
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