Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Hopeful Science

Simon Johnson

Under what conditions do entrepreneurship and innovation thrive? How can developing countries shield themselves from negative shocks – and how can developed economies defend themselves from their own financial sectors’ shocking excesses? What do successful emerging markets have in common?

George Bernard Shaw once quipped that “If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.” That seems more accurate today than ever. For, at a time when people are recognizing as never before the relevance of economics to their daily lives, economics itself is in turmoil – over the causes of crises, over the proper relationship between the state and the market, and, inevitably, over its own theoretical premises.

Simon Johnson is one economist whose breadth of knowledge, mastery of policy, and trenchant analyses of current developments have lifted his voice above the din. A professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and a former chief economist of the IMF, Simon Johnson has established himself as one of the most influential interpreters of where the global economy – and economics – is headed. Indeed, when the British magazine Prospect chose its “Top 25 brains of the financial crisis,” Johnson’s name headed the list.

In The Hopeful Science, written exclusively for Project Syndicate, Simon Johnson addresses today’s economic problems from the pragmatic perspective of one who has actually solved economic problems. But it is also the bold and invaluable perspective of a consummate “insider” who, time and again, has been unafraid to criticize prevailing wisdom – and to take on the interests that support it.

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