K čemu jsou ekonomové dobří?

NEW HAVEN – Od globální finanční krize a recese v letech 2007-2009 se kritika ekonomické profese stupňuje. Neschopnost téměř všech profesionálních ekonomů předpovědět tuto epizodu – jejíž dozvuky stále přetrvávají – vedla řadu lidí k otázce, zda obor ekonomie přispívá společnosti něčím podstatným. K čemu jsou ekonomové vůbec dobří, pokud nedokážou předpovědět věc, která je tak důležitá pro blaho lidí?

Pravdou je, že ekonomové nebyli s to předpovědět většinu velkých krizí uplynulého století, včetně prudkého poklesu v letech 1920-1921, dvou po sobě jdoucích recesí v letech 1980-1982 a především velké hospodářské krize po krachu na burze v roce 1929. Když jsem pátral ve zpravodajských archivech za období jednoho roku před začátkem těchto recesí, nenašel jsem prakticky žádné varování ekonomů před blížící se těžkou krizí. Místo toho noviny zdůrazňovaly názory podnikatelských špiček nebo politiků, kteří měli sklon být velmi optimističtí.

Informace, která se nejvíce blížila skutečnému varování, se objevila před poklesem v letech 1980-1982. Šéf Federálního rezervního systému Paul A. Volcker oznámil v roce 1979 Společnému hospodářskému výboru amerického Kongresu, že Spojené státy se potýkají s „nepříjemnými ekonomickými okolnostmi“ a „potřebují obtížná rozhodnutí, zdrženlivost, a dokonce i oběti“. Reálná možnost, že Fed bude muset učinit drastické kroky, aby zmírnil prudce rostoucí inflaci, učinila spolu s dopady ropné krize z roku 1979 vážnou recesi docela pravděpodobnou.

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