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The Dismal Kingdom

Do Economists Have Too Much Power?

+ Paul Romer

Writing for Foreign Affairs, Senior Fellow Paul Romer criticizes the U.S. government's mindset that economists are philosopher-kings who can instruct the public on questions of right and wrong. Romer reviews the books The Economists’ Hour by Binyamin Appelbaum and Transaction Man by Nicholas Lemann, both of which "converge on the conclusion that the economists at the helm are doing more harm than good." Romer writes:

Simply put, a system that delegates to economists the responsibility for answering normative questions may yield many reasonable decisions when the stakes are low, but it will fail and cause enormous damage when powerful industries are brought into the mix. And it takes only a few huge failures to offset whatever positive difference smaller, successful interventions have made.

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