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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Nudging the politicians out??

The World Bank used to be a name to conjure with. Its keynote annual “World Development” reports blazed an ideological trail in the 90s – particularly its infamous 1997 neo-liberal attack on the State to which Japan actually issued a specially-commissioned riposte.
The Bank’s 2014 World Development Report - entitled “Mind, Society and Behaviour” – is a showcase for the newer type of behavioural economics which the Bank would have us believe has replaced the discredited system of economics. A lot of people – such as those at Real World Economics – would disagree…..
The World Bank (WB) no longer seems to arouse the controversy and anger it once did – presumably because there are now so many more worthy targets such as real bankers and plutocrats. Twenty years ago my bookshelves were stocked with exposes of the ecological, social and economic damage WB lending policies were inflicting on developing countries. Special websites and books with such names as “50 years is enough” were dedicated to the abolition of both the Bank and the International Monetary Fund
The Washington Consensus” was a phrase we angrily splattered our conversations with – denoting the intellectual homogeneity, it not hegemony, the Bank exercised over the economics “discipline”.
Successive WB Presidents toned down the neo-liberal rhetoric and skilfully co-opted a lot of the critics – particularly the NGOs. So things are quieter now – but be under no illusions. Behind the scenes, the Bank’s largesse toward the academic community ensures that economists continue to act as castrated  lapdogs of prevailing power. And over in Brussels, the Economic Commission exercises the same sort of lobotomy surgery of most academics who stray into its territory….

Indeed the recent fashion for governments to “nudge” their citizens to various forms of desired behaviour makes one wonder why we bother with politics any more. They are, after all, just so much unnecessary grit in the machinery….  .whose simplistic interventions really should be challenged with rather more effective systems of challenge than most parliaments can manage these submissive days.

But don't let me put you off from what seems quite a good read - the RSA link  (the second above) is a serious treatment of the report.......
and the Real World Economics collective continues to gives us much-needed and bracing home truths eg this thoughtful piece Challenging the current economics curriculum by the Vice-Chancellor of one of Pakistan’s Institutes of Development Economics

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