The world economic crisis should also be a crisis for the world of economists. This penetrating essay by Harvey Mansfield, a professor of government at Harvard, mulls over the failure of the economists to predict the global recession. He concludes that the profession should step back from making predictions. As for the rest of us, knowing economists can’t tell us what’s going to happen next, we need to stop behaving (spending, saving, investing) as if we can exploit their foresight for personal gain. Better to just try to be virtuous, he suggests–a radical notion. “Everybody has self-interest, which is not true of virtue,” Mansfield writes. “But at least virtue does not depend on predicting the future.”
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