The Nobel prize in economics takes too little account of social democracy | Avner Offer


This award is seen as the pinnacle in reputation, but it takes little account of social democracy

The Nobel prize in economics will be announced today. For economists, it is the pinnacle of reputation. When the word Nobel becomes attached to a winner’s name, his word acquires newsworthy authority (only one woman, Elinor Ostrom, has won the prize so far). The prize matters to everyone else too, because of market liberalism, which advocates marketisation, deregulation, union-busting, financialisation, inequality, outsourcing of healthcare, pensions and education, low taxes for the rich, and globalisation. In the 1990s, this rightwing platform was endorsed by New Labour, Clinton Democrats, and their equivalents elsewhere.

The faith in markets comes from economics. Confidence in economics is underpinned by the Nobel prize, which gives it scientific authority. Nobel economist Paul Samuelson quoted the poet William Blake: “Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not to be believed.” There is also a Nobel prize for literature. Is the truth of economics more like physics or literature? How good a warrant does economics provide for the primacy of markets?

Related: Don’t let the Nobel prize fool you. Economics is not a science | Joris Luyendijk

Related: Nobel prize in economics: the top contenders

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