A new book has flown through the letter box and landed, squawking gently to attract attention, on my desk this afternoon. I’m distracted enough from my work to page through it, and am jolted alert by the title of the concluding chapter: “Using Theory to Learn from History.” That’s exactly what economists presuming to give policy advice ought to do.
The theory in The Leaderless Economy by Peter Temin and David Vines is the theory of internal and external balance in international economics. The history is the Great Depression – “The economic problems of the 1930s only became known as the Great Depression after the fact. Politicians and economists struggled to understand what was happening in real time.”
The real time choices political leaders around the world make now will have large and lasting effects. Will theory and history help them avert Great Depression 2.0? My quick scan of the book suggests the authors are not optimistic. Back to work.
The Leaderless Economy: Why the World Economic System Fell Apart and How to Fix It