Those of you looking to read about the Moody Blues, stop now, you will only be disappointed..
No, this is about economics and the difficulty I continually experience in figuring out where I stand on the spectrum. I get utterly riled about outrageous CEO salaries, industry special pleading, privatisation as the sine qua non of economic management and the marketisation of absolutely everything. I think arguments about markets always delivering the best outcomes because they allocate to the "highest and best use" fall way short of comprehensive analysis. I get awfully annoyed about the unholy alliance of Treasuries, market/securities analysts, ratings agencies and sympathetic journalists who all support Washington Consensus economic policies. This alliance is dangerous for democracy and public well being. I particularly oppose policies that treat people as inputs.
On the other hand, I understand that governments cannot throw money at very 'deserving' cause, that the price mechanism is an effective allocator of resources and, in general, intense competition works very well in ensuring consumer choice.
But I loathe excessive choice for choices' sake - insurance, health, phone plans etc are good examples - where governments intervene to bolster choice while the companies go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that you can't easily compare offerings.
When I do on-line quizzes I generally end up labelled as fairly pro-market, for want of a better term and my approach to my work more or less reflects such a preference.
As with all things, I suppose, the answer lies in the middle and maybe what really upsets me is that there seems to be an acceptance that because the economic reforms over the last two decades have delivered generally good outcomes, we simply need to keep going. But, in contrast to a bloke I once worked for, I believe that all such gains are not cost free. Holding back progress is one thing: inadequately recognising and compensating those adversely affected is another, and often gets lost in the euphoria about the supposed benefits. Which leads in turn to inflated claims: recall the billions that the Uruguay Round was going to deliver, and then the same types of claims were made for the USFTA. And it's all crap - the answer depends on the inputs (and in these two cases the inputs reflected the wishlist, not the actual outcome).
All of which is bad for democracy. Which assumes we still live in one. Have a good weekend, folks.