Economists have never heard of sex
From Mr Philip Wood.
Sir, One question posed by Alan Beattie is whether lawyers or economists actually rule the world (“Take a deep breath, economists, it’s time for the lawyers”, June 18). The real question is, who should rule the world? I think economists have a lot going for them. But there are some crucial things missing.
First, although economists have vaguely heard of the rule of law, they are not quite sure how it fits into the metrics. They are primarily interested in function, efficiency and the weighing of costs and benefits.
Second, lawyers from ancient times have been close to emotions and how they should be tamed. As to economists, when John Maynard Keynes referred to “animal spirits” or Alan Greenspan to “irrational exuberance”, these were considered flashes of rare profundity. Rational economists adhere to the notion that we are not stupid, never panic and never do anything out of rage, envy, lust or greed. Economists have never heard of sex.
You can see these contrasts symbolised in the works of the titans of the two disciplines. Compare, for example, the limited scope of the code of conduct enunciated by one of the great heroes of economists, Adam Smith, with the code of one of the first major lawyers, the man with his 10 bullet points on the top of a mountain.
So, as regards the rightful rulers of the world, my money is on the lawyers.
Shere, Surrey, UK
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2011