Chapter 12: Economists on the 2008 financial crisis: genuine reflection; or constructing narratives to reaffirm the profession’s authority?
At the height of the financial crisis of 2008, Keynes was proclaimed as the economist that, to the wider peril, the profession had ignored. Now following what has been transitioning from a financial to a fiscal crisis, and from recession to depression, it seems that the project for the resurrection of a Keynes-like policy has as yet been unsuccessful. This chapter provides an analysis of a sample of initial writings by leading economists and financial journalists in the financial press, focusing primarily on their efforts to evaluate both the performance of the profession and the suitability of the project of modern economics. These writings represent an insight into the discourses that are used to shape and determine the types of knowledge and expertise that are considered appropriate for the study of the economy. They can also be interpreted to reveal how economists dismiss certain forms of empirical knowledge as irrelevant to the needs of the discipline. The selected works by the economists are not representative of the sum of each author’s serious academic works, but they are important political interventions, the majority of which were published in the leading financial press. As a sample, these writings capture a series of debates, conducted by either leading members of a discipline or leading financial commentators, in what could only be described as a period of the discipline’s distress.
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