by Frank Schnittger
Tue May 31st, 2011 at 09:09:25 PM EST
The Irish Times - Letters
Madam, - The article by John O'Hagan condemns "celebrity economists" such as Morgan Kelly for their octopus-like forecasting abilities and lack of calm, rational, factual, analysis, while making no verifiable statements of fact, or falsifiable predictions for the future. His thinking seems to be reducible to your headline that "Confidence and hope can trump counsel of despair", while ignoring the fact that the positive spin about "soft landings" and "the cheapest bank guarantee in the world" got us into this mess in the first place.
As the numerous comments on the online version of your paper can testify, his pious hope that we can muddle through ignores the fact that the economic meltdown he thinks can be avoided by thinking positive is already a reality for those outside the comfortable academic groves and intellectual bubble world he seems to inhabit.
"Please don't rock the boat because I'm all right Jack" seems to be the mantra being repeated by the Irish elite at the present time. Bad things happen if you allow reality to intrude.
Unfortunately, the consequences of such complacency are all too real for most people and moralising econobabble from highly paid academics can no longer cover the cracks their lack of leadership has exposed and created in Irish life. - Yours, etc,
Professor Morgan Kelly has written a series of articles critical of the management of the Irish economy for the Irish Times, the latest of which has provoked a firestorm of critical comment from Government Ministers, the Governor of the Central Bank (and ECB Council Member), the Taoiseach, a former Taoiseach, and more mixed reviews from a range of fellow Irish economists.
The latest to weigh in on behalf of the establishment is John O'Hagan, professor of economics at Trinity College Dublin. My letter in response to his article is published above. It is fairly representative of 48 rather vehement on-line responses his article provoked. The old Irish deference to learned members of the academic establishment seems to be a thing of the past.
In fairness to professor O'Hagan, his article would have been deemed a fairly harmless and innocuous page filler in any other context. Nobody ever got fired from academia for advocating calm and rational debate. But what I think the response indicates is that people now demand more from highly paid establishment figures than mere hopeful platitudes. Instead of bewailing the complexities and taking side-swipes at those who do have a track record of making correct predictions, people are demanding solutions to their very real existential problems. And if the establishment say they don't have any, they had better be prepared to make way for those who at least have the courage to develop some.