Inspired by the TUC's After Austerity conference, and more so by CRESC's recent report on industrial policy, I've posted a new article to the Uneconomics debate, on what type of expertise might be needed to move beyond the impasse of 'let the market sort it out'. As I conclude:
An industrial policy that wasn’t simply the outcome of corporate lobbying (e.g. copyright extensions) or an ultimatum (e.g. banking bailouts) or national nostalgia (e.g. rescuing cherished brands) would necessarily involve policymakers acquiring a new form of expertise, that was more sensitive to the organisational, historical and material elements of capitalism...
Too often, we assume that we need a new Keynes to come along and rescue us, or failing that, the old one. Somewhere, a very clever man must be working on a very complicated book that will produce a new and better economic policy template. We just need to wait for him to finish. What if this is misguided? What if all we can rely on is what the American political scientist Charles Lindblom characterised as ‘muddling through’? If this is the case, we might at least strive to muddle through in an informed and competent way.
Building up this information will take time. But, as US economist Dean Baker remarked grimly at After Austerity, “we have plenty of time” – this depression isn’t going anywhere.