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September 25, 2008


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Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky

A couple of points to ponder:

1) Napoleon supposedly said that all the economists in the world, laid end to end, would never reach a conclusion.

2) Someone else, whose name I didn't catch or can't remember, said that only two economists on this planet understand the economy, and they disagree.

Like historians, economists are much better explaining what happened after the fact than predicting what will happen. Many of them also have faith that the free market system will self correct, producing a salutary outcome (Adam Smith's "unseen hand" premise). Unfortunately, when regulators sleep, cheaters prosper, to the the detriment of everyone else. Our math skills are not deficient in instances like this. It's our judgment. We should have gotten the idea when the thrift crisis swept across the country and surely sensed the peril in the bailout of the Longterm Capital Management private equity firm. But, no-o-o-o-o. The Prophet Paul Simon was right - "a [hu]man hears what [s]he wants to hear / And disregards the rest." So, everyone grab a bucket; time again to bail!

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