Back in 2010, I shared a remarkable graph comparing the predictions of economists to what actually happened.
Not surprisingly, the two lines don’t exactly overlap, which explains the old joke that economists have correctly predicted nine of the last five recessions.
It’s not that economists are totally useless. It’s just that they don’t do a very good job when they venture into the filed of macroeconomics, as Russ Roberts succinctly explained. And they look especially foolish when they try to engage in forecasting.
But at least economists sometimes can be entertaining, though usually in the laughing-at-you rather than laughing-with-you way.
Consider, for instance, the escapades of one of Portugal’s leading economic analysts. Here’s some of what the UK-based Guardian recently reported.
As an ex-presidential consultant, a former adviser to the World Bank, a financial researcher for the United Nations and a professor in the US, Artur Baptista da Silva’s outspoken attacks on Portugal’s austerity cuts made the bespectacled 61-year-old one of the country’s leading media pundits last year. …Mr Baptista da Silva…claimed to be a social economics professor at Milton College – a private university in Wisconsin, US…and to be masterminding a UN research project into the effects of the recession on southern European countries.
Promoting more government spending