How economics ruins the economy

You should take economic truisms with a pinch of salt, says Free Lunch Thinking author Tom Bergin.

by Stephen Jones

Steven Mnuchin’s decision to give teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg career advice was not well received. If she really wanted to lecture global governments, the then US treasury secretary remarked during a press conference at Davos last year, Thunberg should come back after she had studied economics.

It highlighted two things. One is the reluctance of many elected governments to accept the urgency of the global climate crisis; the second, Tom Bergin says, is that policymakers tend to view economics as the pre-eminent solution to the world’s challenges. The problem, he argues in his book Free Lunch Thinking, is that the answers economists give are very often completely wrong.

It’s Bergin’s nature to be sceptical. As an investigative financial journalist for Reuters, he broke the story of the true scale of Starbucks UK’s tax avoidance and has investigated BP’s crisis management failures, experiences that he says opened his eyes to the questionable economic truisms that have come to dominate the way that many see the world.

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