Economics of change: Ideas can do harm or make the world a better place

It is true that some ideas promulgated by economists have been destructive – such as the idea that turning people loose in free unregulated markets somehow turns out for the best.

October 2, 2017 14:27
Stanley Fischer with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in Washington in November 2016

Stanley Fischer with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in Washington in November 2016.. (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)


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 AT THE onset of the New Year 5778, we scour the darker shadows of our souls and illuminate them with repentance. Personally, I am repenting for consistently reviling economists − even though I am one. It is time to be more even-handed and show how economists (many of them Jewish) have changed the world for the better and even saved lives.

The Nobel Prize in Economics (officially, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel) was launched in 1969. Since then 78 individuals have won the prize. Of those, 26, one in three, were Jewish or over 150 times the proportion that Jews comprise of the world’s population.

I’ve heard it said that economics is “Jewish engineering.” But Jewish chemists, biologists and physicists are no slouches either. Over a quarter of Nobel winners in medicine and physics have been Jewish and one-fifth of all winners in chemistry as well.


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