Skip to content

Economist as Monkey With Typewriter

MisessketchLudwig von Mises, Frederich Hayek and other Austrians believed in the foolishness and errors inherent in attempting to macromanage an economy. None, however, expressed their objections quite as colorfully as Seth Klarman:

QOTD: "Modern economies are too complex to be reliably modeled; their connections and correlations are loose and imprecise, the second- and third-order effects largely immeasurable, the fickle vagaries of individual and aggregate human behavior utterly unknowable. Put an economist in a powerful government job and provide levers that can be pulled to start the printing presses, set reserve requirements, fiddle with the Fed funds rate, expand the Fed’s balance sheet, and deliver indecipherable communiqués, and that economist will feel compelled to pull those levers.

He or she, like a monkey with a typewriter, might even give us Shakespeare (or Adam Smith) on occasion. But mostly that economist will spout gibberish, a mélange of untested and potentially counterproductive measures that unleash all manner of unintended consequences.

Were the meddling to actually remedy the targeted deficiency, it might well be at the cost of dangerous feedback loops and unexpected ripples growing beneath the surface into the incipient waves of tomorrow’s much larger problems." —Seth Klarman, "Why Ben Bernanke Is Like A Monkey"

H/T to Doug Ross