There exists an old adage, “familiarity breeds contempt”. While my own view is that it can also be a stimulant for compassion, I think the adage can be applied to almost every profession today – politicians, lawyers, bankers, accountants, police officers and so on.
But for me – in both a professional and news-watching sense – the profession of which I have become most contemptuous is without doubt that of the economist. It says a great deal about the practice of economics that – of the last four shocks the capitalist system has undergone, and the collapse of the USSR – not a single ‘respected’ economist saw them coming. As an adman, I worked alongside client economists, all but two of whom seemed expert at explaining the past, but never had less than eight alternative views on the future. The two that were usually right about what was coming formed their own companies – going on to work on a hugely successful multiple retailer transformation in one case, and developing a brand-leading product innovation on the other. Continue reading