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Opinion: Economics Has Done A 'Dismal' Job And 'Failed' America

SPDR S&P 500 ETF ETF:SPY - Opinion: Economics Has Done A 'Dismal' Job And 'Failed' America

Dr. Daniel Altman is a Harvard University educated economist, so when he writes an opinion piece on why the "dismal science" has a done a "dismal job," people should pay close attention to what he has to say.

According to Altman, economics is divided into two camps — there are "positive" questions that have a real quantifiable answer, and then there are "normative" questions in which the answers are essentially "value judgments on points of policy." The problem is that in economics classes, professors focus on former and "usually stop short" of the latter.

He continued that this is most evident in free trade and globalization. Text books will say, rightfully so, that country "A" should engage in trade with country "B" if the benefits to do so outweigh the costs. After all, country "A" would be better off through trade, or at the very least no worse off.

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"Yet the redistribution required to generate this broad improvement in living standards is hardly addressed, or sometimes even mentioned," he wrote. "To do so would be to step into the muddy mire of normative questions.

Then there is the fact that economics and global trade has resulted in the loss of numerous jobs. In fact, this has become a vocal campaigning point among presidential candidates, including republican front-runner Donald Trump.

How Can We Fix The Problem?

According to Altman, these type of questions are "not easy," and "no one has figured out a foolproof way to make workers hurt by globalization whole again."

"Economics has failed you," he wrote. "It has failed you because of ideology, politics, and laziness. It has failed you because its teachings are woefully incomplete, and its greatest exponents have done almost nothing to complete them."

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