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Policy

In: Business and Management

Submitted By anitarawal
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Economics provides us with true policies, of the type if A, then B, then C, etc. Some of these policies are true all the time, i.e., A always holds (the law of diminishing marginal utility, time preference, etc.). Others require A to be established as true before the consequents can be affirmed in practice. The person who identifies economic policies in practice and uses them to explain complex economic fact is, then, acting as an economic historian rather than as an economic theorist. He is an historian when he seeks the casual explanation of past facts; he is a forecaster when he attempts to predict future facts. In either case, he uses absolutely true policies, but must determine when any particular law applies to a given situation.Furthermore, the laws are necessarily qualitative rather than quantitative, and hence, when the forecaster attempts to make quantitative predictions, he is going beyond the knowledge provided by economic science. It has not often been realized that the functions of the economist on the free market differ sharply from those of the economist on the hampered market. What can the economist do on the purely free market? He can explain the workings of the market economy (a vital task, especially since the untutored person tends to regard the market economy as sheer chaos), but he can do little else. Contrary to the pretensions of many economists, he is of little aid to the businessman. He cannot forecast future consumer demands and future costs as well as the businessman; if he could, then he would be the businessman. The entrepreneur is where he is precisely because of his superior forecasting ability on the market. The pretensions of econometricians and other “model-builders” that they can precisely forecast the economy will always founder on the simple but devastating query: “If you can forecast so well, why are you not doing so on the stock market, where accurate forecasting reaps such rich rewards? It is beside the point to dismiss such a query—as many have done—by calling it “anti-intellectual”; for this is precisely the acid test of the would-be economic oracle.

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