My economic testament
In my book, Le testament d’un économiste désabusé [Testament of a disillusioned economist], that is in fact a glossary of economies in crisis, you will not find under the letter C the term ‘Coronavirus’, nor the economic and social consequences of this health crisis or of its management by our authorities. While this ‘testament’ doesn’t make reference to Covid-19, this is simply because it was made ready for publication a few months before this global event. And you will therefore notice how the – generally timid and indecisive – measures taken by Europe largely go along with what I have been tirelessly advising for years, since 2008.
I thought I was seeing things and had to rub my eyes when I saw the stimulus packages and gargantuan spending measures doled out by France and Germany during this crisis. Had they finally read my numerous analyses, had an intern got out and compiled together my exhortations about spending and debt that I’ve consistently put forward as the only ways to recover from a crisis? And yet, while writing these lines and while the ‘testament’ is being finalised for publication, the dust is settling, our leaders’ enthusiasm for recovery is cooling off, and we are starting to talk about fiscal responsibility again, about the public accounts and other pension reforms. In short, we are preparing a return to the idea of every-man-for-himself that threatens our democracy with death by strangulation. Being right before everyone else doesn’t mean a jot if we fail to change the course of events.
As the reader will notice through his reading, the economy is – for me, in any case – often political, and should not get muddled up in too many equations whose main aim is in truth to distance it from the public and the average citizen, when it should in fact be entirely at their service. This book can be read from start to finish, consulted on a specific topic, put down and picked back up again to look up another topic, and so on. It is crucial to inform and teach our citizens about economics, that is decidedly not a science. It is only when the great masses of our compatriots understand these notions that they will finally be able to make a difference, steer the course, make objections and proposals; in short they will be able to take their economic and financial destiny into their own hands. It is therefore time to react, to inform oneself, and to learn, because the tools are all there: you just have to get up and use them. Not necessarily to break with neoliberalism, or to reduce inequalities, that are both just the results of our leaders’ negligence, but to leave our children with a better future and so that we might finally live comfortably from our work.
This is therefore my testament, as I do not wish to be around for what will be the series finale. And also because I really have the feeling – not to cry in the wilderness since I in no way claim to possess the innate science – but I am almost certain that there is a total absence of motivation among the overwhelming majority of you to act, if only just an iota of what you believe in turns out to be a formula that works, that has admittedly sometimes been wide of the mark, but that in return does fulfil its end of the bargain. A testament is by nature a gift; you can do what you want with it, dear reader, but you cannot say you haven’t been warned.