Why have economists got things so wrong?

What is ‘guessonomics’?? 

And what are the dangers of groupthink?

In this week’s 5 Big Questions interview we talk to Ivy League professor, global economics expert and former Bank of England adviser PROFESSOR DAVID G “DANNY” BLANCHFLOWER CBE.



  • Twitter: @D_Blanchflower

Known for:

  • Professor David Blanchflower on 21st century economics + decision-makingBruce V Rauner Professor of Economics – Dartmouth College, New Hampshire (USA)
  • Research Associate – National Bureau of Economic Research (USA)
  • Contributing Editor – Bloomberg TV
  • Former Member of the Monetary Policy Committee – Bank of England
  • Author – The Wage Curve

The 5 Big Questions:

Measuring change How do you measure the impact of what you do?

Ready for anything - future proofingHow should people/businesses be preparing for the future?

Skills, talent & opportunityHow do we build the workforce we need for that future?

Embedded innovationHow do you use creativity to solve problems?

Bold connections, collaborationHow do you collaborate?

Key quotes:

“Try and think about the wellbeing of ordinary people. What would benefit ordinary people? And oftentimes that runs in contrast to what central bankers and others are doing. Very often they represent the interest of banks and hedge funds.” 

“Great, I thought your job was to not cause recessions!”

“Often all they’re doing is just making it up. This is all about ‘guessonomics’. If you’re going to forecast the weather, the reason you can do that is you’ve got past data on weather patterns that tell you what’s coming. We’re in a situation where we’ve got no data points. Basically we’re running blind.” 

“When ideas are complicated and the situation is uncertain, you probably should worry if you hear everyone at both the Bank of England and at the Fed in the United States saying the same thing, that sounds awfully like groupthink.”

“Write papers that address real world practical problems. If you can’t characterise that it’s better off doing something else. In many cases the economist would’ve been better off delivering pizza than writing these silly papers. I said that once and somebody said to me, no that would be a really bad idea. If we gave economists the pizza delivery job, they’d just deliver it to the wrong house.”

This episode was recorded in May 2022

Interviewer: Richard Freeman for always possible

Editor: CJ Thorpe-Tracey for Lo Fi Arts


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