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Intergovernmental Panel on Economics

Ross McKitrick has posted up a paper he wrote ahead of the Lisbon conference on reconciliation among climatologists. It's quite short, but quite pointed. I liked this bit.

Suppose the International Monetary Fund (IMF) created an economics version of the IPCC, which proceeded to issue an Assessment Report and Summary for Policymakers every five years that was promoted as the consensus view of what “every mainstream economist believes.” Suppose further that the IMF was committed to one particular school of economic thought, such as New Keynesianism, that they ensured that all the lead authors of the IMF report were dedicated New Keynesians, and that the report inevitably concluded the New Keynesians are right and their critics are wrong (or do not even exist). And finally, suppose that the IMF report was sponsored and endorsed by government departments who benefited by promotion of New Keynesian ideas, and that major funding agencies and  university oversight agencies also began to endorse, support and promulgate the views in the IMF report.

It should be obvious that all of this would, over time, degrade the intellectual climate in the economics profession. It would do so even if New Keynesianism is true—and moreso otherwise. Members of the research community would be forced to respond to the warped incentives created by such a dominant institution by embracing, or at least paying lip service to, New Keynesianism. Over time it would be costlier and costlier to be publicly identified as a critic of New Keynesianism, and as critics became marginalized by political forces the IMF’s declaration of a “consensus” would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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    Ross McKitrick has posted up a paper he wrote ahead of the Lisbon conference on reconciliation among climatologists. It's quite short, but quite pointed. I liked this bit. Suppose the International Monetary Fund (IMF) created an economics version o

Reader Comments (21)

I liked this bit...

"In light of the distortions the IPCC is creating, and its apparent
unwillingness to undertake reform, I do not know how this situation can be resolved without shutting
down the IPCC altogether."

Feb 8, 2011 at 12:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

Trust an 'outsider' of the calibre of Ross McKittrick to get to the point, in a succinct statement.

I'd like to know how the participants at that conference viewed this.
Having followed the debates at Judy Curry's blog, I think this proposal would do far more for 'reconciliation' than endless talks about PNS (Post Normal Science).

Feb 8, 2011 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Very clearly thought out, bravo! I thought that Ross was a college professor?

Feb 8, 2011 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterRedbone

What Ross describes fits what happened in Russia in 1917!

Feb 8, 2011 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie

Yes Bernie, I was just going to comment, "Hasn't this happened already at some time or other?"

Feb 8, 2011 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France


What Ross describes is almost what happened in many developed economies. Instead of it being the IMF it was the Bank of International Settlements cooking up a consensus with the connivance of many elected and unelected representatives. Governments looked the other way on bad banking practices and an enormous debt mountain and stuffed many mouths with taxpayer gold to achieve it.

It has also distorted the 'popular' view as the media portrays it. What are described as cuts in public spending are often just a lower rate of growth in public spending.

Feb 8, 2011 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

An excellent hypothetical parallel and chillingly accurate This must have been either a party-stopper or primed the discussion - nobody there could have remained disengaged in the face of such ruthless logic.

Feb 8, 2011 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Rational dissent - Joseph Priestley would be proud.

Feb 8, 2011 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

On economics.. The Carbonundrums session has just had an economics segment by Karine Nyborg using game theory to discuss co-operation, reciprocity and the free rider problem wrt climate legislation. Premis seemed to be that people generally would co-operate happily, if there were no free riders. So legislating rather than relying on volunteering may be better. No free riders if it's the law, unless it's a bad law that allows a different form of free riding by rent-seeking, ie profiting from carbon trading, carbon offsetting, energy subsidies etc. One reason I, and I suspect others object to some climate related legislation is I'm expected to pay whilst others don't just free-ride, they profit, and the ones that profit are often behind the legislation. The science then just gets used as a marketing tool.

Feb 8, 2011 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

It becomes The Big Lie as defined by Dr Goebbels:
"“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

I posted this quote the other day re BBC attitudes on programmes about AGW. It remains apt.

Feb 8, 2011 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

Talking about the IMF: now you know how Austrian economists feel!

Feb 8, 2011 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrederick Davies

Ross's example, as someone already alluded to, is already in place in how loans and grants are evaluated allocated by the various development banks with serious distortions to capital markets. In a form of Gresham's Law, green projects drive out surplus producing projects.

Feb 8, 2011 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie

Following on from the David Henderson Taxonomy thread, now this impressive summary from Ross McKitrick, we also have sympathy for Monckton and Delingpole from the economist quarter with a comparison to pre-reformation religion/heretics in the International Business Times:

Feb 8, 2011 at 3:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Intellectual Freedom - hard won over the ages, easily lost under the Church of CAGW.

Feb 8, 2011 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

The same reason we have no no bl**dy fish left!

Feb 8, 2011 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

If 97% of the world's economists agreed on something wouldn't you take notice of that? If the differing schools of economic thought coalesced around a single framework wouldn't that be significant? Economics is not yet a fully objective science. It is value laden and data gathering is very incomplete. These are not the case in climatology. There are a few outlier individuals but there really aren't competing schools around the basic mechanisms of climate change. As in any field there is a need for more data, but their is sufficient data for a consensus to emerge. There is robust debate around certain issues, e.g., the distribution of warming in Antarctica. But like evolutionary biology climatology is a mature science. The opposition to them overwhelmingly correlates with certain ideological perspectives.

Feb 8, 2011 at 10:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike

"But like evolutionary biology climatology is a mature science."

A rather tough day here, Mike, but thanks for the laugh to end it.

Feb 8, 2011 at 11:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Wood

This line of analysis is absolutely beautiful. Reduced to absurdity.

Feb 9, 2011 at 3:05 AM | Unregistered Commenterpreed


"But like evolutionary biology climatology is a mature science."

A rather tough day here, Mike, but thanks for the laugh to end it.

You should spend more time reading the science than about the science. I suggest you check out the topic Epigenetics. Worth a read even though it is a Wikipedia page. I think that is what Jeff Wood was alluding to, but it is just one reason why evolutionary biology is far from a mature science. It is going through a major upheaval and much we did not understand clearly will become clearer.

Feb 9, 2011 at 3:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Echoing commenter Frederick Davies, this is more or less exactly what happened. 'Mainstream economists' are uniformly scathing of (and ignore the teachings of) the Austrian school of economics, which describes credit cycles like the one we've just been at the sharp end of over the last 2-3 years. That's why no mainstream economists were able to understand what was driving the credit crunch, and why it got so bad.

Chapter 8 of George Soros' 'The Alchemy of Finance' (first published in 1987) describes in detail ex ante what happened in 2007-9, but he subscribes to a non-mainstream school of economics, and every economist that has a seat at the policy table ignores peripheral views.

The parallels to climate science are stunning.

Feb 9, 2011 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterThomas

Certainly the IPCC is the core of the problem. That has been obvious for a long time. The charter of the IPCC (created by 2 UN orgs) is to find man made global warming and how that warming negatively impacts us. It was never a purely scientific organization that was about climate science. It has always been structured to be controlled by the politicians of the world's governments to produce a "scientific" rationale to force the productive economies of the world to pay (to the less affluent countries) for the CO2 emissions they produce and to force the Western economies to de-industrialize somewhat.

It is appalling that climate scientists have played along so willingly with these political machinations of the eco fanatics. It seems likely that part of the reason is that many of the most influential climate scientists (such as Hansen) agree with the political goals of the eco fanatics.

In the USA, we are pressuring House Republicans to reduce EPA funding (mostly to try to stop the EPA from regulating CO2 emissions) and to force the EPA to stop outsourcing climate science to the IPCC. We are also pushing the House to investigate the IPCC.

Feb 10, 2011 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Koch

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