Do Economists Need A Code Of Ethics?

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Here & Now Guest:

  • George DeMartino, professor of international economics at the University of Denver and author of "The Economist's Oath: On the need for and content of professional economic ethics."

It's being called the "Inside Job Effect." Some economists are calling for a code of ethics after the Oscar-winning documentary, "Inside Job," portrayed them receiving millions of dollars from companies, serving on boards and getting funding for research, without revealing their financial ties or conflicts of interest.

At an annual meeting of economists, a committee was appointed to develop standards of transparency for the profession.

George DeMartino, of the University of Denver, was at the meeting and says his fellow economists need to think more deeply and widely about ethics.  He says the work of economists has a profound impact on actual human lives and that impact can be devastating when policies don't work out as imagined.

DeMartino says that large scale economic reforms are essentially a form of social experiment and experiments need to be carried out with the full consent of the people, who have to deal with the aftermath.  DeMartino adds that economists also suffer from a herd mentality that stifles meaningful debate within the profession, something he says helped fuel the 2008 financial meltdown.

This segment aired on June 29, 2011.


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