Church street, Hartlepool. September 2021.
"Economists surprised the public also with their cavalier attitude toward the plight of small businesses, devastated by lockdowns. The profession’s central tenets rest on the virtues of competition. Yet economists’ foremost wonder about the intense duress experienced by small businesses during lockdowns seems to have been whether the closures will have a “cleansing” effect by eliminating the worst-performing firms first. To the dismay of many, the dismal science has had very little to say about how lockdowns have favoured big business and what this will mean for market competition and consumer well-being in the years to come.
Economists’ reluctance to challenge policies that favour big business is regrettable yet understandable. Increasingly, we economists work for big business—the digital giants in particular. We send our students to work for Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and Google, and we count it a great success when they land jobs with those prestigious companies. Being on good terms with these companies is important also because of these companies’ data and computational resources. Both are now crucial for successful publishing and associated career advancement in economics. Rare is the economist who is immune to the power wielded by the digital giants within the economics profession."