Casey Mulligan and Tomas Philipson open their op-ed on how free markets provided answers to the Wuhan Virus (my term, not theirs) that government gave us with this remark:
Economists are trained to believe that the purpose of government policy is to correct market failures….
No. Economists are trained to answer the question of what are the likely outcomes given a set of economic/economic-related inputs.
Political economists are trained to answer the question of what, if anything, ought be done about those outcomes. Sadly, political economists increasingly are “trained” to believe that every outcome needs something done about it and that every doer must needs be Government. Political economists are increasingly incapable of understanding that, in a free market, minimally regulated, economy, unfavorable outcomes are, in the very broad main, self-correcting, and favorable outcomes are, in the very broad main, self-perpetuating. They miss the fact that the actual actors in those economies, the individuals, make in their free market aggregation sound decisions.
That’s what comes from the invisible hand that somebody wrote about some years ago. That’s what political economists no longer understand.