Why Neither US Candidate Can Present a Detailed Economic Program

Modern economic science lacks the language and theory for creating such programs.  Only Trump is likely to develop a realistic program going forward.

Mon, Aug 22, 2016 | 1552 Comments
I'm married to this guy, and the economy did OK with him 20 years ago, so you know, things will be fine ...

The author is a leading Russian economist, publicist, and TV and radio host. (Wikipedia - Russian only)

Sometimes referred to as the "Russian Paul Krugman", he writes prolifically, and has a very large audience in Russia.  His articles typically receive hundreds of thousands of views.  He is known for explaining complex economic ideas in clear terms non-specialists can understand.  

He is a former senior economist in the presidential administration and a frequent speaker at international conferences.

Let’s start with an old Russian joke: Optimists learn English, pessimists – Chinese, and realists - how to use a Kalashnikov.

To properly evaluate a future Trump or Clinton administration, a realist must ask two questions: 1) What are the economic development models proposed by each candidate, and 2) How successful are they likely to be in implementing them? 

Let’s compare the two candidates:

Hillary Clinton doesn’t provide an economic model at all.  Instead, she proposes to return to the “Golden Age” of the 1990s when her husband was president.  She doesn’t explain how she plans to do this, and doesn’t provide any evidence that this is even possible.  She seems to be saying that 20 years ago her husband was president, and the economy did well then, so by returning to his policies, it will do well again.

In fact, Bill Clinton’s “Golden Age” owed its success to the final global expansion of markets for American companies (thanks to the demolition of the USSR), and therefore cannot be replicated today in any way.  

The reason Hillary doesn’t talk much about economics, (other than the fact that her expertise in the field is rather limited), is that hiding behind her “Golden Age” rhetoric are policies that subsidize Wall Street, which is going through some hard times since the Fed stopped printing dollars in 2014.  Understandably, she has little interest in discussing with Americans whether they should be supporting “banksters” from the shrinking real incomes of 90% of the population.

Conclusion: Clinton provides no serious economic solutions to ordinary Americans (unless they are bankers).  She hides this by appealing to fond memories.  Her economic pitch is one of deception and manipulation.

Donald Trump does somewhat better.  He correctly and honestly says that the current economic model doesn’t work anymore.  In the matter-of-fact language of a businessman, he explains this convincingly, and in terms anyone can understand.  The problem is:  1)  This upsets voters, and 2)  He also does not offer a specific solution.

The reason he can’t come up with anything is that modern economic science doesn’t have any answers.  The reason for this is that the science of economics in the West has for many decades been dominated by banks, and all of their anti-crisis solutions are basically the same: give more money to banks! - thereby boosting the economy.  The economic establishment in the US simply can’t come up with anything else.  Support for Clinton from this sector, and vice-versa, is pre-programmed.

If he gets elected, Trump will have to destroy the bankers’ monopoly on economic science and bring in new thinkers, tasked with providing a new economic program.  Eventually, this will mean creating entirely new schools of economic thought, with research centers to do the heavy lifting. Contemporary economics doesn’t even have the necessary language, let alone concepts, to develop such programs. There is not enough time to do this before the election, so Trump is left with being very non-specific about what he plans to do.  

At least, in this regard, Trump is more honest than Clinton.  He isn’t lying, saying he has a program which doesn’t exist.

So back to our realist from the beginning of this article.  He must admit that both candidates lack a constructive, realistic, economic program. The difference between them is that Trump tells the truth and can develop such a program in the future, whereas Clinton is being untruthful, and has no intention of developing anything.

The choice, of course, lies with the American voter.