26 September 2012

Robert Johnson: Economists As Marketeers for the Monied Interests

Economics is a disgraced profession because of the actions of a few that were tolerated by many, too often for the sake of grants, appointments, and academic timidity. Careerism.

I would not give many of the Wall Street friendly economists too much credit for an obsession with abstract thinking and even dogmatic blindness, but much moreso a willingly cynical preoccupation with temporal honors, prestige, power, and money handed out by the financial interests in a bubble economy of their own creation.

And there is a fitting emblem for this hubris, the cult of the self, with the long tenure of Alan Greenspan at the Federal Reserve. 

A bureaucrat who is in a position of power for far too long can become a debilitating influence not only on their particular area or department, but on a profession as a whole.  One might think of it as the J. Edgar Hoover syndrome.

Robert Johnson serves as the Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) and a Senior Fellow and Director of the Global Finance Project for the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in New York.

Johnson is an international investor and consultant to investment funds on issues of portfolio strategy. He recently served on the United Nations Commission of Experts on International Monetary Reform under the Chairmanship of Joseph Stiglitz.

Previously, Johnson was a Managing Director at Soros Fund Management where he managed a global currency, bond and equity portfolio specializing in emerging markets. Prior to working at Soros Fund Management, he was a Managing Director of Bankers Trust Company managing a global currency fund.

Johnson served as Chief Economist of the US Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of Chairman William Proxmire (D. Wisconsin). Before this, he was Senior Economist of the US Senate Budget Committee under the leadership of Chairman Pete Domenici (R. New Mexico).

Johnson was an Executive Producer of the Oscar winning documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side, directed by Alex Gibney, and is the former President of the National Scholastic Chess Foundation. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of both the Economic Policy Institute and the Campaign for America’s Future.

Johnson received a Ph.D. and M.A. in Economics from Princeton University and a B.S. in both Electrical Engineering and Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.