Paul Seabright

Paul Seabright is a professor of economics at the University of Toulouse-1.

Who is the villain? the new economy

Paul Seabright, 22 August 2002

Of the many fantasies provoked by the spread of the Internet, few are creepier than the vision of a world in which every relationship can be dissolved at the click of a mouse. Yet the click might also seem liberating, empowering even, to the person doing the clicking. Robert Reich’s book is about the consequences, for our work and our lives, of the so-called new economy and – more...

Diary: What Explosion?

Paul Seabright, 1 November 2001

On 21 September, the day of the explosion, I should not have been in Toulouse at all. I was due to be in America, where a conference that involved many people flying long distances was being held in a defiant gesture of business as usual. My excuse seemed curiously convenient. ‘You fell off a bridge?’ There were no external traces, barely even a bruise, just a tendency to wince...

In the Languedoc there is a vineyard that teaches us an important lesson about textbook learning and its application to the world. In the early Seventies it was bought by a wealthy couple, who consulted professors Emile Peynaud and Henri Enjalbert, the world’s leading academic oenologist and oenological geologist respectively. Between them these men convinced the couple that their new vineyard had a theoretically ideal microclimate for wine-making. When planted with theoretically ideal vines whose fruits would be processed in the optimal way according to the up-to-date science of oenology, this vineyard had the potential to produce wine to match the great first growths of Bordeaux. The received wisdom that great wine was the product of an inscrutable (and untransferable) tradition was quite mistaken, the professors said: it could be done with hard work and a fanatical attention to detail. The couple, who had no experience of wine-making but much faith in professorial expertise, took a deep breath and went ahead.

The Operatic Theory of History: a new Russia

Paul Seabright, 26 November 1998

The current crisis in Russia and the near-unanimous pessimism it has generated about the country’s prospects make this an unfortunate time to be reviewing two books with titles as upbeat as Rebirth of a Nation and Resurrection. Curiously, though, neither book has dated as much as one might have expected since the events of last August – which is to say that the crisis has told us little we did not know, at least in outline, before.’

Down with deflation!

Paul Seabright, 12 December 1996

The power of central bankers – about which Edward Luttwak wrote in the LRB of 14 November – arises not just from their control over important aspects of economic policy, but also from the acceptance by the rest of us of what they may legitimately do in the exercise of this control. Until recently, our acceptance of the notion that central bankers should be committed to price stability has been entirely uncritical; and price stability (not low, but zero inflation) is what the European Central Bank will be required to maintain. But now that European Monetary Union suddenly looks a real, even an imminent possibility, a skirmish has broken out among economists about whether price stability is what monetary policy should be required to achieve.

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