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The Language of Economics

I wo uld like to start this article with an apology. In last month’s edition there was a typo which unfortunately changed the meaning of the point I was making. Congratulations to those of you who spotted it! I am referring to the use of the word “endogenous” when of course it should have been “exogenous”. The latter means external to the system, in this case, external to the economic models being used for “managing” the economies of most countries, at least those who subscribe to the neo-classical view of economics.

The use of jargon such as “exogenous” instead of the vernacular, such as “external” is yet another way in which language is used by the establishment, and those who consider themselves part of the elite, to conceal their methods from the public at large.

We have just seen another example of this misuse of language in the recent pronouncements from the International Monetary Fund on the performance of economies, particularly on the performance of the UK. The Guardian newspaper of October 10 stated that the IMF report was a “health check on the wealth of 31 nations”. Note that the metaphor here is that a nation can be sick, in need of treatment, perhaps even in need of drastic treatment. All of this is straight from the neoliberal playbook. But how valid is it to talk of a “health check” on the accounts of a nation? Once again, this is implying that the finances of a state are subject to the same financial constraints as a family household. As we discussed in the previous issue, this is not the case for any state which issues its own sovereign currency. For a detailed analysis of the problems with the IMF neoliberal worldview, have a look at the recent online article from October 18 by Professor Bill Mitchell, entitled IMF continues to tread the ridiculous path. One quote from his article gives you all you need to know about the IMF stress tests of national economies:

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