Inside the Crystal ball of finance: Understanding financial economists' attitudes to market and society

Market economists are thought to wield tremendous power - not only over financial markets but over governments that stray from the market way. Still, there is mystery about what economists think, and how they form their judgments. This article reports results from a survey of over 50 financial market economists from leading financial institutions in Australia conducted in December 2003 and January 2004. It provides insight into the opinions of economists who impact on markets and policy, especially through media commentary. The article identifies their economic and social views, comparing them with the Australian public. We then examine how professional views of economists differ from their personal views. Differences in professional and private views - especially over the role of government and labor markets - are an opportunity to ponder how judgments are formed and used. We offer tentative answers to the question: do these professionals - highly paid for their opinions - occasionally self-censor?
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