One of our great difficulties, whether the subject is climate change or the economy, is the problem of decision-making in the face of uncertainty. We want to know the right answer, and the lack of one makes us uncomfortable. But, as Win Quigley points out, sometimes that’s just the way it is:
Every economist and pundit on every point along the political spectrum has an opinion about economic policy, and some of them are bound to be right. The problem is that there are no controlled experiments in economics. You can’t create a parallel economy to compare against the existing economy to see what works and what doesn’t. You don’t get a clean test tube in which to run your experiments. People do not hold still long enough to allow us to judge their response to new facts on the ground. We can’t stop new data from emerging.
This recession is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The sad fact is that after gathering the data and making the best decisions we can, we’re still flying blind.