In January 2010 I will, DV, start a new career as Chief Economist at Citi. Unlike my predecessor in that position, Lewis Alexander, who was based in New York City, I shall be based in London.
As a consequence of this career move, Maverecon will be mothballed. That is the logical implication of brand integrity and credibility. In Maverecon I wrote under the cover of ‘academic immunity’ . Academics have no duty other than to state the truth as they see it – to ‘speak truth to power’. This gives them the ability to be undiplomatic, blunt, tactless and outspoken in ways that are unacceptable in the wider world – the world of grown-ups.
When I served on the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England (between 1997 and 2000) and during my years as Chief Economist and Special Counsellor to the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (2000 till 2005), I was constrained in what I could say and write in public by institutional loyalty and the moral and professional obligation not to damage the organisation I served. Unlike my Maverecon blog, my writings and public statements of those years therefore don’t contain words like ‘complete bollocks’.
The joys of academic freedom and irresponsibility include the ability to participate in public debate using expressive, forceful language, strong metaphors, analogues and similes, to go over the top from time to time, to overstate the case and over-egg the pudding and not to worry about giving offense to the high and mighty. Because of their sheltered existence, academics can be reckless with impunity in their excursions into the forum of public opinion.
Inevitably, during my years with the MPC and the EBRD, both the form and substance of my public statements were more constrained than during my academic episodes before and after. The same will be true during the years to come with Citi.
I will continue to write and publish fast and furiously and to speak out in public on the issues of the day. I plan to contribute regularly again to Martin Wolf’s Economists Forum, to write columns left, right and centre and perhaps even to start another blog. But it won’t be Maverecon because it cannot be Maverecon.
It’s been fun blogging with you.