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Still Unsighted

John Rentoul

dogpile 300x199 Still UnsightedFinally, on the subject of Ed Miliband and American football, Daniel Finkelstein (pay wall) has belatedly jumped on the dogpile. Finkelstein says the Labour leader was right in his recent reference to The Blind Side about one big thing:

The Blind Side shows how markets can systematically make pricing errors.

And this is the main theme of all of Lewis’s books.

Liar’s Poker reflects on the foolishness of traders as does The Big ShortThe New, New Thing chronicles the crazy pricing of internet stock during the dotcom boom. And Moneyball looks at how the baseball establishment and its scouts mispriced players and how one clever general manager, Billy Beane, exploited their error.

I hadn’t quite – not fully – seen the consistency of Lewis until I read what Ed Miliband had to say. And I thought it was pretty smart of him.

At the same time, however, his observation was not very smart.

It isn’t, of course, ”the market” that gets things wrong. ”The market” isn’t a thing. It is people acting in the marketplace that get things wrong. The distinction is important. People make mistakes in all circumstances, and they are tenacious once they’ve made them, carrying on with the error long past the point when it should have been obvious that a correction was required.

So the value of the market mechanism depends upon its role in encouraging the error and correcting it.

In The Blind Side, a pricing error is made. And it is then corrected. Indeed that correction is as much a Lewis theme as the error.

For The Blind Side to be an anti-market book, it would have to tell the story of how the mistake persisted despite or even because of the market. In fact, I think Lewis’s point is the opposite.

And for anyone interested in the National Football League as market socialism in action, Alan Beattie’s long article for the Financial Times on the 2008 draft is a joy to read (registration required):

The draft is the supporting beam of a structure which means that one of the most commercialised sports on earth operates as a socialist collective.

Previous posts here and here.

Photograph: Jason Miller-US PRESSWIRE

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  • postageincluded

    When Christians have their self esteem pricked by mention of, say, the Spanish Inquisition or the Wars of Religion, or witch-burning they give a pretty standard response. “That wasn’t real Christianity”.Similarly, when Marxist are reminded of the Great Purge, or the Cultural Revolution, they tell us that “That wasn’t real Communism”.Oh look! The advocates of the transcendental perfection of the “market” have cottoned on to the wheeze too.


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