Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

From Political Advocacy to ‘Alternative Facts’: A Comment on Hannes Gissurarson’s Method


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Hannes H. Gissurarson has been very active in political advocacy in Iceland, spreading laissez-faire libertarianism or market fundamentalism. Gissurarson’s aim in his present paper is to glorify the reform program that his ideological companion Davíð Oddsson embarked on between 1991 and 2004. Gissurarson also directs his missiles at two of many critics of their neoliberal experiment. I am one of these two. Gissurarson repeats here a number of spins and criticisms that he has directed at my empirical works over the past 15 years, works inconvenient for Oddsson and his allies. Gissurarson is known to be very aggressive and reckless in his political advocacy. He frequently misrepresents others’ writings, takes comments out of context, ignores academic ethics in debates, and bends statistics and other facts in his favour; that is, he creates ‘alternative facts’ that have no base in reality. That is his method of political advocacy. Thus he credits Oddsson with reforms or changes that he had nothing or very little to do with. Gissurarson has also tried repeatedly to hide inconvenient consequences of the “reform” program, such as increased income inequality, increased tax burden for lower and middle income groups, and greatly lowered tax burden on top incomes. The laissez-faire orientation of Oddsson’s governments facilitated the emergence of an excessive bubble economy, which led to a collapse of Iceland’s financial system, with massive costs for ordinary households and the state.

This article is a response to Anti-Liberal Narratives About Iceland, 1991–2017 by Hannes H. Gissurarson (EJW, September 2017).