Who's Pushing Behavioral Economics in Europe
April 26, 2009 • 12:52PM

There are all sorts of behavioral economics (BE) institutes all over Europe with names such as the Center for Psychoeconomics at the University of Konstanz, but there is a mother organization promoting this disease called the European Network for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics (ENABLE) Most, if not all, of the European institutes overlap with ENABLE in one way or another.

The ENABLE network includes BE institutes at the University of Amsterdam, the University of Zurich, by Round Table member Ernst Fehr; the Institut d'Economie Industrielle, France; Stockholm School of Economics; University of Munich; University of Mannheim which holds the annual Mannheim Empirical Research Summer School, where Daniel Kahneman and David Laibson, and Germany's Urs Fischbacher and Martin Weber, and other BEs have taught.

This is an incestuous bunch, mostly academics, who know each other from conferences, joint research etc. Coming up with strange stuff such as a research paper of the Swedish BE leader Magnus Johannesson entitled: "A Randomized Trial of the Effect of Estrogen and Testosterone on Economic behavior," it is not advised to delve too deeply into these details.

Far more interesting is the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), a member of ENABLE that serves as its coordinator.

With its headquarters in London, it is a network of 725 economists of all types based in universities in Europe and elsewhere. Many of these economists find their way into various central banks with which CEPR works very closely. These researchers work out of their own institutions. As with most things evil, it is funded by the European Commission and most of Europe's central banks, and 33 private financial institutions, including Credit Suisse, Barclays, BNP Paribas, UBS, and Lloyds TSB.

CEPR fellows end up attached to central banks, various government-sponsored economic commissions, and hold advisory positions at the European Commission. Two of fellows received positions on the boards of the central banks. Anne Sibert, who is British and a professor at Birkbeck College, was named to the board of the Central Bank of Iceland; Jean-Pierre Danthine, of the University of Lausanne, to the National Bank of Switzerland; and Karolina Ekholm was named Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sweden.

CEPR was founded in 1983 by Richard Portes, currently professor of economics at London Business School. Having been a Rhodes Scholar and fellow at Oxford's Balliol College, he belongs to the heritage of the real Round Table of Lord Milner and Cecil Rhodes. Among the graduates of Balliol, which was one of the cradles of the Round Table, were Adam Smith, and Julian and Aldous Huxley. Portes has taught at Harvard and Princeton, the cradles of the other round table, and was named a Commander of the British Empire in 2003. He was the longest serving secretary of the Royal Economic Society since John Maynard Keynes.

Among the trustees of CEPR are Petr Aven, chairman of Russia's Alfa Bank and one of Russia's leading "Reformers"; Guillermo de la Dehesa, chairman of the Anglophile Banco Santander, member of the Group of 30, and Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs; British MP Quentin Davies, is a former Conservative Party MP who crossed over to Labour. He is now an state secretary in the Defense Ministry for procurement, a position in which he interacts with BAE; our old enemy Fransco Giavazzi, of the Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Resrearch, and a major target of Tremonti; Pehr Gyllenhammar, the man who bankrupted Volvo and is now with Rothschild Europe; Herman Verwilst, the man responsible for the bankruptcy of Fortis bank, which required France, Belgium and the Netherlands to bail it out. These are all top neo-liberal economists who would be targets of any European Pecora Commission.