Buzzword of the week: Technocracy – and why it might not be a good thing

With the installation (yet to be confirmed in both countries) of what are being called “technoractic governments” in Italy and Spain, a lot of financial commentators are throwing around this new buzz word.

I had to look it up as I’ve never heard of it before. But a technocratic government is essentially one that has expertise in a given field. It could be engineering, health or what have you. In both Greece and Italy’s case, it is economic expertise as both Monti and Papademos are economists.

Some are hailing this as really good news, “finally we have some economists who understand how to fix this”.

But Monti was formerly a high ranking official with the European Commission and Papademos is a former VP at the European Central Bank. Last time I checked, these two entities were  part of the reason we have these economic problems in the first place.

Just sayin’.

Preet Banerjee
Preet Banerjee
...is an independent consultant to the financial services industry and a personal finance commentator. You can learn more about Preet at his personal website and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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Showing 9 comments
  • Value Indexer

    If a technocratic government is run by people who are good at something, what’s the opposite? :)

    • Preet

      Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none-acratic. Obviously. ;)

  • Sinistra

    There used to be a small booth promoting Technocracy in HUB mall at the U of A in the late 1980’s.
    Promoting an energy based economy.
    No dollars – just ergs and joules!
    Wikipedia the term – and maybe make a donation to Wikipedia while you are at it – a great non tax deductible investment!
    I’m guessing that a world run by economists is going to be pretty bleak.

    • Preet

      Watt an enlightened platform. :)

  • Thicken My Wallet

    Spoke to a hedge fund manager who thinks that this crisis is nothing more than an opportunity for people to seize more power.

    • Preet

      I think what technical proficiency is had, might be offset by a lack of political chops. So if someone were a brilliant economist but couldn’t get support that’s another problem. The best politicians are the ones who know how to get things pushed through. I’d say the best politicians are the ones who do the most good for people, but I’m far too jaded for that.

    • Sinistra

      The thesis of Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

  • D. Haynes

    Your definition is slightly off. It is not government by those with expertise in a particular area, but rather government by those with “presumed” expertise. While appointing these people may seem a reasonable course of action in light of the failure of governments to deal with the financial crisis, it is problematic for two reasons: first, the countries turning to so-called experts are democracies and any interference in the democratic process is a turn toward authoritarianism of some sort (not unlike Nazi Germany, not to put too fine a point on it); and, secondly, the expertise can only be assumed since it was quite clearly due to the influence of these so-called experts that led to the problems we are now dealing with. If anyone is to be given a favoured role in these circumstance it is arguably leaders in other fields with some degree of common sense since they are likely to be free of the biases that led to the current crisis. Technocracies never work for anyone other than the technocrats as is all too well demonstrated by the CEOs of the big banks whose fortunes have not only not diminished in the economic meltdown they played such a big part in creating but in fact have flourished. Appointing technocrats is a bad, bad idea although unfortunately quite predictable given the reluctance of ordinary citizens to learn more about the economics of the modern world.

    • Preet

      Very good points D – thanks for commenting.