From a new economics paper by Harvard’s Dani Rodrik, the concession that novelists do a better job than economists in predicting the financial future. The author highlights Gary Shteyngart’s dystopically fun latest novel.
Novelists have a better track record than economists at foretelling the future. Consider then Gary Shteyngart’s timely comic novel “Super Sad True Love Story” (Random House, 2010), which provides a rather graphic vision of what lies in store for the world economy. The novel takes place in the near future and is set against the backdrop of a United States that lies in economic and political ruin. The country’s bankrupt economy is ruled with a firm hand by the IMF from its new Parthenon-shaped headquarters in Singapore. China and sovereign wealth funds have parceled America’s most desirable real estate among themselves. Poor people are designated as LNWI (“low net worth individuals”) and are being pushed into ghettoes. Even skilled Americans are desperate to acquire residency status in foreign lands. (A degree in econometrics helps a lot, as it turns out). Ivy League colleges have adopted the names of their Asian partners and yuan-backed dollars are the only safe currency.