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Rome: Economists debate Public Happiness

On June 5th the EoC commission interviewed Pier Luigi Porta (from HEIRS) on the two important events of the Genovesian year in Rome.

By Antonella Ferrucci

130604-05 Roma 01 Porta ridThe Public Happiness International Conference came to an end this evening in the Angelicum University in Rome. Tomorrow at the Institute Struzo, another important event of the Genovesian year will take place. Professor Porta, are you satisfied with the outcome of the event?  

Well yes. The Public Happiness conference held this week is one of HEIRS' initiatives; it has promoted events regularly every two months in the last 10 years. The association, named Happiness Economics in Interpersonal Relations, wishes to promote interpersonal relations at the foundation of the economy, and counts on collecting its rich fruits.

The thought of Genovesi, whose 300 birth anniversary we celebrate this year, is among our major inspirations. This year's first Genovesian event took place in Naples, his hometown. After this second event in Rome we will hold a last conference in the Lombard Institute in Milan on November 14. His approach to economics is very up-to-date; it criticizes the core economic principals that have been causing disasters for decades.

International renowned speakers came to this conference. Is Antonio Genovesi appreciated outside of Italy?

130604-05 Roma 03 Platea rid Although lately some researchers on the history of economic thought have studied him, he is rather unknown abroad. Bob Sugden, eminent economist throughout the world, has produced papers on rationality in economics based on Genovesi's thought. HEIRS will soon release a celebration edition of Genovesi's masterwork, Lessons of Civil Economy – he coined the term “Civil Economy” – both in Italian and English. The translation will definitely help to make him better known abroad.

Tomorrow, in the conference at the Institute Struzo there will be a session on politics, is that so?

130604-05 Roma 02 Tris ridGenovesi's thought and the release of the new edition of his “Lessons” will be the main topic of the conference. The minister of labor, economist Enrico Giovannini, will close the event. He is a sympathizer of civil economy, worked at the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) in Paris and was the president of ISTAT (Italian National Institute of Statistics). He led the development of the BES (Equitable and Sustainable Well-Being index), which was released this year. We are happy to have a minister with such background, and expect to work side by side with him.

Is it true that during the conference you will propose an oath for economists similar to the Hippocratic Oath for doctors?

130604-05 Roma 04 Poster rid Yes it is true. Economists committed serious mistakes and many believe they are accountable for the crises of the European and North American economies. There are an uncountable number of articles on this issue (last year the Economist printed out a special report on it). Therefore the role of the economists in the world is at stake. It is a common believe that doctors take large responsibilities as far as people's health and lives are concerned, whereas economists are free to move as long as they do not steal. In reality it isn't so. Economists has influenced public opinion with concepts that fostered our economy and produced perverse systems. Therefore the oath of responsibility for economists is necessary and long overdue.



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