Polarising Bear

The Irish Times profiles Constantin Gurdgiev in this article.

35 replies on “Polarising Bear”

This is quite funny because it doesn’t say the one thing that everyone thinks as he smoulders away on telly in his stylish clothes and shakes that fashionably long hair off those fabulous cheek bones while we lean forward all the better to interpret his thick accent and marvel at the wide vocabulary…

A handsome economist!!!!!

“Love to listen to him” she says.

Yes Louise 😉

I wonder two things, what on earth made the IT write this about you at this point in time, is this the beginning of a series, Ireland’s non-conformist economists?

I also intend to think that in times of ‘peak-everything’ the post cold war right-left classification has outlived any usefulness. If we want to achieve a new social consent worth mentioning, then we all have to bring our thoughts to the table, like you started with your Manifesto, which was not even mentioned in this IT article.

Ah well…. just another day in Absurdistan! ;o)

“he has made no attempt to understand the Irish mentality at all”

that’s probably the number one reason why we should listen to him. he’s not infected

No mention of his climate-change skepticism which is also fashionably right wing (sieg Lomborg etc.)

As a colleague and friend of Dr G, its not a bad portrait. His website is trueeconomics.blogspot.com however.

Starting with conclusions and working backwards. Isn’t that more like religion than science?

One would never discuss a student that was under ones supervision in a public forum. At least, I wouldnt.

@Rory O’
I believe that comment about CG was made by a critic of his. I think it’s reasonably easy to guess the ideology of the critic too.

From reading CG I don’t think it’s an accurate criticism, more plain old insult.

@ Hugh Sheehy

I wouldn’t know if its true or not, just going on whats in the paper (which of course isn’t always correct, especially how they capitalise the word ‘state’).

I think we all have our own particular perspective hardwired into how we analyse things, which is fine. Just so long as people don’t start from the framework of their answer is correct, and then try to justify it by going backwards.

First, we had celebrities who were celebrated for, well, being celebrities, media kittens, celtic tiger cub types, who really don’t ‘do’ that much beyond being seen out and about in fashionable restaurants and bars and dating or breaking up with non-entities as emptyheaded as they are themselves and all that sort of thing. Next, we had media celebrities, some of whom got the notion that only they could save the nation, because they were household names and when they appeared on screen behind a microphone to deliver their solemn prognostications on how the country might solve its problems, the people clapped and cheered and loved them and believed in them… and we all know what happened after that. Lately, politicians cast themselves as celebrities, doing Agony Aunt columns in the Sunday Independent magazine, twittering and blogging and reporting themselves as ‘starring’ at events, who can’t see a microphone without experiencing an overwhelming urge to blather, even if sensible people other than themselves are in fear for their own sanity from the deluge of blather they are daily subjected to. Now, it appears that its the turn of the economists to strut their stuff on the national celebrity circuit, the latest being that floppy-haired Russian chap with the difficult-to-prononouce surname while several others are probably preening themselves in the wings waiting for their moment in the limelight, which will naturally be good for their careers, even if they don’t have much to say that’s of much use to anyone.

I’m packing my bags.

The thing about those who fall prey to the lure of celebrity, and whose celebrity status is without the substance of any lasting achievement in original thought or for the betterment of the human condition, is that in the end they confuse the image they’ve created of themselves through the media with the reality of who they are or what they are. They go out of fashion too, eventually, which is when they find out they don’t really have any friends. All a bit sad really.

Oh, veronica, I’m touched by your quaint loyalty to such an outmoded concept as use value. Lasting achievement?!? Is anything more lasting than Jedward? Well who are we to say when The Market has spoken? For, as everyone on this blog (and even Dr Gurdgiev himself!) can tell you, market value is the only kind of value there is. Where there is no market, there is no value. Celebrity is the ultimate measure of the market value of human beings and Gurdgiev is just being entirely consistent in this regard.

@ veronica

It can be amazing to find true hereos in obituaries who would be unknowns compared with the likes of Paris Hilton and others.

Maurice Hilleman developed about 40 vaccines for common diseases during his professional life and saved millions of lives.

Last September, an 89 year old woman died alone, and unknown as she had wished, in Torquay.

Police discovered a Croix de Guerre that had been awarded by the French government, in her flat.


@Georg R Baumann,

You write:

[I]n times of ‘peak-everything’ the post cold war right-left classification has outlived any usefulness.

As a gut-feeling libertarian who has been mugged by peak oil, I’m inclined to agree with you. But Constantin Gurdgiev certainly shines out as a light unto this endarkened nation when compared with the run-of-the-mill Irish economists who three or four years ago were confident that a mortgage crisis ‘couldn’t happen here’. As you say, it’s not a matter of left or right. It’s a matter of who makes the correct predictions, and who doesn’t.

All this personality bollocks is of course totally irrelevant except for those of us who enjoy ‘amusing ourselves to death’ (approx. 90% of the Irish reading public, judging by the Irish Times).

He is the doyen of “true economists” he is the antidote for the state of bankruptcy hanging over this country. As is the case with many truly gifted individuals who do not suffer fools gladly, and he meets many of them. he is despised for not playing the game especially by the left wing socialists who never created a job in their lives.

Constantin will always hold the moral high ground not to mention the analytical high ground over his adversaries. He did not go into education to hide out and use it as a base to waffle, he is a fearless economist, a risk taker, innovative and courageous a real breath of fresh air. This country is very lucky to have him. More is the pity that he is not brought into the DoF to vet ALL staff working there. Mr. Rehn would be making a very good start if he appointed him.

@Carolus Galviensis

When did he predict the housing bubble? The article suggests he got caught out on that.

@Ernie Ball,

“Celebrity is the ultimate measure of the market value of human beings” (?).

Market values crash, Ernie, regularly and inevitably. Any life that centres around delusions of grandeur or power associated with short-lived media celebrity has to be a pretty miserable and unfulfilling existence. “Well , I was famous for being famous’ isn’t much of an epitaph.

@ Michael Hennigan

I’d seen that story – amazing woman! Hilleman is said to have wondered, looking back on his life, if he had done enough to justify being here. Answering his own question, he remarked: “There’s great joy in being useful.”

I guess there was in his case, since his work on vaccines is, on one estimate, believed to save 8 million lives per year. Those who seek celebrity status and public notoriety solely for their own selfish ends might do well to reflect what real celebrity is founded on. And O.K, if that sort of thinking makes me a quaint old bird, then I’m happy to be a quaint old bird.

@Rory O’Farrell

Thanks for your comment — yes, the prophet apparently managed to get himself into a ‘negative equity’ twist. O’Farrell — dix points.

Perhaps he had a ‘bad hair day’ when he signed the mortgage. But even Homer sleeps, as Horace pointed out a couple of millennia ago.


Fame is often a source of power and influence. It can help you promote and idea, it can help you to get rich and it can help you get your rocks off. That goes for literary fame, entertainment fame, business fame, political fame, sports fame and so on. Fame is crass and fame is democratic. I don’t know what could cause the lust for fame being quenched but I suspect it would be something totalitarian and anti-democratic or a disaster of huge proportions.

I’ve just come across a fascinating (and moving) article by Constantin Gurdgiev on the Irish economic crisis at his website ‘True Economics’:

Economics 13/9/10: Our crises are more than academic


CG writes:

Both myself and my wife hold advanced post-graduate degrees and have achieved above average careers with over 15 years of steady growth. Yet, back in the Autumn of 2008 both of us have almost simultaneously lost our main jobs. Four subsequent months, spent living in the hell of uncertainty, were some of the toughest periods we ever endured. Throughout these months, the fear for the future backed by our steadily declining savings was compounded by the complete absence of any leadership from our policymakers.

Read it. Forget the ‘celebrity’ rubbish

I like Constantin – a great addition to Irish discourse, Irish culture, Irish economics. We are lucky to have him. I hope he continues to add his voice to Ireland’s discourse in years to come and helps strengthen ties between Ireland and Russia. For years Irish people have contributed to the progress of other countries, it is great to see other nationalities contributing to our development.

@ Carolus Galviensis
Great article. You are right on the celeb rubbish.

@ Holbrook Fields.
Second that

Constantin has been a consistently well-researched and articulate libertarian voice in Irish public policy debate. The article accords well with my impression of him also in that he takes no prisoners but ultimately is always stimulating to listen to or read, whether you agree with him or not. He is one of the best people to talk to if you find yourself becoming sympathetic toward any government programme – he either shreds you or you will have firmed up your ideas substantially by the end of the conversation.

Constantin’s blog was quiet recently and I missed the occasions when I had to read really detailed charts and internalize a sophisticated argument. Things that make you go “Hmmm”.

@Rory O’Farrell starting at the end and working back into the solution is actually a fairly complex credo, its called backward induction or reverse induction and is used to find optimal results in game theory. Inadvertently the person paid him one of the biggest compliments you could give to a persons intellect.

The IT may have done an article on C.Gurdgiev, but I wouldn’t call it a ‘profile’ in any sense of the word.

Where was mention of some of the controversial positions that he’s taken in the past, such as advocating for the what the Russians were doing in Chechnya, or calling for South American leaders that the US doesn’t like to be murdered (the latter on Irish national radio, by the way).

A what about his writing for the lobbyist front Tech Central Station for several years, or his hawking around (along with Moore McDowell and Paul MacDonnell) their “Open Republic Institute” think-tank operation to corporations here to do some (ahem) ‘sponsored’ research and advocacy?

@ Karl Deeter

Its one thing to use backward induction to solve an economic model. Its another to start out with a policy solution, and then find the data to suit that.


Economists who are articulate and passionate are in demand and necessary to educate anyone trying to understand what is going on.

Just because some of them are popular doesn’t mean they are only interested in being popular.


I agree with you entirely. This site, for example, has provided a valuable public service in terms of information and analysis of public policy and the options available to Irish policy makers across a range of issues. It feeds into the mainstream media and thus influences policy formation and several academic economists have made quite brilliant contributions to public debate and enhanced public knowledge and understanding of the issues in the process. They have made their work accessible to anyone who wishes to educate themselves on the many problems we face as a country. In the process, several of them may become ‘household names’, but that goes with the territory we’re all in and I don’t think anyone is suggesting that they are motivated by any desire for fame, wealth, status or power. The gist of my argument was, and remains , that there’s a difference between courting notoriety to further one’s personal career or feed one’s vanity and becoming well-known for having something useful to contribute to the human condition. I don’t quite know where Mr. Gurdiev fits on the spectrum and I don’t much care either. His arguments stand or fall on their merits; mostly I’m not impressed by his certainties.

Like everything, what he says is to be weighed.

He is being chopped up by “fame” the great tarnisher.

He is not of the Irish and can be valuable when so read. He may have an illustrious ancestor? Again, just because he lives in Ireland, does not mean that he is a friend of Ireland. What he says, I tend to agree with, but he is very human, a good trait.

But looking to others is the at the heart of the sheepish. They all get slaughtered eventually for mutton!

Learn, all of you, to stand on your own two feet and restrict those you put into power. Or be condemned to learn another history lesson.

Work on your own liberty!

@ Sarah
“This is quite funny because it doesn’t say the one thing that everyone thinks as he smoulders away on telly in his stylish clothes and shakes that fashionably long hair off those fabulous cheek bones while we lean forward all the better to interpret his thick accent and marvel at the wide vocabulary…

A handsome economist!!!!!

“Love to listen to him” she says.

Yes Louise ”

I hear a tear drop into the morning coffee of a certain, once believed to be, handsome red head.
Is there no accounting for taste?

All disciples of Ayn Rand have one thing in common.
Ego maniacs.
She wouldn’t have wanted anything less.


All young things are handsome, as nature intends them to be for the purpose of ensuring procreation. It’s what’s in your head that matters. Handsome is as handsome does, as they say. No need to mourn lost youth. Think of that classic Einstein poster: craggy features in a face lined with life’s experience, illuminated by those kindly, intelligent eyes.

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