This account of a debate between Thomas Woods and Tom McInerney, ING Chairman & CEO Insurance Americas, fairly well sums up the disastrous ignorance of the global financial elite. Keep in mind, the clueless wonder is an Econ major from Colgate with an MBA from Tuck:

The extent to which [McInerney], ING Chairman & CEO Insurance Americas was outmatched, though, was revealed in this almost embarrassingly funny episode. McInerney had mentioned that Bernanke was a diligent and knowledgeable student of the Great Depression. So, when it came time for the Q&A, one audience member asked Woods to briefly explain the Austrian view of Great Depression and how it might differ from Bernanke’s view. After Woods did this, McIerney took the stage, and as if he were about to unload a devastating blow against Woods, said to him, “this might seem like a bit of an attack. Don’t take it too personally.” And then…. he began to rant about … the relatively small size of the country of Austria. I kid you not.

Some audience members began to laugh; others cringed, as McInerney dug his hole deeper while under the illusion that he was unleashing a deadly zinger. Woods kept trying to stage whisper that Austria had nothing to do with the school of Austrian economics, but McInerney, undeterred, plowed on. Thus, when Woods took the stage he said, “this might seem like an attack, but don’t take it too personally…” And then Woods commented that we may as well say we shouldn’t listen to Milton Friedman, since the GDP of Chicago is pretty low.

And this sort of thing is just one of the many, many reasons that I’m deeply unimpressed with appeals to academic, professional, or scientific authority. Perhaps McInerney should have pleaded the Courtier’s Reply as it’s almost, though not quite, as deeply stupid as his soliloquy on the Austrian economy.

And it gets worse. Thomas Woods comments: “Of course people are right to observe that relatively few people get exposed to Austrian economics. The point here is that I had just finished a 40-minute presentation on the subject.”

No wonder McInerney’s company needed a bailout. I have little doubt it will soon need another one.