Can economics and politics ever be separated?

Wednesday morning I met with a group of professors at the Economics University.  We had planned to meet during their long break and enjoy tea and cake.

While we were enjoying catching up on all the summer activities, the head of the English department asked me if I had time to speak to some of their fifth year students.  All of them spoke English fairly well and so we had a pretty good discussion.

One professor asked that we not discuss politics, which caused us to have a conversation about economics can ever be divorced from politics.  I think political leaders have tremendous influence on a governments fiscal policy and therefore their political leanings have tremendous influence in the overall direction and shape of said country’s economic policy.

We discussed at length the situation in Europe today.  Greece continues down a slippery slope, and everyone is wondering if Spain and Italy will follow.  The German chancellor and French president are working hard to keep the Euro afloat.

We discussed the financial policies of Ukraine, including the passage of a new law that requires everyone to show their passport when exchanging money.  One student shared a story of a friend who exchanged 2,000 USD for Ukrainian hryvna.  Soon afterwards, the tax police sent this person a letter demanding taxes be paid on the money.

So, again our discussion came full circle and we were back at square one.  Can economics and politics ever be separate?  For me, the quick and short answer is no.  What do you think?