Sunday, February 15, 2009

When Economists Fight in Public

MIT's Peter Temin wrote a tough book review in late 2008 published in the Journal of Economic Literature. He clearly stated that the Minnesota world view is not useful for understanding the Great Depression. Here is a well known Nobel Laureate Prescott's Response.

In 2059 when future macro guys take a look at the crisis of 2009, what economic models will they use?

I think that the Journal of Economic Literature should be reconfigured into a "professional wrestling journal". Take a contentious issue and have one set of scholars write up one side of the issue and then let the other scholars write up their views and publish them side by side. This could be done for the minimum wage, carbon taxes, structural estimation, legal origins versus settler mortality as initial conditions for institutional quality today, etc.

Today economists (such as Barro and Krugman) are battling in blogs. These 300 word public essays are too short without footnotes and nuances but there is clearly great demand for these tight debates.

1 comment :

PrestoPundit said...

The economics profession is all about deciding things by avoiding thinking about the hard things -- and playing instead at "I'm smart" math games and "I'm a real economist" statistical data mining and stat crunching games.

As the AEA committee on graduate education pointed out in the 1990s, it's produced generations of "idiot savant" math jocks, who know almost nothing of the rich intellectual history of economic thought, almost nothing of what goes on in the real world of the economy, and nothing of the literature published even 5 or ten years ago.

To expect this to change.

Every incentive pushes mightily against it.