Life Among the Econ

by on February 16, 2007 at 6:53 am in Economics | Permalink

Axel Leijonhufvud’s satire of economists, a fun read; excerpt:

The facts (a) that the Econ are highly status-motivated, (b) that status is only to be achieved by making “modls,” and (c) that most of these “modls” seem to be of little or no practical use, probably accounts for the backwardness and abject cultural poverty of the tribe.  Both the tight linkage between status in the tribe and modlmaking and the trend toward making modls more for ceremonial than for practical purposes appear, moreover, to be fairly recent developments, something which has led many observers to express pessimism for the viability of the Econ culture.

Or try this:

The young Econ, or “grad,” is not admitted to adulthood until he has made a “modl” exhibiting a degree of workmanship acceptable to the elders of the “dept” in which he serves his apprenticeship.  Adulthood is conferred in an intricate ceremony the particulars of which vary from village to village.  In the more important villages, furthermore, (the practice in some outlying villages is unclear) the young adult must continue to demonstrate his ability at manufacturing these artifacts.  If he fails to do so, he is turned out of the “dept” to perish in the wilderness…Once elected an elder, the member need do nothing and will still be well taken care of.

Of course in the mid-seventies the "tribe of Walras" had more status than it does today.  The pointer is from Peter Klein.  Here is another Peter Klein post on economists.

1 KipEsquire February 16, 2007 at 8:18 am

Didn’t I read this in Book III of Gulliver’s Travels? 😉

2 Keith February 16, 2007 at 11:09 am

Fun stuff. Perhaps it’s my bias as an economist, but we seem to enjoy satirization of our profession a lot more than most. Are we just that secure, or is our status so defined amongst ourselves that we can just have a laugh when somebody mocks our practices?

Looking on the web, sociology jokes seem rather few and far between. What exactly does that mean?

But it does seem to me that academic economists are so interesting because they understand and like markets but they behave very irrationally from a market perspective. In their hearts, many academic economists are Marxist in the way they judge the value of output based on the difficulty involved in producing it.

Of course, earlier we learned that this is the right way to praise children, so maybe there’s something to this after all.

3 joe February 16, 2007 at 11:12 am

Awesome. I’ve been looking for this online for a long time.

Ranks right up there with Blinder’s “The economics of Brushing Teeth.”

4 Jacqueline February 16, 2007 at 4:53 pm

You’re just now finding this?

5 Barkley Rosser February 16, 2007 at 5:17 pm

It is a curious comment on the profession that the original
paper by Axel was published in Economic Inquiry. I am aware
of a followup that is equally hilarious, not really at liberty
to say its title or authors, and unfortunately it is not up
publicly available anywhere. I happen to know that the authors
have sent it to several journals, including Economic Inquiry.
Everywhere it has been sent, the editor or editors have declared
it to be hilarious, rolling-on-floor funny, but in the end, nobody
wants to publish it. I might have to break down and invite it to
my journal, just to assuage the honor of the profession.

6 Foobarista February 16, 2007 at 5:39 pm

Maybe you want to clarify your multiple posts 🙂

I suspect economists get trashed more is because they are actually respected more; after all, they have real product. Most other “humanities” fields have gone so far off the deep end that nobody bothers to mock them.

7 Tracy W February 19, 2007 at 2:44 am

I give up. What’s an O’Maitres or O’Metrs?

8 Tracy W February 20, 2007 at 8:02 pm

Thanks Christine. 🙂

9 jad games February 9, 2010 at 1:11 pm

thank you very much for this article

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