by Tyler Cowen
on October 9, 2012 at 11:31 am
1. The Dutch book mountain.
2. Cheapskates, pessimists, and food trucks, by me, on countercyclical assets.
3. On Spufford’s theology, with a link to chapter one.
4. Rogoff on technological unemployment, and interview with John List.
5. How the word “entitlement” became a negative.
6. IMF reform appears stalled.
7. Critique of the celebrity economist.
Tyler, have you read N T Wright? He’s another Anglican who writes beautifully about Christianity.
Indeed. I recommend his defense of the literal resurrection of Christ titled “The Resurrection of the Son of God.” At 740 pages, it’s a great weekend beach read.
(7) starts off well enough, snarky and critical, but eventually collapses in a mess of vague complaints: Too much math? Too much forecasting? Too many puff piece interviews? Not enough heterodox economics? Rational man? Boo metaphors and toy models?
A better article would have focused on how many leading economists are much too confident in their expertise, especially policy-wise. Even the Nobel laureates lack a crystal ball, and we should be critical when they spin any outcome as confirming their predictions, theories, claims, etc. A better article could have rehashed the ”state of macro is good” claim, the dearth–until recently–of essential models such as Diamond-Dybvig, etc. But not in this article.
“leading economists are too confident in their expertise”
I would argue that Paul Krugman always disserves more praise, as this article rightfully gives him. He’s clearly one of the leading economists that is an example of not being overconfident.
I don’t blame the “celebrity” economists for pop econ…one could always find preeminent economists in various settings. The celebrity economists of the blogs are not necessarily that different from the celebrity economists of the NBER conferences or of the corporate circuit. In any case, I would blame the “fans” for making the blogosphere more like expert silos than an idea smorgasbord.
Experts are always going to sound like experts, lest people stop asking them for their expert advice. It’s the consumers of the expert advice who need to be skeptical. Go to a good economics seminar and that’s largely true…those in front of the crowd get grilled. I am not sure what it is about blogs, but the comment sections (and even the careful readership) often degenerates into a fan fest. I posted an occasional critique on a blog (that’s praised here) and ended up getting econ-hate emails (in addition to grumpy online retorts). So much for a little friendly debate. The celebrities are smart enough to know the nuances of their arguments, but it saddens me when I see their die-hard fans spewing the party line like it’s the indisputable truth.
I too would have written a different article, but I think there’s a legitimate concern here and please no more state of macro articles for a while.
Claudia, your points are well-taken. Whenever I offer criticisms from time to time (especially of Hayek’s empty definition of liberty or of the futility and fadishness of “online education,” the ratio of grumpy retorts to thoughtful replies is pretty outlandish — but that is the nature of a blog: fanatics and “true believers” will swamp the rest of us
I actually think this blog is one of the best for commenters disagreeing with the authors. If Tyler or Alex post something that is BS they get called out.
Fine, Cliff. But have you ever seen such a high concentration of contrarians in one place? I don’t think it’s a coincidence. The fan behavior may be a bit different, but it’s still here. What is it about blogs? I write and read some of the goofiest stuff on them, why? Just don’t want to see that feature passed to online ed.
I was hoping that the “Dutch book mountain” would provide me with an arbitrage opportunity, but I was disappointed.
If you like that book mountain, then you’ll probably enjoy the library at Freie Universität Berlin.
I like Rogoffs comment that the demand for chess teachers has been stimulated by nation states requiring chess education.
The chess mandate.
Reform the IMF? YUCK!
Scuttle that plague ship instead.
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