What have economists learned in the last year?

Here is my latest New York Times column, on four things that we have learned over the last year.  Here is the opening:

Harry S. Truman once said he wanted to talk to a one-armed economist, “so that the guy
could never make a statement and then say: ‘on the other hand.’ ” Yet
economic knowledge continues to progress in unexpected ways. Here are a
few of the things we learned in the last 12 months…

But to continue the lunchtime debate with some of my colleagues, the piece ends as follows:

Knowledge is a wonderful thing, but sometimes simply knowing what we
don’t know is a form of understanding. So beware the one-armed
economist; sometimes a good economist could use two or even three arms
or more.

I would make one modification to the tone of the piece: A number of days elapsed between the final draft and publication; I now estimate the probability of a recession higher than the rhetoric of this piece might to some people indicate.


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