The growing tech company demand for economists

Here is one bit from Steve Lohr’s longer article at the NYT:

For the moment, Amazon seems to be the most aggressive recruiter of economists. It even has an Amazon Economists website for soliciting résumés. In a video on the site, Patrick Bajari, the company’s chief economist, says the economics team has contributed to decisions that have had “multibillion-dollar impacts” for the company.

Another Amazon jobs site lists openings for economists. As of Friday, there were 34.

Seeing this emerging job market, the National Association for Business Economics held its first meeting for technology company economists in April in San Francisco. Another is set for October in Silicon Valley.

The article has many other interesting segments.


If anyone is going to respond to incentives, it should be economists.

We have thousands of government economists we would be delighted to lend permanently to our American friends as a proof of good will.

I think you need all of them at the moment, considering the state of your economy.

I am pretty sure they are exactly what we don't need...

[ "Businesses have been hiring economists for years. Usually, they are asked to study macroeconomic trends ....
But what the tech economists are doing is different....they are studying the data trails of consumer behavior..." ]

So today's tech companies don't want in-house "economists" per se --- they want "Marketing Analysis" people with very good database analysis skills, which 'some' economists have as a secondary skill set to their primary economics profession.

Actually seems like a slap at the economics profession --- forget that macroeconomics cr@p... tell us what real world consumers actually want and will buy.

Cheaper and more efficient to just hire good people with specific primary degrees/experience in Marketing Analysis. Why hire PhD's in English Literature when what you really want is just people with good language skills who can write effective advertising copy for your business?

But of course, most of economics is about microeconomics, not macroeconomics. I'm sure you knew that. And apparently, their knowledge is considered by top firms to be more valuable than what is done by marketing analysts. But then again, Bezos is just another failed entrepreneur, right? What does he know?

You don't need 'economists' to perform microeconomic analysis.

An experienced quant or data scientist can run rings around an 'economist'.

Economists may be just window dressing to make the data mining department look good, and, they may be, as Colicos and Carlolspin says, just glorified data miners.

"Actually seems like a slap at the economics profession — forget that macroeconomics cr@p… tell us what real world consumers actually want and will buy."

In the economics profession defense, those are the businesses' priority, find out what wil be bought. "For even if the prayers were answered, and a miracle occurred, and the yen did this, and the dollar did that, and the infrastructure did the other thing, we would still be dead. You know why? Fiber optics. New technologies. Obsolescence. (...) You know, at one time there must've been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I'll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company?"

I've been in the private sector. They expect results.

Economists as advertising experts. The so-called "tech" sector has even fooled economists into believing the hype. Money may speak in a loud voice, but manipulation is manipulation whatever it's called. Phishing for Phools, indeed.

No offense, but can you guys read? Or are you that out of touch with the discipline?

The consistent point here is that they are looking for experimental/behavioral economists who know how to do market design. Like auctions. And you only learn that by getting your hands dirty in an experimental lab. Because Amazon, Google and all are actually running experiments all the time by making tweaks to their customer interfaces. If you are on Amazon you may be a subject in half a dozen controlled experiments without even knowing it. So, no, a "marketing analysis" data person is not the same thing.

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