Saturday, February 2, 2013

Simons, Krugman, and the role of economics

Krugman: "Three decades ago, when I went off for my year in the U.S. government, an old hand explained to me the nature of the job: it was mostly about fighting bad ideas. And these bad ideas, he went on to explain, were like cockroaches: no matter how many times you flush them down the toilet, they keep coming back." [emphasis mine]

Simons: "Academic economics is primarily useful, both to the student and to the political leader, as a prophylactic against popular fallacies"


  1. I'm imagining some sort of CEA composed of all the prominent members of the economic blogosphere. Somehow, I think that if you submitted to such a committee for an up or down vote every policy that Washington comes up with, you would probably just see a unanimous downvote on the majority of issues, a unanimous up-vote on some, and disagreement on a couple.

    At the end of the day, it's not just Macro I or even Econ I politicians fail. It's all but one class because the only class they study for is Getting Re-Elected I.

  2. And now he spends a great measure of his time promoting bad ideas, including ones he used to fight against. Funny how the real world dynamics of punditry and partisan politics do not drive towards sound economics. Luckily, his shrill and ad hominem tone ensures that only those who already agree with his politics, and thus already have bad economic ideas, take him seriously.


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