Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The World's Greatest Economic Minds

Via Brad DeLong:

When a questioner suggested a summit of the nation's best economists, Krugman said something like: "We know what will happen if we bring together the greatest economic minds. It's spread across the blogosphere every day, and it's not pretty."

See also here:

Mr Krugman gives liberals the economics they want. Mr Barro gives conservatives the same service. They narrow or deny the common ground. Why does this matter? Because the views of readers inclined to one side or the other are further polarised; and in the middle, those of no decided allegiance conclude that economics is bunk.

Listen to this interview with former Goldman banker John Talbott for some refreshing straight talk (Leonard Lopate Show).


hcl said...

Steve, you grope around for the truth in economics all the time, because the textbooks omit the full science.

How much is it worth to you to know the full truth?

It so happens today's economics is a completed science (unless a discovery at the quantum level or cosmic level of physics overturns everything we know in a fundamental way.)

The truth is dangerous. Society could collapse. The truth makes some go insane. The truth is exceedingly lucrative to those in possession (I know of at least two separate groups, both of which jealously guard the information like the Coca Cola formula.)

zarkov01 said...

Name one economist with the intellectual of horsepower of (say) Chandrasekhar.

Anonymous said...

Why is Steve so interested in economics? Is he interested in astrology too?

STS said...

Nice interview. Lot's of good points, especially the last one about the need for the public to take back control of their government.

I think of the "Howard Dean Awakening" within the Democratic party as a belated attempt by the rather self-indulgent baby-boomer generation to do some catching up on their political responsibilities. The Dean campaign was perceived as "crazed" and "angry" in part because the media had a stake in portraying it that way, but also because a lot of people (boomers especially) were noticing how badly the system has been running off the rails. It was easier for them to get angry about it than to admit that they'd been too detached during the previous 20 years.

I thought Talbott was a bit quick to repeat the by-now-cliche observation that those scary 'quants' had taken over. BS! The quants pretty much all worked (and still work) for 'poker players'. If the quants offered too simplistic a picture of what they could deliver, it was more experienced non-quants who: a) authorized it, b) made sure to profit hugely from it, and c) carefully avoided asking tough questions about what the models actually meant.

It's important not to let the 'quants' be scapegoated here because the financial collapse we've seen is not qualitatively different from other bust episodes which have gone on since the invention of credit. It's way too convenient to blame some over-educated academic types for the faults of banking and bankers from time immemorial.

hcl said...

A more accurate title is "the world's greatest (politically correct) economic minds".

IMO, a table of the WGEMs would consist of a heavy dose of banksters and fascistic national socialists.

Calories in foods said...

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.

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