Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why Is Macro So Hard: What Passes for Expertise

One reason that macroeconomics is hard is because everyone has an opinion (which is OK), but sometimes those opinions are supported by credentials which encourage people to stop asking tough questions.

Here’s what a Republican got away with:

Dave Spence is a Republican running for governor in Missouri.  He has gone around the state for weeks on end, talking about his economics degree and how he’s a perfect fit as governor because he’ll know how to tackle the state’s budget woes.  He’s Dave Spence, economics degree holder, and he’ll fix your fiscal insolvency!


Poor Dave, he’s not an economics degree holder, he’s a degree holder in HOME economics.

To be even-handed, the Democrats got away with appointing Jared Bernstein as Chief Economist and Economic Policy Adviser to Vice President Biden. Bernstein’s qualifications were his degrees in Fine Arts, Social Work, and Social Policy.

To be fair, Bernstein has some interesting ideas, and his stuff is worth reading. I can’t speak for Spence.

P.S. I am not advocating credentialism here, but rather better investigative work on all sides.

1 comment:

  1. BTW: the original meaning of economics is "household management". In ancient Greece, the manager of a landowner's estate was an oikonomos, and what they did was oikonomia. So, in some sense, "home economics" is repetitive, and contemporary economists are the ones who are misusing the term.