Saturday, July 18, 2009

What Good Are Economists, Anyway? The Debate Continues

Back on April 27, the cover story of Business Week posed the question, "What Good Are Economists, Anyway?"

Well, the debate continues in the new issue of the Economist. This lead piece gives an overview of what follows in the two-article feature. Here's an excerpt:

OF ALL the economic bubbles that have been pricked, few have burst more spectacularly than the reputation of economics itself. A few years ago, the dismal science was being acclaimed as a way of explaining ever more forms of human behaviour, from drug-dealing to sumo-wrestling. Wall Street ransacked the best universities for game theorists and options modellers. And on the public stage, economists were seen as far more trustworthy than politicians. John McCain joked that Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, was so indispensable that if he died, the president should “prop him up and put a pair of dark glasses on him.”

In the wake of the biggest economic calamity in 80 years that reputation has taken a beating. In the public mind an arrogant profession has been humbled . . . .

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