The Economics Debate, again and again

From Dani Rodrik’s weblog:

Ten commandments for economists

1. Economics is a collection of models; cherish their diversity.

2. It’s a model, not the model.

3. Make your model simple enough to isolate specific causes and how they work, but not so simple that it leaves out key interactions among causes.

4. Unrealistic assumptions are OK; unrealistic critical assumptions are not OK.

5. The world is (almost) always second-best.

6. To map a model to the real world you need explicit empirical diagnostics, which is more craft than science.

7. Do not confuse agreement among economists for certainty about how the world works.

8. It’s OK to say “I don’t know” when asked about the economy or policy.

9. Efficiency is not everything.

10. Substituting your values for the public’s is an abuse of your expertise.


Ten commandments for non-economists

1. Economics is a collection of models with no predetermined conclusions; reject any arguments otherwise.

2. Do not criticize an economist’s model because of its assumptions; ask how the results would change if certain problematic assumptions were more realistic.

3. Analysis requires simplicity; beware of incoherence that passes itself off as complexity.

4. Do not let math scare you; economists use math not because they are smart, but because they are not smart enough.

5. When an economist makes a recommendation, ask what makes him/her sure the underlying model applies to the case at hand.

6. When an economist uses the term “economic welfare,” ask what s/he means by it.

7. Beware that an economist may speak differently in public than in the seminar room.

8. Economists don’t (all) worship markets, but they know better how they work than you do.

9. If you think all economists think alike, attend one of their seminars.

10. If you think economists are especially rude to non-economists, attend one of their seminars.




Posted by at 2:35 PM

Labels: Macro Demystified


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