Are economists ruining economics? Over at the American Spectator, I say why that may well be be the case. Key points:
-Economists can’t even predict whether the stock market will go up or down tomorrow. Yet many economists tell everyone who will listen that they know how to solve the financial crisis and dig out of a near-global recession. No wonder people aren’t taking them as seriously as they used to.
-Economics isn’t the problem. The economic way of thinking is as powerful a tool as any for understanding the world around us. But it has its limits. Too many economists have pretended those limits away out hubris, or for political reasons.
-Any economist saying he understands global business cycles when he can’t even understand the pencil poking out of his breast pocket is a charlatan. But the discipline he dishonors is as beautiful as poetry. Interested readers should take a look at Leonard Read’s classic short essay, “I, Pencil,” as a case in point.
In Washington, the first question people ask you is usually, “what do you do?”
“I’m an economist,” I answer. “I work at a think tank.”
“Oh,” the usual response goes. Followed by an immediate change of subject.
So I’m not a hit on the DC cocktail party circuit. But this quotation made me swell with pride when I read it:
“Economics is not a dry subject. It is not a dismal subject. It is not about statistics. It is about human life. It is about the ideas that motivate human beings. It is about how men act from birth until death. It is about the most important and interesting drama of all–human action”
Hat tip: the Foundation for Economic Education, which did much to introduce me to the economic way of thinking when I was younger, and continues to educate and inspire me today.
The first project from EconStories. tv debuted today. It’s a rap video starring John Maynard Keynes and F.A. Hayek, called “Fear the Boom and Bust.” Amusing and deadly serious at the same time.
On a related front, Pete Boettke and Steve Horwitz have a new paper out applying a Hayekian view to the latest boom-and-bust cycle. It’s titled “The House that Uncle Sam Built,” and it’s worth reading.
Posted in Business Cycles, Economics, Great Thinkers
Tagged boom, Business Cycles, bust, econ stories, fear the boom and bust, fee, hayek, keynes, mercatus, peter boettke, russ roberts, steve horwitz
The Foundation for Economic Education has just posted an audio file from its archives of Nobel-winning economist F.A. Hayek talking about his masterwork, 1960’s The Constitution of Liberty.
Have a listen here.
Posted in Books, Economics, Great Thinkers, Philosophy
Tagged classical liberalism, constitution of liberty, Economics, f.a. hayek, fa hayek, fee, foundation for economic education, hayek, liberalism