Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Quote of the Day, 10/2/2012

The “professors” are academic economists. Like “ostriches and penguins” the professors are “slightly ridiculous.” They write papers that are densely packed with indecipherable mathematics and jargon, and “most of these papers are not worth reading.” In fact they are written not to be widely read but merely to impress the author’s colleagues with his cleverness. The ideas advanced in these papers are not original or definitive explanations of how the economy actually works, but rather “ingenious elaboration without fundamental innovation” — “old wine in new bottles, usually with fancier mathematical labels.” All of this Krugman freely concedes. Ah, but if one would only back up far enough and view the proceedings from a distance, he would see that the professors are engaged in an “enterprise that steadily adds to our knowledge.” The truth is that economics is a “primitive science,” akin to medical science at the end of the nineteenth century, when physicians knew basically how the body worked and not much more.  True these primitive medical scientists were able to  advise how to prevent some diseases and what quack procedures and medicines to avoid, but they could not cure very many diseases. So it is with economics professors today who know a lot about how the economy works. They can even definitively advise how to prevent hyperinflation and in most cases how to avoid depressions. But there is much that remains a mystery to these primitive practitioners of the dismal science. In particular, “they don’t know how to make a poor country rich or bring back the magic of economic growth when it seems to have gone away.”

- Joseph Salerno

No comments:

Post a Comment