Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tim Harford — Why economists should be more like plumbers


Keynes summed it up:
The study of economics does not seem to require any specialized gifts of an unusually high order. Is it not, intellectually regarded, a very easy subject compared with the higher branches of philosophy or pure science? An easy subject at which few excel! The paradox finds its explanation, perhaps, in that the master-economist must possess a rare combination of gifts. He must be mathematician, historian, statesman, philosopher—in some degree. He must understand symbols and speak in words. He must contemplate the particular in terms of the general and touch abstract and concrete in the same flight of thought. He must study the present in the light of the past for the purposes of the future. No part of man’s nature or his institutions must lie entirely outside his regard. He must be purposeful and disinterested in a simultaneous mood; as aloof and incorruptible as an artist, yet sometimes as near to earth as a politician.
— J. M. Keynes "Alfred Marshall, 1842-1924" The Economic Journal, (Sept.,1924), 321-322
The Undercover Economist
Why economists should be more like plumbers
Tim Harford

4 comments:

mmcosker said...

Are negative interest rates like a "leak"?

Tom Hickey said...

Like taxes, a "drain."

Noah Way said...

Depends on where you stand. For some taxes are an ocean that floats their fleets.

Bill said...

The economist as plumber:

But madam, it is theoretically impossible for your pipes to have burst.