Økonomer som astrologer

Det mener i alle fall Scott Sumner at folk flest synes vi skal være. Poenget hans er at når det gjelder mikroøkonomi er det en ganske bred enighet blant økonomer om hvordan verden henger sammen. Se også Ryan Avent. Mens folk flest tror verden fungerer helt motsatt. Det eneste folk flest vil spørre økonomer om er makroøkonomi. Og der er det, som den pågående krisen viser, stor uenighet blant økonomer. Men tilbake til mikro. Der er det altså stor enighet, men folk er ikke interessert i å lære. De stoler heller på sin egne ‘sunne fornuft’.

I eventually learned that noneconomists are only interested in what economists have to say on macro questions, and have utter disdain for our views on any and all micro topics:

1. They don’t care what we think of antitrust cases, they’ve already made up their minds. They don’t care about our views on predatory pricing, they’ve already made up their minds.

2. They don’t care what trade theory tells us. They just know that imports raise the unemployment rate, even when not at the zero bound. Or that low wages are an advantage in trade.

3. They are convinced that a firm will raise prices if its costs rise, but won’t pass lower costs on to consumers. You can use elementary logic, you can point out that this sort of behavior would actually reduce profits, you can argue until you are blue in the face, and it will have no impact.

4. They’ve made up their minds on carbon taxes, or any other taxes. It’s all about who pays.

5. They have made up their minds on product quality regulations. You can talk about the market giving firms and incentive to produce the optimal amount of defects, and it will carry no weight.

6. Labor unions . . .

I could go on and on. Non-economists couldn’t care less what economists think of micro questions. They think common sense is enough (it’s not) and hence they’ve made up their minds. When they hear our ideas they think we are a bit kooky.

Av tema her på bloggen er kanskje køprising og eiendomsskatt de beste eksempelene hvor de fleste økonmer er enige, men hvor det virker like sannsynlig at vi får gjennomslag i folket.

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