Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Occupy AEA

To my immense amusement, there was an Occupy AEA (American Economic Association, which just had its annual conference in Chicago) protest. It's like watching victims of a plane crash protesting a physicists' convention.

I understand your frustration (sort of), but your anger is profoundly misdirected. There are a hundred better places to place blame than on the eggheads who are just trying to figure out how the system works in the first place.

(It's unfortunate that academic economists and policymakers are one and the same in the public's eye.)

1 comment:

Dan said...

While Occupy does tend to have frustratingly simplifying rhetoric, I don't think economists can escape entirely scot free from blame in the crisis. The idea of bad economics as *the* cause of the crisis is absurd - it's a complex social event, it has lots of moving parts. But financial economics certainly contributed - see MacKenzie 2011 for a particularly detailed account of the link between the two (or fellow econ camper Kevin Bryan's write-up here. More broadly, Inside Job (in spite of its at times obnoxious hyperbole) also points to some depressing links, such as Glenn Hubbard's paid-for "analysis" of the excellent condition of the Icelandic financial sector.. right before it exploded. So it's not just the economists on Wall St., or the economists in government, although those two groups certainly played roles here and there. I'm glad to see the AEA adopted a code of ethics, for example.