“Why Are So Many Economists So Unable to Help With the Ongoing Economic Crisis?”

February 17th, 2012

Neil Buchanan poses this question.

Economists can be a frustrating breed.  We seem to have a special, secret set of insights about one of the most important sets of public policy topics facing the country and the world.  We promise to bring theory and empiricism together to help show politicians and the public how to make better decisions.  Yet we never seem to fulfill that promise.  We appear to bicker endlessly, and we were famously unable to predict the financial crisis that led to the Great Recession and the cruel pain of the ongoing, excruciatingly slow recovery.

Why are economists unable (or unwilling) to reach a clear set of prescriptions for the economy?  And why are so many economists at odds with each other over the causes and solutions to seemingly every economic problem?

His answer has to do with the way economists are trained. I would direct him to F.A. Hayek’s Nobel Speech, aptly named, the Pretense of Knowledge.