Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Modernizing the American Economic Association

Professors of economics have displayed their prowess at constructing elaborate mathematical models in seeking to explain economic phenomena. They have also developed elegant econometric methods to analyze reams of data produced by governments or private associations to confirm, reject, or modify their models. Too few economists get their hands dirty in “reality.”

To that end, the time is ripe to modernize the American Economic Association. The next annual meeting is set for January 7-9, 2011, in Denver. The preliminary program can be viewed here.

Given the failure of most economists to anticipate the financial crisis and Great Recession, now would be a good time to include a new series of economic “reality” panels. Here are six possible titles for inclusion in January:

1. So you think you can forecast the economy and the effects of economic policies.
2. So you think you can dance around bad numbers and spin the results.
3. Top chef economists cooking up numbers.
4. The real economists of New Jersey.
5. Extreme makeover of economics.
6. Back to reality.

If reality panels prove popular, they can become a regular feature in the annual meeting.

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