Economists Stereotypes

Econbrowser reader sammy claims:

1) Economists have limited exposure to the real world
2) Economists extrapolate off last period statistics, which are much more imprecise than they acknowledge
3) Economists are ideological and can torture statistics to reach the desired outcome

I don’t know if the reader actually knows any credentialed Ph.D. economists, but I have to say that from my own experience, these are not particularly apt characterizations.

On (1), pretty much every Ph.D. economist I know did not grow up with a silver spoon in his/her mouth. Now, like many other academics, they typically aren’t from extremely humble backgrounds (as shown in this paper, discussed in this post). But interestingly, business (not economics) professors have the lowest proportion of parents with PhD’s among the surveyed academics.

As for myself, I know I have to shop at a grocery store, go to the DMV to renew my license, have but one house to live in. Right now, we only have one car between the two of us; the one we last retired was over 22 years old, and retired only because we couldn’t get a part for the repairs, since it was so old.

I’ve worked in a factory (swing shift! – and I know what anodizing entails), as a clerk in an anonymous government office, in a library writing call numbers on the spines of dusty books. I never worked in the accommodation and food services industry, but my father did his entire life. I never worked sewing garments, but my mother did. In sum, I’d bet my parents’ socio-economic status did not exceed that of would-be populist sammy’s.

On (2), economists are the ones usually cautioning people not to extrapolate off the last observation. As I’ve documented on this blog, I’m always (perhaps tiresomely so) repeating that the most recent observation of any given government statistics is likely to be revised, and often meaningfully so. (This post also documents my many warnings on Econbrowser about data imprecision.) And, the entire idea of cointegration (which showed up in many of my published papers) involves not extrapolating off the last observation.

I can’t counter (3), because, heck, you could pretty much say everybody is ideological. Now, amongst policymakers, I’d say that economists are not as ideological as others because the concepts of costs, benefits, risk, asymmetric information, and calculations at the margin discipline what a typical economist will say about a given public policy.

On the other hand, you can think about how that salt-of-the-earth public intellectual Rush Limbaugh deployed statistics (or didn’t), as he luxuriated in his humble abode.

Source: WSJ.





123 thoughts on “Economists Stereotypes

  1. Barkley Rosser


    Generally agree, although personally I probably come from a more elite background than most academics, including economists. But my family while reasonably well off were not super wealthy and my parents did a lot of penny pinching, especially my late mother. I have not lived off a trust fund or anything like that and always done grocery shopping and the rest of those sorts of everyday things, as well as having had some menial jobs earlier in my life, including food service.

    You are also completely right that the accusations by by not only sammy but also rsm about economists projecting off last period statistics are just bogus, and that most of us are well aware about levels of precision of data we study (some is better than others) and do note such matters.

    Probably the issue that is touchier does involve ideological bias, and there I would say that many economists are ideologically biased and do seek to find outcomes that fit their biases, and that indeed there is a tendency for them to in general be somewhat more liberal than the average voter. But your caveats on this are accurate, that also by nature keep more of an eye on things that moderate this tendency. I would also say that as a discipline economists tend to be more conservative than most other academic disciplines and certainly more so than other social scientists. There are many conservative or libertarian economists who are strongly pro-free market and have this bias affecting their work.

    There are also many economists who really do stand aside from any clear ideology: who as it were really do play it completely straight and stick to analyzing the data with essentially conventional theoretical and empirical methodologies. Regular readers of this blog have access to one who seriously fits that bill, and I am talking about the blog’s founder, Jim Hamilton, who really keeps his views of things very close to his chest. I know him quite well, and I do not know what his ideolological position is. And Menzie may tilt more openly than Jim, he also plays it straight when it comes to analysis of data.

  2. Manfred

    It is nice to see Menzie defending the profession of an economist. Really nice.
    But – the swipe at Rush Limbaugh, exactly why? Are you jealous, Menzie? Rush Limbaugh earned every penny he made – every single one, including filing for bankruptcy once or twice in his early life.
    You may disagree with him, you may not have liked his radio program. But Limbaugh earned every penny. And if he wanted to live in luxury, that was his
    prerogative. And by the way, you had access to schools that many others in the US do not, so Menzie, instead of taking a swipe at a dead person who cannot defend himself, you would do better in counting your own blessings.

    1. baffling

      Rush made his money in secrecy. Most of his followers believed he was salt of the earth, living the same life and experiences they were living. He lived a lifestyle much differently from those who listened to his shows. Same goes for other conservative gab-shows like hannity. Rush made his living by denigrating a significant swath of the us population, on a daily basis.

      limbaugh was also guilty of doctor shopping. he wanted the usa to come down hard on sellers and users of drugs. but when he found himself in the position of being a drug user (and perhaps seller), somehow he came to believe leniency was the better approach. quite interesting.

      “Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. … And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up,” Limbaugh said on his short-lived television show on Oct. 5, 1995.

      and don’t get me started with his bottles of viagra and sex tourist trips to the dominican republic.

      manfred, don’t defend such a sorry excuse for a human being as rush. he was a menace to society.

        1. T. Shaw

          De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

          And, this [too often deployed] unnecessary/unrelated ad hominem does not refute Sammy’s arguments. It validates them.

          I pray for all your tragic students.

          1. Moses Herzog

            I just bet T. Shaw prays a lot.

            “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.”

            Republicans say these kind of false prayers all the time. I think it’s even better not to pray at all than to falsely claim you pray or to go through motions of praying and think you are fooling God.

      1. noneconomist

        As I recall, he was holding much more (almost 12,000 Oxy pills) than necessary to qualify him as possessing “felony weight.” Plenty of lawyers were pointing to clients who were serving prison terms for possessing less. But the same supporters who were all for throwing the book at “druggies” were solidly behind their man.
        Not surprising though to see Manfred carrying a torch for the likes of Limbaugh. He take his heroes where he can get them. Maybe he should also doff his cap to Limbaugh’s maid, who purchased much of his stash.

    2. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Manfred: I mentioned Rush Limbaugh because that’s an example of an elite (look up his bio – came from a prominent political family). We don’t know that he earned every penny he received — he moved in with his parents for a while. Doesn’t that mean he didn’t earn every penny.
      My question — did I not earn every penny I worked for? I’ve never been on TANF, never been on unemployment insurance, worked all my adult life, including when I was in college. And yet, sammy characterized me as having “limited exposure to the real world”.

      In other words, I’d say Rush Limbaugh better fit the characterization of an out-of-touch elite. Hence, the mention.

      And no, I don’t envy Limbaugh; besides the moral cesspool he constituted, I don’t envy anybody with a substance abuse problem.

      1. Moses Herzog

        @ Menzie: Are you saying marrying four different women, none of the marriages lasting longer than 10 years spells out “family values”??

        Oh My……..

        1. Moses Herzog

          Excuse me, Are you saying it doesn’t spell out family values?? Brain slow this early afternoon.

      2. Manfred

        I never claimed that you Menzie did not earn every penny you earned. I only objected to your swipe at Limbaugh.
        As for the moral cesspool that you claim Limbaugh constituted, well, I can give you a full list of Democrats who are equally a moral cesspool.
        Starting with this administration, which you so much support (cue Merrick Garland, for example, or cue Hillary Clinton for example as well).
        But again, those are normative statements that are neither right nor wrong. The fact is that Limbaugh earned his fortune and supported a big list of charities.
        But I know Menzie you cannot acknowledge this simple fact.

        1. baffling

          “As for the moral cesspool that you claim Limbaugh constituted, well, I can give you a full list of Democrats who are equally a moral cesspool.”
          why do you try to justify rush’s immoral life by complaining others are just as bad? that still does not make rush a good person. he was a very damaging person to this nation. he was not a patriot. he was a gold digger. he was a sex tourist. he was a drug abuser. his behavior indicates he does not consider family values important. why a republican conservative would continue to support a man of such poor character is truly baffling.

        2. noneconomist

          Manny leads cheers for the defense! That full list would also mean Limbaugh was no better than any of those you mention. Right?
          Which begs the question: if he’s indeed no better, why all the babbling about pointing out his many ,uh, shortcomings?
          And, can we surmise, Manny has never uttered a bad word in print or in public about those he places in that same moral cesspool?

    3. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Manfred: I’m puzzling over your remark “And by the way, you had access to schools that many others in the US do not…” Are you asserting I’m a legacy, i.e., my parents attended my college so I got an “in”? Or are you asserting that my college did not permit applications from other people? Or are you saying that I got preferential treatment in my admission? So please explain the phrase “had access”.

      1. Moses Herzog

        This is an obvious reference to the full-tuition scholarship awarded to average students of offspring of food service workers given to you by The Non-Unionized Food Service Workers of America, founded by Andrew Puzder.

        Did I get this wrong??

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Manfred: If you comment, it would seem appropriate that you explain what you mean. If not, I will infer that you mean I somehow had access to universities that other people deserved access to, but were prevented from applying to. In other words, I guess you are asserting there was discrimination in my favor. Well, that might indeed be the case, but it would be helpful to readers to understand if that is what you are asserting, and why.

          1. Manfred

            Oh Menzie. Really? Are you really so prickly and jitterish about words?
            There is medicine for this, Menzie. Prozac for one, and I am sure the honorable Dept of Psychology at UW Madison can assign you a nice prof to give you some therapy sessions. It seems to me that you, a good Progressive Liberal Soldier, see discrimination everywhere, special treatment everywhere. No Menzie, I did not mean discrimination in your favor or in favor of anybody else, I did not even mention the word, but apparently you even dream with it. Take a deep breath Menzie. And drink a chamomile tea. They say it is good to do so once in a while.

          2. baffling

            manfred, this is one of the downsides to using dog whistles. we all know what you meant by your statement. but you cannot own up to it, because, well, it makes you look like a fool. you can deny it, but the words are in print. so you simply delay and distract with the hope the conversation simply goes away. you really do believe prof chinn was given advantages because of his race. you are just too ashamed to make the statement directly.

          3. Econned

            In response to your question
            “Oh Menzie. Really? Are you really so prickly and jitterish about words?”
            The answer is “absolutely, but…”. See, these threads are littered of instances where Menzie’s panties get all bunched up over such words that his ego/emotions find unsettling. Other times (when Menzie finds it convenient to ignore), such words aren’t as prickly to Menzie – the prickliness has a rather large standard deviation yet is relatively predictable.

  3. baffling

    on the other hand, we have sammy, the self professed failed business owner. based on that history, who wouldn’t want to take economic advice from him? apparently he has an expertise on how businesses fail. too bad he is ignorant of how to run a successful business. unfortunately, half the country believes people like sammy should be calling the shots.

    1. sammy


      Well the restaurant operated for 10.5 years. Then along came COVID lockdowns. Maybe you foresaw this 10.5 years ago, but I did not. Nor I must not have had your business acumen to withstand 90+% revenue decline. Overall, I invested $250K, lived off it for 10.5 years, supported 8 employees for 10 years, had a lot of fun, fed a lot of people, and learned a lot. It ended as a result of bad luck, but I have moved on with my life, and remained relatively prosperous so I don’t judge the experience as a failure, but a success. YMMV.

      1. noneconomist

        And somehow, sammy, your preferred candidate to lead the country was/is the guy who bragged about being the “King of Debt”! The same guy who’s claimed bankruptcy multiple times , and who owes plenty to unknown entities. A guy who received a gift of a million from his father (much more in today’s dollars) to begin his career and plenty more to bail him out of numerous failures.
        But,sammy, do continue your lectures on reality and how those with advanced degrees are unacquainted with the real world. You continue to be, in the words of the immortal Ralph Kramden, a riot, a regular riot.

      2. baffling

        “Nor I must not have had your business acumen to withstand 90+% revenue decline. ”
        as i have said before, while many businesses closed, many more have remained opened and prospered. sammy, yours was one that failed. you can blame covid lockdowns, but you probably did not even apply for covid aid. the fact remains, plenty of other businesses (including restaurants) were quite nimble and successful. you don’t get any sympathy from me for running a poor ship into the ground. you may have learned a lot, but it was how to fail. not how to succeed.

      3. Moses Herzog

        My memory is far from perfect. But more times than not it ends up being correct. I cannot say this with 100% certainty, but my memory seems to place the time of sammy’s “confessing” of managing/owning a failed restaurant to be pre-January 2020. Now, I don’t know if this is a subtextual message of me having too much time on my hands, but I will fully admit, I would treasure finding that pre-January 2020 comment from sammy, because I think it exists on this blog somewhere, which paints his Covid-19 excuse for restaurant failure as pure BS.

        1. baffling

          i had the same feeling about the timeline, but not too interested in searching for the actual quote. i game him a pass, for now…its not like it changed the fact that his business failed.

  4. JohnH

    Dani Rodrik is curious about economists’ attitudes on “free” trade: “ When I recently gave a talk arguing that economists underplay some of the adverse consequences of advanced globalization, an economist in the audience took me to task: Don’t you worry, he asked, that your arguments will be used (or abused) by populists and protectionists to further their own interests? It is a reaction that reminds me of a response from a distinguished economist more than two decades ago to my 1997 monograph Has Globalization Gone Too Far? All your arguments are fine, he told me, but they will give “ammunition to the barbarians.”

    The objection is instructive insofar as it lays bare the implicit political economy understanding with which economists tend to approach public discussions of trade policy. In this perspective, the serious threats to sensible trade policy nearly always come from the import protectionists, and trade agreements mainly offset the influ- ence of the protectionists. But as trade agreements have evolved and gone beyond import tariffs and quotas into regulatory rules and harmonization—intellectual property, health and safety rules, labor standards, investment measures, investor- state dispute settlement procedures, and others—they have become harder and harder to fit into received economic theory. Why do many economists presume that it is more dangerous to express skepticism in public about these rules than it is to cheerlead? In other words, why do they think that there are barbarians only on one side of the issue?”

    “[Trade agreements] could also produce purely redistributive outcomes under the guise of “freer trade.” As trade agreements become less about tariffs and nontariff barriers at the border and more about domestic rules and regulations, economists might do well to worry more about the latter possibility. They may even adopt a stance of rebuttable prejudice against these new-type trade deals—a prejudice against these deals, which should be overturned only with demonstrable evidence of their benefits.”

    BTW the distinguished economics professor in question was none other than Krugman. Rather than being impartial, he took the position of being a promoter and apologist.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      JohnH: Well, the TPP had a chapter on state owned enterprise subsidies, an issue one could argue don’t fall under the standard rubric of tariffs, and yet arguably hurts US workers. On intellectual property rights, I do recall there being general debates (not necessarily in the context of international trade) on what is the optimal length of patent protection. So these things are being debated (I recall the latter was in a governmental forum), just maybe not in the places you are looking at.

      1. pgl

        Check out the discussion on TRIPs. Protection of IP rights can also lead to greater income inequality. To the degree Nestle (a Swiss based multinational) charges royalties = 5% of sales to its African affiliates means they get to reduce their worldwide tax bite aka Base Erosion and Profit Shifting!

        1. JohnH

          Where did the paper talk about the role of multi-national corporations and the benefits that accrued to them?

          Where is the discussion of the agreements’ effects on income distribution?

          1. pgl

            Excuse me but TRIPS relates heavily to how multinationals charge their Southern affiliate royalties for protected IP. Maybe they did not use your preferred words. Maybe you do not get any of this. But hey – you never do.

    2. pgl

      Your last sentence is dishonest and disgusting. The fact of the matter is that Krugman raised many of the same arguments.

      BTW this is a very good paper even if you choose to abuse it. But that is what you do 24/7.

      He notes stating on page 76 something called the TRIPs program which has allowed multinationals based in the developed world to charge intercompany royalties to farming affiliates in places like Africa, which lowers income in the developing world. This is quite a controversy as it leads to greater global income inequality. I was a little surprised that Dani once endorsed this idea.

      1. JohnH

        “ Some ten years ago, I remember sending a draft of my book Has Globalization Gone Too Far? to a very well known and outspoken economist (and no knee-jerk free trader) whose views I admired greatly. He told me he had no quarrel with my economics, but that I should not be “providing ammunition to the barbarians”–that is, I should not give comfort to all those protectionists who stand ready to hijack any argument that seems to provide intellectual respectability to their positions.”

        Rodrik would not have written his 2018 piece if he didn’t think that group-think on “free” trade had continued to have largely taken over the economics profession. Krugman’s advice to suppress contrary opinion was symptomatic of a phenomenon which seems to extend well beyond “free” trade.

        Thank goodness for the World Economics Association and their blog!

        1. pgl

          You are attributing things to Dani that he never said. And you ignore what Krugman has often said about these issues. Look – we know you are beyond dishonest with your obsession with Krugman bashing. We have asked you before to get professional help and to stop polluting this blog with your intellectual garbage.

        2. pgl

          “Krugman’s advice to suppress contrary opinion”

          Krugman has never suppressed well founded views on economics. Of course King Liar JohnH I will continue to write such disgustingly dishonest comments. It is all he knows how to do.

          1. JohnH

            It’s hard to read Krugman’s advice to Rodrik as anything other than “Get with the program. Don’t rock the boat. Promote and defend “free” trade against the Barbarians.”

            IMO this is classic Krugman, at least in his NYT pieces. Never dishonest, but frequently less than forthcoming.

        3. pgl

          It is the Real-World Economics blog. I have been reading this blog for a while. One of Krugman’s critics actually wrote “The IS-LM approach is not fruitful or relevant for understanding modern monetary economies”. Seriously? It was a long winded rant that in my view was rather worthless but I’m sure you enjoyed it.

          Even this dude correctly notes that Krugman has always considered distributional effects from trade and eventually got around to realizes how large the China shock really was. So even this dude is more honest than you are capable by a factor of a trillion.

          1. JohnH

            James Galbraith and Dean Baker were founders of the World Economics Association. Baker publishes there regularly. One of his favorite topics are the TRIPs and other protectionist clauses contained in “free” trade agreements. The Rodrik piece suggests that despite all the negatives, economists have lost little of their enthusiasm for these agreements, which increasingly have little to do with free trade and more to to with rents and consolidation of market power.

            It seems that “free” trade has become an ideology among many mainstream economists, suppressing the increasingly obvious costs and downsides.

          2. pgl

            “One of his favorite topics are the TRIPs and other protectionist clauses contained in “free” trade agreements.”

            You FINALLY got around to TRIPs? What took you so damn long since I have noted this from the start. Oh wait – you forgot to read that part of Rodrik’s excellent discussion. Yep all you bother to read is someway to bash Krugman. Which is why 100% of your comments are dishonest wastes of time.

          3. pgl

            November 8, 2021 at 1:19 pm
            I read Krugman’s advice to Rodrik to not give ammunition the barbarians as a very clear and unambiguous attempt to suppress some of Rodrik’s views on “free” trade.”

            A complete misread but standard for you. Your insane obsession with Krugman bashing is getting really BORING.

        4. pgl

          Dani Rodrik’s description of Paul Krugman:

          “no knee-jerk free trader whose views I admired greatly”

          Of course the serial liar JohnH would have you believe that Krugman is indeed a knee-jerk free trader who would even take Dani’s comments out of context to make his “case”. Yes – he is both obsessed and dishonest.

          1. JohnH

            I read Krugman’s advice to Rodrik to not give ammunition the barbarians as a very clear and unambiguous attempt to suppress some of Rodrik’s views on “free” trade. Krugman may not be a knee-jerk free trader, but his overall stance, particularly in his mainstream media pieces, is that of a promoter and apologist. He takes a similar stance on many other issues.

            This is why I take a jaundiced view of much of what Krugman writes. If the topic interests me I search for other pieces that reveal what Krugman deems not fit to print.

            It’s part of the sifting and winnowing process that is part of the UW ethos.

  5. sammy

    Hi Menzie,

    1) Economists have limited exposure to the real world and 3) Economists are ideological and can torture statistics to reach the desired outcome

    What drove this home for me were the discussions on this blog regarding enhanced Unemployment Benefits. People were being paid $17.50 per hours to stay home, and there were numerous posts here proving that this had no or small affect on unemployment rates. (You may still try to defend this with statistics)

    But If you had ever employed lower wage workers, or even ventured out to interview employers who were desperately trying to hire workers at $17-$20/hr you would have seen the negative effect on unemployment caused by this artificial floor.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      sammy: Economists tend to look at data. You have an anecdote. You do know that similar labor market conditions have arisen in countries besides the US, without the enhanced unemployment insurance benefits you are alluding to. And those benefits ended for everybody by September (earlier for many states), and yet we still have the conditions you speak of. Could it be… some other factors are driving the difficulty of hiring at $17 you are speaking of. Consider it – it might blow your mind. (And these are the possibilities that economists try to parse out using econometrics, as opposed to argument by repeated anecdotes).

      1. pgl

        Does Sammy even get the basics of demand and supply in a competitive labor market? If there was a wage floor above the market clearing wage, we would have excess supply of labor so his businesses would have no problem hiring workers at the wage floor.

        No – as has been noted many times, we are more likely seeing excess demand for workers right now which means a competitive market would drive up wages. Now if a business is too cheap to buy the market wage – then that is their failure – not some mystical wage floor.

        I wonder if Sammy might hire some college age kid to finally teach him the basics of economics. Of course this kid might want to be paid $20 an hour for his efforts, which I doubt Sammy would be willing to pay.

    2. pgl

      Artificial floor? No state has a $20 per hour minimum wage and even someone as dumb as you seem to be knows that. So why the lie?

      Now our local McDonald’s is paying $18 but this is NYC. Kevin Drum noted the same goes for Southern Cal where he lives but now is in Louisiana on vacation, he sees McDonald’s there is only pay $10 an hour.

      Come on Sammy – learn the difference between market determined wages v. floors. It is a basic concept.

    3. baffling

      “But If you had ever employed lower wage workers, or even ventured out to interview employers who were desperately trying to hire workers at $17-$20/hr you would have seen the negative effect on unemployment caused by this artificial floor.”
      see, this is why i said you were a failed business owner. there are plenty of people who ARE being hired at these wages. so the question needs to be asked. why would they not work for YOU? probably because you provided poor working conditions. poor scheduling. no benefits. bad personality. all the employers complaining about no workers need to look in the mirror and get an honest response, before blaming it on the workers or other benefits.

      look, we went through a couple of decades where employers like you, sammy, took advantage of workers with low wages and poor working conditions. don’t complain when the tables are turned. i had an aunt who worked part time at walmart for a couple decades. she would have liked a full time job, and there were not many available in our town. but walmart would intentionally schedule her for 30 hours a week, nearly random over a 7 day period. the effect was an inability to get a second part time job because of the randomness in the schedule. this was intentional by the employer. she could not work part time elsewhere, which may have led to a full time job. and since she was not full time, they paid little in benefits. sammy, my guess is you would approve of that walmart management style.

      1. pgl

        Sammy seems upset that $17 an hour and no benefits is not enough for someone to work for him. And since his complaint is some sort of wage floor – he must be thinking – “if I offer this chap only $8.50, this chap will jump at the chance to do my bidding”. Yes Sammy is THAT stupid.

    4. macroduck

      So, since you disagree with Menzie, it is Menzie (and all economists) who have limited exposure to reality. You don’t see the narrow-mindeness imbedded in your utterly subjective position? The fact that you failed and he didn’t doesn’t seem like a possible source of bias to you?

      Let me lay it out in the simple terms that someone who has never lived in the real world outside the low end o the economy might understand:

      Lots of people have degrees in economics, but few hold tenure professorships at excellent universityes. Fewer still are recruited to work as aevisors to the president of the United States. Menzie is what people with extensive exposure to the real world call “successful”. Or perhaps “highly successful”.

      Lots of people run restaurants. I’m pretty sure more people run restaurants than have economics degrees, but feel free to look that up to see if I’m wrong. As of last December, 17% of restaurants open just prior to the Covid outbreak were out of business ( Even if we assume that figure has doubled by now, that’s still just 34% pf restaurants. So those who went out of business are in the lower third of the class. Let us not call them “failures”. Let’s instead recognize that they “did not suceed” when 66% (or more) of their rivals did suceed.

      So you, a guy who “did not succeed” in your own profession, stumbles in here and tries to run down another profession about which you have certainly no more knowledge than you have of restaurants. And we know how that went.

      sammy, you’re a bottom third kind of guy.. Menzie is among the most successful economists. And here you are, trying to telling him what’s what in economics. You don’t see how sad that is?


      Sammy, everything about you is debt and debt expansion. You have nothing else like capitalism has no future post-industrial revolution. The party is over.

    6. baffling

      “People were being paid $17.50 per hours to stay home, and there were numerous posts here proving that this had no or small affect on unemployment rates.”
      sammy, during the depths of the pandemic, that is EXACTLY what we wanted people to do. we wanted them to stay home so that we limited the spread of the virus and the number of victims overwhelming the hospitals. it cost the government far more to treat those workers in the hospital than to simply keep them home until we got a handle on the pandemic. funds were available to help subsidize the cost of keeping those workers on the payroll during the shutdown, assisting those businesses. my guess is those whose business failed never got around to acquiring those funds…

    1. paddy kivlin

      i would leave state farm if they dismissed rodgers….

      there is a lot of competition, i might like the gekkho!

      the jab is an experiment, with no safety data that increases the incidence of myocarditis about 5 fold.

      go ahead and let the mrna into your cells every six months, the jab is not up to date with variants.

      i am a micro type, i rejected the cdc approval due to unacceptable consumer risk….. and shoddy effectiveness and themnot even testing the other attributes a product delivers.

      1. pgl

        “the jab is an experiment, with no safety data that increases the incidence of myocarditis about 5 fold.”

        My – you are even more of a liar than Tucker Carlson or Rand Paul. No safety data? Dude – that is beyond stupid and dishonest.

      2. baffling

        “the jab is an experiment, with no safety data that increases the incidence of myocarditis about 5 fold.”
        well we know that if you do not get the vaccine, you will eventually acquire the virus. that should not be in dispute. and recent nature article indicates the vaccine risk is pretty low
        and if you are curious about the rate of myocarditis from covid

        so it seems you have a significantly higher probability of acquiring myocarditis from covid than the vaccine. again paddy, your argument simply does not match the data available to the general public. exactly where are you obtaining your obviously incorrect assessments? do you not believe in data?

        now the vaccine itself introduces one protein coding mrna into the human body, which the body’s immune system uses to respond to the actual virus. on the other hand, the virus itself has 26 protein coding mrna, plus dozens of other rna coding filaments, all replicated by the millions or billions as the virus enters cells in every organ of your body. paddy, you are arguing that the single mrna from the vaccine is more dangerous than the uncontrolled replication of millions of the virus throughout your body. are you insane or simply ignorant? even if you knew absolutely nothing about biology, these numbers should be clear that your anti-vaccine stance is not based on any intelligent information.

      3. Barkley Rosser


        Well, the evidence is that if you are not vaccinated, you have a far higher probability of dying in agony if you catch Vovid-19, which you are also more likely to do, not to mention spreading the joy to somebody else as well. So, have fun with being “a micro type.”

  6. Paul Mathis

    Dr. John H. Cochrane, January 2020
    Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

    “A new wave of government expansion is cresting. It poses a deep threat not just to our
    economic well being, but to our freedom — social, political and economic freedom, and even
    to the basic structure of our government.”

    Cochrane’s tract could have been written in January 1932 and it would have just as nonsensical. Many prominent economists are a menace to society as much as the anti-vaxxers. Dr. John was awarded a PhD in economics at the University of California at Berkeley and teaches at the Stanford Grad School of Business.

    1. pgl

      The following clap trap was his conclusion:

      “Our session is titled “how to deal with socialism,” My talk has mostly been about how to understand the modern movement on the left. You have to understand something before dealing with it. Bottom line:

      This isn’t your grumpy uncle’s socialism, singing Pete Seeger union songs from the 1930s. What is the question to which its goals are an answer? Only one makes sense, a political will to grab, expand, and keep the power of the federal government.

      That political program is married to a new secular cult. That movement has already taken over most of the “elite” institutions of our country, and disarmed the rest, who now feel guilt rather than pride of and hope for the American project.

      Politicians have chosen partisanship, and chosen to ally with this jihadist cult, because the expansion of government power has made our system much more winner-take-all and shoveit-down-throats of electoral minorities.

      Fix that, I think, and our society survives. Misunderstand this at our peril.

      Cochrane only pretends to be an economist. This kind of writing may impress people like Rush Limbaugh but that is about it.

      1. Paul Mathis

        Another Anti-Vaxxer/Economist: Milton Friedman

        “The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.”
        “I have no right to coerce someone else, because I cannot be sure that I’m right and he is wrong.”

        1. pgl

          I doubt Milton Friedman would be an anti-vaxxer. After all even the Univ. of Chicago knows what externalities are.

          1. Moses Herzog

            Friedman was against medical doctors licensing. I suspect Friedman would not have been an anti-vaccinations. But I also strongly suspect he would have been strongly against requiring them. That is different than being anti-vaccinations.

      2. Moses Herzog

        But California universities are all “bastions of liberal dogma” where Republicans have no “freedom” to say what they want to say….. Don’t you ever read “The Epoch Times”???

        Cochrane hasn’t done any complaining recently about tenure lately has he?? Like once in his entire career?? Because many people on Cochrane’s side of the political spectrum spend an exorbitant amount of time deriding tenure, and I wonder if he has even attacked this once, beings that he benefits from it. I bet Cochrane”s glad that his graduate assistants, who probably do 7/8ths of his work for him, if we are to judge from the habits of many of his cohorts, don’t have tenure. That’s quite useful those grad assistants don’t have tenure when the tenured profs get out their cattle prod with the electric zapper button for those grad “assistants”.


        Considering the “American project” was a globalist con job, maybe redefining what is “left” is something they should do. Elite institutions is all people like Cochrane have.

    1. pgl

      Most Republicans even think Ted Cruz is both an idiot and a complete jerk. Maybe his mommy did not let Teddy Boy watch Sesame Street.

    2. Moses Herzog

      5-star comment by baffling. Hahahahah, I mean, it made me laugh, but underneath it kinda does make me angry.

      I guess Ted Cruz’s dream is to have all quality children’s programming killed off (there are still many “latchkey” children in America who have little else to turn to but their friends on PBS) while emotionally unbalanced women like his wife or a paid nanny brainwash America’s children that Democrats are “satanic pedophiles”. Is that Ted Cruz’s version of Utopian America??

    3. pgl

      Cruz has two daughters – ages 10 and 13. Cruz got the vaccine and I’m sure his kids got their as soon as it was authorized. Cruz is an elitist POS who cares only about other elites – the rest of the kids can die if it suits his political ambitions. MAGA!

  7. ltr

    As far as encouraging multilateral trade, that is the persistent theme in China and just now there is a global “import” exhibition in Shanghai that has attracted some 3,000 large and small exhibitors from more than 100 countries which will add billions of dollars in imports for China. The import exhibition and encouragement will be ongoing:

    November 7, 2021

    Practicing true multilateralism, China speeds opening-up toward high level

    SHANGHAI — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of global exhibitors at the ongoing China International Import Expo (CIIE) exceeded that of the previous edition — a vote of confidence for the Chinese market and a message of business opportunities from it.

    The annual global import-themed trade fair, the first of its kind worldwide, is an emblem of China’s high-level opening-up and concrete practice of maintaining true multilateralism. It has become a major platform for enterprises from either developed, developing, or underdeveloped countries to boost exports to the market with a population of over 1.4 billion.

    The fair attracted nearly 3,000 companies from 127 countries and regions this year, including 33 least developed countries. The number of U.S. companies attending this year’s CIIE reached a record high compared with their presence at the previous three editions….

    1. ltr

      November 5, 2021

      Import expo shows China’s greater openness pledge

      BEIJING — China has reiterated its unswerving commitment to opening its vast market wider at the ongoing fourth China International Import Expo (CIIE). Beijing’s latest pledge will not only benefit its domestic development but also inject fresh impetus into the world economy, plagued by the ongoing pandemic.

      Chinese President Xi Jinping told the opening ceremony of the CIIE that China will not change its resolve to open wider at a high standard, will not change its determination to share development opportunities with the rest of the world and will not change its commitment to an economic globalization that is more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all….

  8. Manfred

    Wow that escalated quickly.
    First it is Rush Limbaugh on some kind of Merrick Garland-like enemies list.
    Now it is John Cochrane, one of the best living economists of our time.
    It is no longer Trump Derangement Syndrome.
    It is “People I Disagree With” Derangement Syndrome.

    No wonder some serious people want to set up a new university:
    Before you get another bout of Derangement Syndrome, a prominent economist from Harvard is on the board.
    But again, he may get on the enemies list as well.

    1. pgl

      Garland is not Trump so your accusation of him having an enemy’s list clearly is a lie. And Cochrane being one of the best living economists? Seriously?

      Any more Klown Komments from the Peanut Gallery?

    2. pgl

      “a prominent economist from Harvard is on the board”

      That would be Lawrence Summers who would scoff at the nonsense you write here. But then Niall Ferguson is also on this board which strikes me as tainting their credibility.

        1. Moses Herzog

          Ferguson obviously thinks that John Maynard Keynes is a perverse deviant, so obviously Niall treasures “accuracy” in the historical record:

          Nothing as fun as disparaging a man whose scholarly work and cerebral mind’s eye has probably saved hundreds of thousands (millions??) of people from unemployment, bankruptcy, starvation, and largely wasted lives. Let’s all tear down Keynes personal life (which injured no one) shall we?? This is the type person Manfred is telling us all will “save us” from “derangement”. Which homosexual intellectual icon shall we tear down next Niall??

          1. pgl


            “I had forgotten that Keynes’s wife Lydia miscarried.”

            I am told Lydia was gorgeous and clearly they tried to have a child. Keynes was not the only bisexual at Cambridge. Ramsey was beyond brilliant.

        2. pgl

          A lot of historians have heavily criticized his writings on history. Not my field but I have read his rants on economics which are beyond dumb.

    3. Barkley Rosser


      There are a lot of economists with more google scholar citations than Cochrane. Jim Hamilton of this blog is one of them. He is prominent, but “one of the best living economists of our time,” well, no, unless your list of such people is over 100 long.

      1. Barkley Rosser

        I just checked the RePec ranking of living economists. Jim Hamilton is actually #100. Cochrance is #137, petty far down from your characterization of him, Manfred.

        1. Manfred

          It is very possible for Hamilton and Cochrane to be concurrently two of the best economists of our time.
          I like Cochrane’s way of doing econ. Not sure that Google citations are good measure.
          But again, there is a lot of taste involved as well.

          1. Barkley Rosser


            You probably do not know what RePec is. But it uses its own measure of citations, which is narrower than what google scholar uses. Many professional economists take its ranking seriously, probably more seriously than google scholar citation rankings.

            It ranks Jim H. at #100 among living economists and Cochrane at #137. That is not awful, and he has done some good work, but it does not make them “two of the best economists of our time.” You like Cochrane because he makes highly political statements that you agree with. HIs claims about the Biden admin being “socialist” is just spouting an ideological screed straight from current GOP party lines.

            BTW, Jim H. is author of the leading grad textbook on time series analysis, which has that as its title. There is a reason it is the top one, sometimes called “the Bible” by many. Cochrane is also author of a widely used grad textbook, his named Asset Pricing. However, it is not the top book in that field, with the top one being by John W. Campbell and MacKinlay. Campbell, who is at Harvard, happens to currently rank at #10 on that RePec list.

            Oh, and Asset Pricing is also a deeply flawed book on its topic. Even though it is widely known that most financial time series exhibit kurtotic fat tails, if you know what those are, something Cochrane’s father-in-law, Nobelist Eugene Fama, currently #7 on the RePec list, knows, Cochrane’s book never even mentions kurtosis or fat tails, not once, not anywhere in it. Campbell and MacKinlay’s much better book most definitely does.

  9. rsm

    From the linked post on imprecision:

    《I don’t even know what it means to think of a standard error that represents the standard deviation of the sample population for GDP.》

    Doesn’t it just mean that you use surveys to estimate, i.e., wages, and those surveys have a standard error, and when you combine those surveys with others to impute GDP, you should, if you are intellectually honest, carry along the standard errors?

    Did all economists flunk Statistics 101?

    1. pgl

      Surveys to impute GDP? Damn – you are clueless. Oh wait – let’s take a survey to figure out what the weather was today. Could you stop as your poor mom is embarrassed by now.

    2. pgl

      “Did all economists flunk Statistics 101?”

      Since you never took statistics, I presume you are just cutting and pasting from junk you read via Google. Stop pretending you know stuff because your own comments prove you are beyond dumb.

    3. Barkley Rosser

      No, rsm, those surveys do not have any standard errors. You are the one who would flunk Statistics 101 if you were ever to take it. Why do you keep digging yourself deeper and deeper and deeper into a hole of abysmal ignorance that you have gotten yourself into and that multiple people here, including Menzie, have pointed is exactly that, a hole of abysmal ignorance.

      Some things have standard errors and some do not. You need to inform yourself better as to which do and which do not, if you are going to continue to push this line and not just make a bigger and bigger fool of yourself.

      1. pgl

        When I was a newbie assistant professor – a colleague who taught finance and econometrics helped me form an amateur baseball team. We were not that talented but we had a great team name – Random Errors!

  10. Moses Herzog

    Folks, I’ll spare you my usual self-psychoanalysis for once related to my teenage years watching David Letterman at 12:30am, and just tell you I view myself (accurately or not) as someone who can see very dry/colorless things and see great humor in them. I want to tell you, this headline made me laugh for about 20 seconds straight. I feel whoever wrote this headline deserves some kind of humor award from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts:

    “McConnell says Trump wrote foreword to his memoir. Trump says he didn’t”

  11. ltr

    April 27, 2003

    The Empire Slinks Back

    Wheresoever the Roman conquers, he inhabits. — Seneca

    Let me come clean. I am a fully paid-up member of the neoimperialist gang. Two years ago — when it was not at all fashionable to say so — I was already arguing that it would be ”desirable for the United States to depose” tyrants like Saddam Hussein. ”Capitalism and democracy,” I wrote, ”are not naturally occurring, but require strong institutional foundations of law and order. The proper role of an imperial America is to establish these institutions where they are lacking, if necessary … by military force.” Today this argument is in danger of becoming commonplace, at least among the set who read The National Interest, the latest issue of which is practically an American Empire Special Edition. Elsewhere, writers as diverse as Max Boot, Andrew Bacevich and Thomas Donnelly have drawn explicit (and in Boot’s case, approving) comparisons between the pax Britannica of Queen Victoria’s reign and the pax Americana they envisage in the reign of George II. Boot has gone so far as to say that the United States should provide places like Afghanistan and other troubled countries with ”the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets.”

    I agree. The British Empire has had a pretty lousy press from a generation of ”postcolonial” historians anachronistically affronted by its racism. But the reality is that the British were significantly more successful at establishing market economies, the rule of law and the transition to representative government than the majority of postcolonial governments have been. The policy ”mix” favored by Victorian imperialists reads like something just published by the International Monetary Fund, if not the World Bank…

    1. ltr

      September 30, 2011

      The Great Salt Hedge

      The Great Wall of China stands till today as a historical achievement. There was another in India in the 18th century which was comparable to that. A grand hedge – starting from Maharashtra’s Barhanpur passing via Madhyapradesh, via Uttarpradesh via Punjab, via the Sindh province of Pakistan and ending almost in the Kashmir border.

      It was a living fence. Grown from shrubs and tied together so that nobody can cross it. It was almost 12 feet in height. It was the largest fence in the history of the world. It almost split northern India in half. It ran across 4000 kms of vacant land, agriculture land, villages, cities and deserts. At its height, in 1872, it had 14000 full time British officers guarding and maintaining it. It lasted as a symbol of British-Indian Government’s authority for almost three-fourths of a century….

      [ ” The policy ”mix” favored by Victorian imperialists…” ]

    1. pgl

      I bet you have no clue who even teaches basic statistics. If you ever run into someone who does, I’m sure he would ask you WTF do you mean by a “wage survey”. Since we know you are absolutely clueless – try checking this out:

      Now can you please stop posting some annoying pointless comments?

  12. Manfred

    Well, the enemies list is growing.
    Now Niall Ferguson was added, because some people in this blog disagree with him.
    Could it be time for a letter to Merrick? Rumor has it that Merrick reacts quickly to letters that mention people critical of this administration.

    1. Moses Herzog

      @ Manfred:
      You read this on a QAnon forum?? Let’s see your source. ONE source (in your case) will suffice. Preferably a direct link.

    2. Moses Herzog

      The humorous part of this is, Manfred so much as admits it’s a rumor. I guess as a failed state government worker someone would have gotten threats of lawsuits in the past, so at least he learned when selling poop to citizens to go ahead and call it poop, even when handing it to them in a new Nike shoe box.

    3. Moses Herzog

      On can only assume smalltown halfwit Manfred doesn’t know that Bannon went around telling dopes of similar IQ to Manfred that if they gave Bannon money he would spend that on a southern border wall. It is cute how dumb Republicans are sometimes isn’t it?? Anyone have guesses on how much money Manfred gave for Bannon’s drinks and facial shaving kit??

      “At a brief arraignment on Thursday, Mr. Bannon, sunburned and his hair unbrushed, pleaded not guilty to charges of wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The government agreed to release him from custody on a $5 million bond.”

      the NYT article goes on~~~ “According to the authorities, Mr. Bannon hatched the plot to defraud the donors with three other men: Brian Kolfage, a 38-year-old Air Force veteran and triple amputee from Miramar Beach, Fla.; Andrew Badolato, 56, a venture capitalist from Sarasota, Fla.; and Timothy Shea, 49, of Castle Rock, Colo.” …….. “Mr. Kolfage and Mr. Badolato were arrested in Florida on Thursday, and Mr. Shea, who prosecutors said funneled money for the group through a shell company he owned, was arrested in Denver.”

      And more about Manfred hero Stephen Bannon: “To persuade potential donors to contribute to the effort, prosecutors said, Mr. Kolfage promised them that he would “not take a penny in salary or compensation” and that all of the money he raised would be used “in the execution of our mission and purpose.” According to the indictment, Mr. Bannon described We Build the Wall as a “volunteer organization.”

      “But all of that was false, prosecutors said. Instead, they claimed, Mr. Kolfage secretly took more than $350,000 in donations and spent it on home renovations, boat payments, a luxury S.U.V., a golf cart, jewelry and cosmetic surgery. Mr. Bannon, working through an unnamed nonprofit organization, received more than $1 million from We Build the Wall, prosecutors said, some of which he used to pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses.”

      The indictment:

      Does Manfred think leaders who defraud regular citizens out of their money are super upstanding gentlemen??

      I suppose if we are to measure out Manfred’s view of discussion of dead racist fraudsters, when Bannon dies Manfred will be telling us we should only discuss Bannon’s work with Mother Teresa.

  13. Barkley Rosser


    You probably do not know what RePec is. But it uses its own measure of citations, which is narrower than what google scholar uses. Many professional economists take its ranking seriously, probably more seriously than google scholar citation rankings.

    It ranks Jim H. at #100 among living economists and Cochrane at #137. That is not awful, and he has done some good work, but it does not make them “two of the best economists of our time.” You like Cochrane because he makes highly political statements that you agree with. HIs claims about the Biden admin being “socialist” is just spouting an ideological screed straight from current GOP party lines.

    BTW, Jim H. is author of the leading grad textbook on time series analysis, which has that as its title. There is a reason it is the top one, sometimes called “the Bible” by many. Cochrane is also author of a widely used grad textbook, his named Asset Pricing. However, it is not the top book in that field, with the top one being by John W. Campbell and MacKinlay. Campbell, who is at Harvard, happens to currently rank at #10 on that RePec list.

    Oh, and Asset Pricing is also a deeply flawed book on its topic. Even though it is widely known that most financial time series exhibit kurtotic fat tails, if you know what those are, something Cochrane’s father-in-law, Nobelist Eugene Fama, currently #7 on the RePec list, knows, Cochrane’s book never even mentions kurtosis or fat tails, not once, not anywhere in it. Campbell and MacKinlay’s much better book most definitely does.

  14. Econned

    1) recent research has shown US econ PhDs are the least socioeconomically diverse

    2) true – that’s what a lot (most?) of econometrics is

    3) Economists are known for torturing statistics to reach a desired outcome. Along with other statisticians, Taleb is well-known for lamenting this. The non-scientific and statistically-questionable aspect of much of economic research (disingenuous aspect of exploratory vs confirmatory etc) came up during a discussion between Steve Levitt and Ed Miguel.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Econned: 1) what recent research demonstrates US econ PhDs are the least socioeconomically diverse. I teach at a university, I have many acquaintances that are PhDs in other fields. I can tell you econ PhD’s seem to not be the most homogeneous group. 2) I suspect you don’t understand econometrics; and if you are right, we wouldn’t be concerned about mean reversion. 3) I’d say everybody tortures statistics – p-hacking is not an economists’ monopoly. But I don’t see you proposing a constructive alternative approach (or even advocating replication studies).

      1. Econned

        1) your feelings don’t trump data. Stansbury & Schultz presented their ongoing research at the Fed’s Conference on Diversity and Inclusion just a couple of days ago. The presentation was towards the end of the session. Go see for yourself. Or get a GA to do it for you…

        2) I understand econometrics. I suggest you don’t read well.

        3) no one asserted a monopoly by economists – that’s you failing miserably at debate. I mentioned the Miguel/Levitt discussion and they do propose some alternatives. Feel free to look it up if you’re concerned your own research is subject to ridicule due to torturing statistics. Additionally, I have advocated replication more than you’d ever imagine. Just because I haven’t on your echo-chamber of a blog doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Happen. Happe. Happ. Hap. Ha. H.

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Econned: Then why is most econometrics extrapolating off the last observation, if we understand that there are lots of (conditional) mean reverting processes?

          1. Econned

            Your question is idiotic.
            1) my comment was “a lot (most?)”. We all know you’re a poor debater but your continual flaws in logic and disingenuous representation of other’s comments is a very bad look.

            2) I don’t take literal “extrapolate off last period statistics” from a pedagogical perspective. My point is that many of the most common econometric techniques aren’t terribly far off from “extrapolation”. Additionally, I’m not limiting “last period statistics” to be t-1. Economists use statistics from prior periods “which are much more imprecise than they acknowledge”. To the above, Idc whether “sammy” intended the same but I’d guess so.

            3) For simplicity, and to show how idiotic your reply is…
            let us assume every single data set were mean reverting. Then what? We shouldn’t care about other data series that correlate or are causal factors to deviations from said mean?

          2. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Econned: If I say “last period”, I usually mean “last period”, not “the last few periods” nor “the last t-k periods”, k = infinity. At least that’s how I understand the English language.

          3. Econned

            As you state… “usually” which implies… “not always”. At least that’s how I understand the English language.

            Keep “blogging”, Menzie and we will wait for you to pen your mea culpa about US economists being the least socioeconomically diverse.

      2. Econned

        I still can’t get over Menzie’s use of personal anecdotes as an attempt to refute someone’s comment that is, largely in part, about the questionable use of statistics by economists. And then it’s followed up by research (presented at arguably the leading economics institution in the worlds mere 2 days after this blog post) that refutes said anecdotes as a proxy for the US profession-at-large. Geez this blog is full of the lolz. Can’t make this stuff up.

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