The Economist, 18 July 2009

economist 18 july 2009Three pieces in this issue address the state of economics as an academic discipline.  One laments the current state of macroeconomics, characterizing it as a discipline in which too many practitioners have been “seduced by their [theoretical] models” and have lost interest in data that might contradict those models.  Another discusses the efficient markets hypothesis, the role that hypothesis has played in shaping the theory and practice of modern finance, and tries to asses the likelihood that the efficient markets hypothesis will retain credibility in light of the world’s current financial crises.  A leading article calls on economists to bring about a “reinvention” of their discipline.  Evidently the requirements of this reinvention dictate that “Economists need to reach out from their specialised silos: macroeconomists must understand finance, and finance professors need to think harder about the context within which markets work. And everybody needs to work harder on understanding asset bubbles and what happens when they burst.”  Economists must recognize that “in the end” they are “social scientists, trying to understand the real world.”  I’ve always been rather skeptical of economics, but I suspect that most economists knew that last part already. 

There are also two pieces about lunar exploration.  One asks whether it makes sense to send more people to the Moon, quoting Buzz Aldrin’s opinion that it would be wiser simply to move on to other destinations.  Another reviews two new books on the Apollo 11 landing, in time for the 40th anniversary of that event.

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