Saturday, December 29, 2012

Rise of the celebrity economist -

Rise of the celebrity economist -

As economists’ profile has risen, the media attention toward them has changed. A recent Times profile on economists Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson, “Economics of Family Life, as Taught by a Power Couple,” illustrates the media’s growing tendency to treat select economists as celebrities. “Mr. Wolfers,” we learn, “looks like a nerdy surfer and tends to pull his chin-length blond hair into a ponytail,” while “Ms. Stevenson has an irresistible laugh and a stylish taste in clothes and shoes.” For this Business Section article, Rich gushes over the couple’s fondness for interior design in prose more reminiscent of Monocle than the New York Times, cooing over the couple’s “glass-top Noguchi coffee table” and “white Jonathan Adler casting couch covered in a sheepskin throw from Costco.”

Economists tend to separate into Iv-B and V-Bi, when disconnected they can alternate advice based on their colors. For example V-Bi tends towards a probabilistic approach and emphasis on propping up the chaotically damaged parts of the economy. Intervention is not supposed to be dangerous because the effects are random and diffused. They tend to form a team with a normal or orthodox view with those on the normal curve fringe being more heretical. The Iv-B economists are more like the freshwater type, they see the dangers of chaos such as deterministic government intervention causing problems. By alternating between them they can create a zombie economy where businesses infected with Iv-B contagion are propped up rather than cleaned, then new Iv-B businesses are kept from growing in their place.

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