Hamermesh on macro

Interesting interview with Dan Hamermesh. Reading carefully between the lines, it would seem he’s not entirely enthusiastic about macro. Personally, I just wish people—particularly macroeconomists—would stop using the word “economics” when they mean “some of macroeconomics.” I’m looking at you, Paul Krugman, and you, Brad DeLong.

Here is one of the questions I wanted to ask you, with regards to Heilbroner’s book. With the economics profession, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, being somewhat in disrepute…

Stop! Stop, stop, stop. The economics profession is not in disrepute. Macroeconomics is in disrepute. The micro stuff that people like myself and most of us do has contributed tremendously and continues to contribute. Our thoughts have had enormous influence. It just happens that macroeconomics, firstly, has been done terribly and, secondly, in terms of academic macroeconomics, these guys are absolutely useless, most of them. Ask your brother-in-law. I’m sure he thinks, as do 90% of us, that most of what the macro guys do in academia is just worthless rubbish. Worthless, useless, uninteresting rubbish, catering to a very few people in their own little cliques.

I’m not sure most people in the outside world would make a distinction between macro and microeconomists.

I know. It’s up to us to educate them. I got this line from a friend in architecture the other day. He said exactly the same thing. I went through the same litany, trying to disabuse him of this notion. It’s like pushing a stone up a giant hill. It’s not going to get me very far, I agree. But nonetheless it is the case that most of us, and most of what we do, remains tremendously useful, tremendously relevant, and also fun!

3 Comments to “Hamermesh on macro”

  1. So true. Anecdotally at least, the impression I get is the general public including politicians/media/non-econ intellectuals perceive econ=macro. And if they’ve previously had experience of econ at uni then it’s econ=micro+macro+metrics and even then micro=demand+supply (and if they’ve read ‘Nudge’ +behavioral econ. which apparently debunks ‘rationality’).

  2. Alternatively econ=study to make money.

  3. This is also the guy that thought it appropriate to rank female students on his campus on live television. He might be right about micro vs macro but he is surely not the one to be talking about economics rigour when ranking people on a campus using the eyeball method constitutes good science.

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