Noah Smith 🐇🇺🇦 Profile picture
Jan 7, 2018 26 tweets 8 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
1/OK, here is a thread for econ critics.

Sweeping criticism of the econ profession - especially of the type published in British newspapers - continue to focus on macroeconomic forecasting.

For example:………
2/I continue to receive regular tweets, blog comments, and the occasional email from people who tell me that economists are charlatans because of the failure to predict the 2008 crisis.

3/But even a cursory glance at the #ASSA2018 hashtag, which displays presentations and papers from the biggest econ convention, will show that most economists are NOT doing what the critics seem to think they're doing.

For example...
4/Here are economists studying gender in the workplace.…,,
5/Here are economists studying occupational licensing.…
6/Here are economists studying inventors, including the effects of race and gender.…,,
7/Here are economists studying the shift to contract work.…
8/Here are economists studying early childhood education.…,,
9/Here are economists studying the minimum wage.…
10/Here are economists studying the geography of economic opportunity.…
11/Here are economists studying the link between wages and company size.

12/Here are economists studying race, education and crime.

13/Here are economists studying automation and the future of jobs.

14/Here are economists studying consumer financial behavior.

15/Here are economists studying wage stagnation.

16/Here are economists studying alternative ways to measure human well-being.

17/Here are economists studying inequality and its relation to global growth.

18/Here are economists studying the history of inequality.

19/Here are economists studying multiple types of inequality.

20/OK, enough. If you want more, check out the #ASSA2018 hashtag or the conference program (which has downloadable abstracts and papers):…

I think I've made my point.
21/Macroeconomic forecasting is only a tiny, tiny piece of what economists do.

Even the study of recessions itself is only a small piece of the profession.
22/The whole shtick of calling economics a pseudoscience, charlatanic, etc. based on failed macro forecasts is wearing very thin.

23/British newspapers like the @guardian and the @Telegraph need to stop publishing these blanket denunciations of the economics profession that are focused on macro, or macro forecasting.

It's just getting ridiculous.
24/Also, note that the #ASSA2018 papers I cited (and a great many of those I didn't cite!) give the lie to several other standard criticisms of econ, for example:

* econ assumes perfect rationality

* econ doesn't care about inequality

* econ doesn't care about happiness

25/There are legitimate criticisms to be made of the econ profession - sexism, too much inclusion of pointless theory sections in papers, publication bias, bad benchmark models in some fields, etc. etc.

But the standard Guardian/Telegraph-style broadside should go extinct now.
26/If you're going to criticize econ, criticize the real thing, not the typical, worn-out, inaccurate caricature.


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More from @Noahpinion

Oct 7, 2018
Yes, we have been more divided than we are now. Within living memory.
Labor disputes used to kill hundreds of people!…
In 1932 Douglas MacArthur called in tanks on protesting veterans, injuring over a thousand people!
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Oct 6, 2018
"Noah" is at the point where it's a common enough name where there are lots of Noahs around, but still uncommon enough that people get us confused a lot.
I keep feeling guilty about being mistaken for Noah Feldman and angry about being mistaken for Noah Berlatsky...
Then there's that guy Noah Smith who does computer science at the University of Washington, who is way handsomer and more successful than I am...but nobody mistakes me for him because I'm much louder and more online... :D
Read 4 tweets
Oct 4, 2018
1/OK so, I might as well give my take on this new Sokal Hoax on culture studies:…
2/Sokal hoaxes are funny pranks - at least I find them funny.

And they probably do point to an important problem in academia - the "publish or perish" ethos that forces many academics to publish low-quality papers, often (though not always) in low-ranked journals.
3/Our country has decided that research is the mark of a good professor, but the demand for professors as teachers far outstrips the supply of good research to be done.

So tons of profs spend their time doing useless signaling.

That's what Sokal hoaxes are picking up on.
Read 13 tweets
Oct 3, 2018
Democrats' midterm enthusiasm advantage over Republicans seems to have evaporated:…

Is this from Kavanaugh? Something else?
Plus GOP approval ratings are up. Wild.…
Here's a third poll showing basically the same things.…
Read 4 tweets
Oct 1, 2018
Today's @bopinion post is about the EITC, which is awesome, and about @RoKhanna's plan to expand the EITC, which is also awesome.…
Here's a picture of how the Brown-Khanna plan would change the EITC. It's a very big expansion, but the cost ($140B/yr) is worth it, given how effective this program is at fighting poverty.
Another idea is to add a modest Universal Basic Income to the EITC. That would keep the EITC's work incentive, but would also provide much-needed income support to people who can't work.
Read 5 tweets
Sep 30, 2018
1/Here's a thread about why it kind of annoys me when people talk about "elites" in America.

I don't think the American elite is unified. I think what we have are a bunch of different elites that often don't even talk to each other or like each other that much.
2/Here are some groups in America who might reasonably be called "elites":
1. Tech industry businesspeople
2. D.C. lawyers and politicos
3. NYC finance people
4. Hollywood people
5. Academics at universities scattered throughout the country
6. Writers
7. CEOs
3/Now, the first thing to notice is the geographic separation between these clusters of elites.

Tech people in SF try to keep track of what D.C. lawyers are thinking and vice versa, doesn't usually seem to work out that well. And the cultures are VERY different.
Read 9 tweets

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