Damnable Diatribes on the Monstrous Macroecomic Mess Maelstrom

Being born on November 9th, I will get the end of this campaign for my birthday (tough luck Josh Barro of course this also means that I couldn’t vote in 1978 the year I turned 18 (but neither could J Barro so there)).

It also means that my astrological sign is scorpio, which is relevant to this post.

The humiliation of contemporary macroeconomics has become extremely acute. Leading macroeconomist Paul Romer ruthlessly mocked his own approximate field of study.

Now Daniel Drezner wrote in the Washington Post

The state of macroeconomics is not good

If you think international relations theory has problems, let me introduce you to the most influential and problematic subfield of economics.

Pwnd. Sick burn. I mean to be mocked by a fellow macroeconomist is bad, but for an professor of international releations to look down on macroeconomics with pity is humiliating.

I am afraid to check my horoscope. I expect it will read

Scorpio: Reading The Washington Post today will cause you to both laugh out loud and curse the day you chose your idiotic career (but mostly laugh).

Yes I just equated the scientific values of international relations theory, modern macroeconomics, and astrology.

The point of this post (if any) is that this isn’t new. Back in the 80s I entered an inner sanctum of economics — the NBER main office at 1050 Mass Avenue. This was a tiny researc on one floor of a medium sized building which had the right to host NSF grants & so was drowning in money. Many of the few offices had eminent occupants including Paul Krugman & Larry Summers. There was a main entrance but, after hours research assistants and such entered by side doors. Immediately after entering one, we saw a desk displaying a poster which claimed to illustrate an astrological model of the business cycle. It was used by one of the resident labor economists who had a very 21st century view of the scientific status of macroeconomics.

Brad DeLong also worked there and said in 1983 or so that he had decided not to concentrate in macroeconomics, because he thought the field had entered a blind alley where it would be stuck for decades. Thus he both denounced and displayed rational expectations.

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