Economist Know Less Today Than They Did 40 Years Ago

Paul Krugman

Photo: Dave Shankbone via Flickr

In a few hours Sylvia Nasar and I will have an on-stage dialogue at the 92nd Street Y, centered around her new book The Grand Pursuit, which offers a set of fascinating portraits of the makers of economics. (Irving Fisher invented the Rolodex?) But as I was reading her book I have to admit that I found myself wondering whether there’s much to celebrate.I’ve never liked the notion of talking about economic “science” — it’s much too raw and imperfect a discipline to be paired casually with things like chemistry or biology, and in general when someone talks about economics as a science I immediately suspect that I’m hearing someone who doesn’t know that models are only models. Still, when I was younger I firmly believed that economics was a field that progressed over time, that every generation knew more than the generation before.

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