Economists Do It With Models

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What Economists Do, Now With More Infographic…

February 17th, 2012 · 7 Comments
Just For Fun

I think I’m behind the times, since I didn’t know that these were a thing until I saw one of them a couple of days ago:

I’m having flashbacks to the time that my mom (or perhaps some other family member, I can’t remember) asked me to fix her hard drive: “But I studied computer science, not hardware…see, I design algorithms and analyze complexity…oh never mind, just hand me the damn computer.” I think this is a pretty accurate depiction, except that I think that the friends/Mom panels should be something more about finance than what appears to be accounting. (“Oh, you’re an economist? Tell me, what stocks should I be invested in right now?” And facepalm ensues…)

I particularly like the crystal ball panel- it reminds me of the first radio interview I ever did, where the guy (who supposedly knew what I studied and what he was supposed to ask about) led with “so, when is the economy going to turn around?” I responded with a sarcastic comment about my crystal ball was in the shop and proceeded to give a rant about what academic economists do and don’t do. (You can place your bets now on whether I was asked back to the show.) The last panel also nicely illustrates my frustration regarding the difference between positive and normative:

I felt really clever about posting the above infographic on my Facebook page, but apparently I was late to the game and a number of others were already out there:

That one is okay, but I really think that the last panel should read “Hamiltonian” rather than “Cobb-Douglas”. I’m also starting to notice a Rich Uncle Pennybags theme going on here, and I’m sad to report that most (academic) economists aren’t part of the one percent…but, hey society, thanks for the vote of confidence, ok?

Yep, those two panels on the right are pretty much on the nose, especially judging by what my classroom looked like the other day:

After looking at these, though, I realized that people were making things too complicated, so, as a microeconomist who has to, to some degree, cater to what people want to read/hear about, I came up with my own:

Nailed it.

Tags: Just For Fun

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Punditus Maximus // Feb 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I don’t know why, but Cobb-Douglas jokes always make me giggle endlessly.

  • 2 EconoNerd // Feb 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Lagrangian solutions to life-cycle utility maximization? Am I reading your blackboard correctly?

  • 3 econgirl // Feb 17, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Yep- specifically in the context of the Ramsey-Cass-Koopmans model. In related news, your screen name is very appropriate. 🙂

  • 4 EconoNerd // Feb 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Haha, thank you! I am a great big economics nerd which is why I always stay current on the updates & awesome resources you provide the good folks 😀

  • 5 Punditus Maximus // Feb 18, 2012 at 12:07 am

    The problem with the whole “normative” vs. “positive” thing is that it’s so easy to code normative value judgments into supposedly positive analysis. For example, just measuring consumer & producer surplus and using it to proclaim one policy better than another implicitly endorses the absurd claim that Bill Gates gets the same utility from $20,000 as I do. That’s a normative claim, that it “should” be true. Assuming that greater consumption of goods that cost money is always better, even if it involves less consumption of goods that don’t cost direct money (clean air, drinkable water, peace of mind), is making certain assumptions about what people should value.

    Anyways, just musing. I’m also not a huge fan of macro models from micro, since micro is rarely supported by the evidence, and macro is often well-supported. Seems like we should be coming down from the other direction.

  • 6 Ilir Deebran // Feb 20, 2012 at 1:47 am

    Try teaching class after the students see this video. Can you explain the tradeoff between quality and convenience with curvature and slope? Can you tell us what these fundamental concepts are since they dominate all of our lives?

  • 7 Punditus Maximus // Feb 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    You know, the more I think about it, the more I think “what economists do” should just be labeled as “provide intellectual cover for rich looters.”

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