Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Smartest Economist on the Planet

Now I am not an economist, nor would I ever want to be one. I read Krugman, I know Summers from afar, I even had Samuelson as an instructor and cajoled Solow to give a talk or two for my company a few decades ago. Over the past few years I have been exceedingly critical, especially of the institutional know-it-alls who have gotten us into this mess. No it was not just Wall Street. You see Wall Street is just a bunch of 4 year olds in a sand box. The baby sitters are supposedly those in Government and their advisers.

That did not work out too well. But at the same time I have been following the Canadian Economists in Worthwhile Canadian and frankly they seem to be the only ones making any sense over the past few years, and indeed a great deal of sense. Perhaps that is why Canada has so little a set of problems. Also it makes my wife and her Nova Scotia brethren happy.

But today Nick Rowe had what I could call a brilliant piece, a commentary on knowns, and unknowns. It is really worth the read, as is all of Rowe's works. His final words in the piece are: 

We draw a supply and demand curve and point to where the two curves cross. We shift the supply and demand curves and point to where the two new curves cross. The only people who talk about the process of getting from the first point to the second point are: teachers of Economics 1000; Austrian economists. 

Maybe it takes time to get from the first point to the second point. Not because people are idiots, in not changing their prices, or not figuring out what's going on and how to react. But because the territory is a lot more complicated than the map. 

And it's always going to be hard to build a map of how the territory is more complicated than the map.

 Yes, the territory is quite complicated. The human genome is trivial as compared to the complexities of our economic world. Once we admit that we can then commence the conversation. Rowe has done that quite elegantly. He is always worth the read. Keep it coming!

But extending this thought a bit, I have a modest proposal, an Irish euphemism for a good idea. Perhaps the US should outsource all of its economic planning to the Canadians.  They seem to be clearer thinkers, they seem to have fewer spats, they do not write whatever comes into their minds sans thought in their blogs, they argue in a rather admirable fashion, and sometimes I really enjoy the ideas they bring forth. Imagine instead of what we have had in the States for the past few years we had a group of genteel thinkers say up in Toronto, just a hop skip and jump outside Detroit  but a world away. Just a thought.