Alex Tabarrok posted yesterday on the relationship between the economics blogosphere and academic economics. He identifies three contrasts between economics blogging and publication in academic economics journals:
- Blogs are fast, journals are slow
- Blogs are open, journals are closed
- Journals reward cleverness, policy requires wisdom
He notes that blogs play a key role in policy debate not simply because it is possible to conduct the debate on a timescale that is relevant to policy (fast not slow) but also because blogs allow you to do things that journals don’t value. The journals worry about the logical consistency and coherence of models, and are less concerned about whether the models capture particular real world situations in meaningful ways. In contrast, policy needs the judicious application not just of an economic model but also “economic history … psychology, politics and law”. The sort of knowledge useful for policy is hard to represent in the academic economic journals. It is inherently eclectic: wisdom not cleverness.
These aspects of Tabarrok’s post reminds me of some of the comments made by policymakers who participated in the debates at the UK Treasury a while ago on what sort of economics education is useful for policy.
But Tabarrok takes things further than that discussion with his second point. [Read more…]