Leading Economists Experience Panic Attack In Chicago Over Lost Credibility
Over the weekend, America’s leading economists gathered in Chicago for their annual AEA conference. The mood perfectly encapsulates the current state of affairs of a profession that is more to blame for our current predicament than any other.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
CHICAGO—The nation’s leading economists are suffering an identity crisis as many of the institutions they helped build and causes they advanced have come in for public scorn and rejection at the ballot box.
The angst was on display this weekend at the annual conference of the American Economic Association, the profession’s largest gathering. The conference is a showcase for agenda-setting research, a giant job fair for the nation’s most promising young economists and, this year, the site of endless discussion about how to rebuild trust in the discipline.
Many academic economists have been champions of free trade and globalization, ideas under assault among rising populist movements in advanced economies around the world. The rise of President-elect Donald Trump, with his fierce rhetoric against elites, in particular, left many at this conference questioning their place in the world.
“The economic elite did many things to undermine their credibility while people’s economic fortunes were taking a turn for the worse,” said Steven Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago. But a road map for regaining trust is elusive…
A separate survey from Marketplace-Edison Research, conducted in October, asked U.S. adults how much they trusted data about the economy that is reported by the federal government. A quarter of respondents said they “do not trust it at all” while another 19% said they somewhat distrust it.
That is difficult to comprehend at a conference like this, where 13,000 attendees assembled for more than 500 presentations, many of which are built around findings that heavily use that government data.
This year, academics are out in the cold. During the election The Wall Street Journal contacted every former member of the CEA, including those going back to President Richard Nixon. None had been tapped as an adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign, nor did any publicly endorse him.
The president-elect is “not particularly interested in hearing from the academic economist club,” Mr. Davis said.
That’s the best thing Trump’s got going for him.
That could leave him missing needed advice. Still, the profession may have brought this on itself, said Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia professor and Nobel winner. Anger among voters was to be expected, because globalization in particular was sold in part with broken promises.
“In many ways, economic science was more honest,” he said, referring to the fact that some would win but others could lose from free trade. “It only said that under certain conditions winners could compensate losers, not that they would.”
Naturally, they didn’t.
Moving along, it’s not just economists who are struggling with the post-November 8th environment. As Politico reports, Hillary campaign operatives are even hiding the work they did with her campaign in a attempt to get jobs:
The job market is about to get even more crowded for Washington Democrats, as thousands of Obama appointees join the hundreds of Clinton campaign staffers looking for employment.
There’s rarely been less demand for their services.
The Trump tornado is tearing up post-election planning around the Beltway. It’s not just that those 4,000 administration jobs are no longer available to Hillary for America alumni, or that failed Senate candidates like Russ Feingold and Katie McGinty won’t be able to hire their staff on the Hill. There are also the lobbying firms, trade associations and corporate government affairs offices that are pitching senior Obama aides’ resumes into the round file while scrambling to hire operatives with Republican connections.
It’s insult to injury for a generation of young operatives who are still managing their shock and grief from Hillary Clinton’s loss. And for those who want to fight to keep President Barack Obama’s legacy from being erased, there aren’t a lot of places ready to pay them to do it.
“It feels like there are just thousands of us trying to find a job, and there are no jobs,” said Mira Patel, a longtime Clinton aide who went from her Senate office to the State Department and, starting last summer, her presidential campaign.
“I have two sets of resumes,” said Kessler-Dellaccio. One highlights all her work fundraising and recruiting volunteers for Clinton. But after repeatedly seeing job postings looking for Republican connections, Kessler-Dellaccio says she “quite literally stripped out all of the Hillary stuff” out of her alternate C.V.
She added, “I have friends who even on LinkedIn have removed any Democratic Party alignment because they’re afraid if employers see too much Hillary stuff they’re not going to get a job.”
More seasoned Clinton aides had tried to warn the younger generations who’d spent their whole adulthoods under President Obama that Democratic dominance wasn’t necessarily permanent.
“Never count on a Democratic administration,” Patel recalled being told. “I was like, ‘Oh, come on, this is gonna be great.’”
Kinda sums it up, doesn’t it.
Before getting too demoralized, Clinton campaign staff can always look to the kind folks at Google to help them get back on their feet. As The Daily Caller noted:
A Google executive organized an online resume bank for outgoing White House staff and campaign staffers from the Clinton, Obama and other Democratic campaigns in order to help them find work, according to the Wall Street Journal. Laslo Bock, Google’s outgoing Chief of Human Resources is leading an effort to help Hillary For America staff and others find work after the devastating losses.
Not that this should come as a surprise when it comes to Google. The company’s executives were always unabashedly “with her.”
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Chris Arnade summed it all up rather well in a series of tweets…
1. There are experts who study complex systems: pilots, surgeons, civil engineers
Then there experts who often blown smoke: like economists
— Chris Arnade (@Chris_arnade) January 9, 2017
1. There are experts who study complex systems: pilots, surgeons, civil engineers… Then there experts who often blown smoke: like economists
2. It is not that economics is not a science — it is. It is that it is a science with high incentives (power and money), to do it badly.
3. Wall Street pays big bucks for bad Econ. Think tanks pay big bucks for bad Econ. And politicians listen way too much to bad Econ.
4. My bumper sticker for 2017: listen to economists less, sociologist more… Oh. And pay real experts: pilots, & engineers etc more
5. There is good economics being done. But it not often stuff getting money or attention… “Stocks will drop if Trump wins!” gets attention
6. Hallmark of good Eco is same as most good science– knowing the limitations and assumptions of the field.
7. The end