What Economists Know (And Don't)

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Ryan Avent outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the field:

Why does it seem to laypeople as though economists can’t agree about anything? I can give you a few reasons. First, Paul Krugman isn’t going to write a column saying, “Here are the many, many things on which both I and my University of Chicago antagonists agree,” and the Journal isn’t going to get Gary Becker to write a column saying, “Indeed, on these many things we see eye-to-eye.” Second, the most riveting economic events are those, like global recessions, that occur infrequently, and about which there is far less certainty than other, more common events.

Adam Ozimek is on the same page. As is Yglesias. Manzi differs:

I’m not arguing that economics has produced nothing of value, but rather that its most useful outputs are more like those of historians than those of biologists. Draping the cloak of “science” over its findings can often be a rhetorical strategy designed to increase the leverage of economists in policy debates.

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