Sunday, February 24, 2008

Archives from the CEA: Economists as Mystic Soothsayer

So working at the White House meant I was precluded from posting anything political on my blog while working there. Here's one post that I had quarantined until now.

As a government economists, I sometimes feel like a soothsayer in a sophocles comedy (or tragey depending on the day). Indoctrinated through arduous arcane rituals, we are necessary before any decision is made. We utter our pronouncements "beware the ides of march" or "the price of oil increases due to a supply shock based on our econmetrically estimated price elasticities". Our exclusivity means there is rarely more than one of us in any meeting. But that's ok because the indoctrination of our brotherhood/sisterhood means we all share the same opinion. That gives us power. But yet our arcane methods means we are (like cassandra) never quite trusted. Thus we work from the background. Whispering portents and theories into the ears of the powerful, influencing by (selective) analysis but always in the shadows.

Ben "sayer of sooth" Ho


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