Thou Shalt Not Overcomplicate Things

Brilliant analysis of consumer choice and assumptions behind economic modelling

Econ Off the Shelf

Justin Fox has a short piece at Bloomberg View that asks “What’s Wrong With ‘Mathiness’ in Economics?

He begins by characterizing (caricaturizing?) the pre-math economics profession as confused and garrulous philosophers:

Once upon a time economists made their arguments in long, discursive, often contradictory books…

Thankfully, Paul Samuelson brought math to the field like Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai to the lost and wayward Israelites.

In the 1940s Paul Samuelson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology brought enlightenment, in the form of elegant mathematical treatments of the major concepts in economics.

[…]

Samuelson’s approach gave the discipline a, well, discipline that it had previously lacked, and enabled economics to make great leaps in coherence and rigor.

But, just a few words later, Fox admits that

It also made the field incomprehensible to laypeople, but that turned out to be more a feature than a bug. Economists…

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