Long piece in the Review section of this weekend’s WSJ raising up and cataloguing some of the successes and triumphs of economists. The piece, by Journal chief economics commentator Greg Ip, is aptly headlined “In Defense of the Dismal Science,” economics being the Rodney Dangerfield of academic disciplines.
IP makes a good case for economists and their numbers, and his piece repays the reading time. But even Ip concedes there have been trends and large economic events that have taken economists as much by surprise as anyone else. And, like all of us, they’ve gotten some stuff wrong. So it may be a good time here to remember P.J. O’Rourke’s tongue-in-cheek (I think) explanation of the difference between micro and macro economics, which, read with Ip’s article, provides a bit of balance.
I paraphrase here from memory, but I believe I have it right. Microeconomics, our P.J. informs us, are things economists are specifically wrong about, whereas macroeconomics are things economists are wrong about in a general sort of way.