Friday, January 05, 2007

Solow Japes

Robert Lucas changed the direction of mainstream macroeconomic research. David Warsh reminds me that Robert Solow is unhappy with this direction:
"Suppose somebody sits down where you are sitting now and announces to me that he is Napoleon Bonaparte. The last thing I want to do with him is to get involved in a technical discussion of cavalry tactics at the Battle of Austerlitz. If I do that, I'm getting tacitly drawn into the game that he is Napoleon Bonaparte." -- Robert M. Solow
I also like this quip:
"My impression is that the best and brightest in the profession proceed as if economics is the physics of society. There is a single valid model of the world. You could drop a modern economist from a time machine - a helicopter, maybe, like the one that drops the money - at any time, in any place, along with his or her personal computer; he or she could set up in business without even bothering to ask what time and which place. In a little while, the up-to-date economist will have maximized a familiar-looking present-value integral, made a few familiar log-linear approximations, and run the obligatory familiar regression. The familiar coefficients will be poorly determined, but about one-twentieth of them will be significant at the 5% level, and the other nineteen do not have to be published. With a little judicious selection here and there, it will turn out that the data are just barely consistent with your thesis advisor's hypothesis that money is neutral (or nonneutral, take your choice) everywhere and always, modulo an information asymmetry, don't worry, you'll think of one." -- Robert M. Solow (1984). "Economic History and Economics", Papers and Proceedings of the American Economic Association (Dec.): 330


Anonymous said...

So what do you think of Mankiw's article where that came from?

Robert Vienneau said...

I commented when Mankiw made a draft available. And I am kind.