Friday, February 16, 2007

When I knew I was hooked 

A student once asked "when did you know you wanted to be an economist?" It wasn't in college or even when I decided to go to graduate school (that was all about avoidance). It was in my second year in grad school when a faculty member handed me a copy of "Life Among the Econ" by Axel Leijonhufvud. It's now online; it is a satire of the economics profession that I find tremendously funny. If the following excerpt doesn't do it for you, don't click to read the rest of the article.
The following sketchy account of the �prospecting�-ceremony among the Macro brings out several of the riddles that currently perplex Econologists working in this area:
The elder grasps the LM with his left hand and the IS with his right and, holding the totem out in front of himself with elbows slightly bent, proceeds in a straight line-�gazing neither left nor right� in the words of their ritual-out over the chosen terrain. The grads of the village skip gaily around him at first, falling silent as the trek grows longer and more wearisome. On this occasion, it was long indeed and the terrain difficult ... the grads were strung out in a long, morose and bedraggled chain behind their leader who, sweat pearling his brow, face cast in grim determination, stumbled onward over the obstacles in his path... At long last, the totem vibrates, then oscillates more and more; finally, it points, quivering, straight down. The elder waits for the grads to gather round and then pronounces, with great solemnity: �Behold, the Truth and Power of the Macro.�
I'd tell you how we do forecasting, but then I'd have to kill you.