Monday, March 24, 2014

Arrogant physicists -- they think economics is easy?

Economist Chris House wonders why so many physicists are drawn to economics. It's a fair question, and I suppose it must seem strange -- perhaps irritating -- to see people interloping from a foreign field, fully convinced that they'll be able to help out even without formal economics training. Chris thinks the physicists often believe, mistakenly, that they're mathematically superior to economists, and so might be able to sort out some big problems quite easily.

I don't think that's the reason. If anyone does think that, then they're being quite silly. Here's why I think physicists are drawn to economics, over at


  1. Thank you for the post. The failure of macroeconomic theory just when it was needed most should have left an impression on economists. It's a red flag, a warning sign, and one that has zero possibility of being ignored in this day and age.

    The value provided by general equilibrium theory is now outweighed by the fact that it is of no use during market events such as the one we experienced in 2007-2008. That was some sort of phase transition, perhaps a move to another portion of an attractor in some state space.

    If that is what was going on, and the flash crash that followed certainly points in that direction, then it's crucial that we develop model market economies and run them through their paces - the agent based stuff you've discussed.

    I'm not sure what it's going to take to break down the entrenched and heavily blinkered notions of many - not all but many - academic economists, but it better happen quickly. We can't afford this sort of crash and burn given what's at stake in the global economy. It really is all one.

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