Calling on the Wrong Profession: Time to Listen Less to Economists

Robert D. Atkinson March 15, 2021
March 15, 2021

As hard as it is to believe, there was a time—before the New Deal—when economists were largely treated like any other interest group, occasionally saying something interesting, but usually ignored by policymakers.

As Rob Atkinson recounts in American Compass, all that changed when Keynesian economics started to be seen to the solution of business cycle downturns, and then after the War with rapid expansion of economics graduate school enrollments. Quite quickly, what become known as neoclassical economics established its intellectual monopoly where only they were allowed to pontificate on economic matters. Neoclassical economists became the priesthood with the power to bless or curse any and all economic ideas, backed up with the ability to intellectually excommunicate non-believers.

It’s time for Washington to end its cult of economics and start to approach economic problems for what they are: institutional, sectoral and firm problems. That means starting to call on the advice of technology policy researchers, business administration scholars, planners and others who actually study and understand the real economy.