8/04/2004

Am I thinking about a degree in economics?…NO!

As we near the end of the summer semester, it’s time to reflect back on what I’ve learned. Dr Tufte’s website asks the question Are you thinking about a degree in economics? Maybe at the beginning of class you are, but by the end the answer might have changed, here’s why.

In the beginning things make sense, you’ve got your short run and your long run and growth etc. pretty straight forward. Then everything changes. It goes kind of like this.

When you’re in a recession you actually might be coming out but don’t know it and by the time you’re coming out you might be going back into one somewhere in there there’s a trough but you can only figure out when that came later when you realized expansion was taking place and let me show you how this works by this graph see that curve it’s not really a curve because it’s a straight line but then in can bow in or out and this can make it move this way but if that happens it can move that way but it will always return to an equilibrium but by then it has already moved because we forgot to factor in this and contraction is actually expansion and even though people have more money they’re poorer and that Keynes guy had it all figured out until some other guy figured out he didn’t then there’s the multiplier effect………….oh wait… I understood that and velocity isn’t constant but really close is that E=MC^2 too late write down these three sentences and then cross them out because that’s not the way it is because a surplus isn’t good and a deficit isn’t bad.

So I’ve given it some thought, and I’ve decided economics is not for me!

And besides, I can’t afford the expensive haircut!

Thanks Dr. Tufte it’s been a great summer.

7 comments:

kamm said...

I have been wondering if anyone felt like me, and that third paragraph describes thoughts that I'm sure many of us have had. When Dr. Tufte explains something, it's usually pretty clear until we start throwing all of those other variables in there, then I get confused. Maybe a lot of it has to do with trying to learn it all at such a fast pace, in only five weeks.

Although it has been a challenging class, one thing is for sure; at the next government election, you can feel confident that you know more about economics than the politicians you will be voting for.

Kid said...

Way to go Rolf. You hit it right on the nose. As Kamm said this class has helped us all know more about economics then some of our politicians. Learning that deficit isn’t really all that bad while surplus is really a lie because the assets are really liabilities. So does that mean that deficit could really be surplus and surplus be deficit?!?!?!

One thing I know is that the next time elections come around, in 4 years, I’m going to pay closer attention to the things the candidates are promising us. I’m going to do this to see which one the most full of crap. Because if I’ve learned anything from Macro it’s that no one really has any control over the economy. They all just wish they did.

C-Dizzle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
C-Dizzle said...

I’ll have to be honest; I don’t think I’ve spent more than five minutes thinking about whether or not I want to be an economist. Economics is like taking everything we know about money and trade and throwing it in a blender.

It reminds me of this song by Eve6 I knew back in the day,
“I would swallow my pride,
I would choke on the rhines,
But the lack thereof would leave me empty inside.
I would swallow my doubt,
Turn it inside out,
Find nothing but faith in nothing.
Want to put my tender
(Economics) in a blender
Watch it spend round
To a beautiful oblivion”.
The economists job is to decipher this oblivion; something I clearly wasn’t meant to do.

As for the expensive haircut, it’s no problem for me. I’ve got friends in the business. It’s getting my hair to stay in that perfect form come rain or shine or tornado or all of the above at once. My hat goes off to those economists!

Dr. Tufte said...

When I was a high school senior and told a much older friend that I wanted to major in economics, he said "you mean common sense made hard"?

BTW: I got B's in both my principles classes as a freshman (even though I already knew that was what I wanted to major in).

I think there are 4 causes for the sentiment of Rolf and the commenters.

1) Economics is just plain hard. Nothing stops conversation with someone you meet at a party like saying "I teach economics". Almost invariably they say "I hated that".

2) Economics is a class that requires a lot of thinking. Most students are pretty good at thinking, but they haven't been rewarded for it too often before getting to an economics class. So they're out of practice.

3) Macroeconomics is harder than microeconomics because it isn't as structured. Microeconomics builds up in a cohesive way, whereas macroeconomics throws a whole bunch of dissimilar details at you, and asks you to combine them into a fruitful form. You may be interested to learn that the lack of cohesiveness of macroeconomics is the underlying reason that growth theory is becoming predominant, and Keynesian theory featuring the Phillips curve is going the way of the dodo. For about 50 years economists have been trying to figure out how to make Keynesian macroeconomics more sensible, and for about 30 years a small but growing group has completely rejected Keynesian ideas as untenable.

4) Most students are horribly miseducated in macroeconomics when they enter class. Their minds have been polluted by politicians and media types who know very little economics, and are pushing other agendas under the guise of macroeconomics. They are intentionally putting up smoke and mirrors in front of you to hide their agendas. It's a shell game, and the typical consumer of media, and politics as filtered through the media, is getting fooled. It's just like The Matrix! LOL ;)

And ... don't forget that we foisted the job of formulating and enacting macroeconomics policy onto democratic institutions that were not designed for this job. A lot of the policy we get is junk, and a lot of what passes for macroeconomics in the media is just a**-covering.

Jordan said...

Dr. Tufte said:

"And ... don't forget that we foisted the job of formulating and enacting macroeconomics policy onto democratic institutions that were not designed for this job. A lot of the policy we get is junk."

I think you're right. We've got a bunch of rich lawyers making decisions that directly impact our economy. Dr. Tufte- Have you ever though of running for an office?

Dr. Tufte said...

Don't be silly - I don't make a good first impression.

Plus ... I might have a "past".