The World's Best Economics Department?

A new website from the University of Chicago’s Initiative on Global Markets (IGM) will “pose one question a week and post answers from 40 senior professors at elite U.S. universities” in an effort to create “the world’s best economics department.”

The WSJ reports: “We’re doing this because we think economists have a distorted role in policy debates,” said Brian Barry, the director of IGM. “When experts fight about minor points they get much more attention than when they broadly agree about important ones. And when they disagree about big issues, the reasons don’t often come through clearly. Sometimes, ideas that are shaky or on the fringe get passed off as mainstream.”  

So far, economists have responded to questions about federal “buy American” mandates, education and taxes


Kevin

How will this proposed discussion board actually address the two main challenges he brought up? The Becker-Posner blog and this website haven't moved the needle much. How will this help?

VH

Two things strike about these polls.
1) I thought much about economics eludes rational people, who aren’t considering the question in the proper context. So if common sense doesn’t always give a correct answer, how can I be sure an opinion poll of economists will give correct answers without a study to backup the claims?
2) There was a piece elsewhere on this blog that reveals experts are only slightly better than random guessing at predict an event will occur in their field. Even worse, experts think they know more than they actually do. Is it of any use to weight these expert economists by their confidence in their answer?
http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/06/30/the-folly-of-prediction-full-transcript/

DaveyNC

@VF, re: your second point--touche'

Ned

If the website wants to create the 'world’s best economics department' then it should look in places other than just 'elite U.S. universities'. If it wants to create the worlds most elitist, american exceptionalist, grossly imcompetent economics department then it is looking in the right place.