Economists in a Coal Mine

From the Onion, “Nation’s Economists Quietly Evacuating Their Families”:

As employment stagnates, manufacturing continues its slump, and overall confidence in the U.S. financial system wavers, the nation’s economists have begun abandoning their homes and sending their loved ones overseas. “We’ve noticed a trend among the leading economic thinkers, be they Keynsians, supply-siders, or students of the Austrian school—they’re putting their families on one-way flights out of the country, often leaving half-finished survival bunkers behind them,” Paul Klement, an analyst with the Brookings Institute, told reporters Tuesday.

This, meanwhile, is not a joke: Economists for Romney today announces that its statement in support of Mitt Romney for President has been signed by more than 400 economists, including Nobelists Gary Becker, Robert Lucas, Robert Mundell, Edward Prescott, and Myron Scholes.

(HT: Dave Domingo)



The Onion is a parody news website. It's satire.


yes i think they know hence, "This, meanwhile, is not a joke:"


Yes, that made me think about it, but the tweet linking to this article said 'The Onion reports...'.

Doug Laney

Yet, in a 2008 study, 66% of economists (523 US economists surveyed) favored Obama's economic policies, from which arguably he has not deviated. (Study:

And in Freakonomics' own post 4 years ago, 80% of economists favored Obama's plans.

Economists flip-flopping too? No, it couldn't be!


To be fair, Obama's policy recommendations may not have changed, but what is economically wise may have changed, hence the "flip flopping. " The economists in general liked Obama's plan better than McCain's plan. That is not to say that they thought Obama's ideas were all that great, it was better than the alternative. Times, markets, and policy recommendations change. After all, if a particular macroeconomic theory always held true in all circumstances, what would be the point in empirical analysis to test said theory? Isn't that what is being criticized in macro? With such large-scale market changes (like those introduced in the ACA) occurring now and waiting on the horizon, it's hard to believe that the government can accurately predict macroeconomic behavior in the long run, which is probably why these 400 economists included state flexibility and cost-benefit analysis in their statement.


Kiaser Zohsay

I was beginning to think something like this actually happened, when there had been no new posts on the blog since Aug 10. That was right before I figured out that the feed URL changed.

Bob Summ

It seems that Romney has 5 more votes thanks to well known purveyors of the dismal science. Is this a trend or a blip?

Eric M. Jones.

400...? Does this mean something?

Occupational Title: Economist. 2010 number of jobs: 15,400
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


I am not an economist, but if I were, I would be very aware that I worked in a field that relies heavily on research grants from the government. I'd be very hesitant to express any sort of partisan political views, to endorse any particular parties or candidates, or to criticize anyone who might hold power over my livelihood in the near future. I haven't seen any real statistics on it but I have to imagine that out of 15,400 economists, 400 is a significant number of those who are willing to publicly express a political opinion.
More importantly, I'm far more impressed by the names on the list than by the number of people on it:
Gary Becker, Nobel laureate
Robert Lucas, Nobel laureate
Robert Mundell, Nobel laureate
Edward Prescott, Nobel laureate
Myron Scholes, Nobel laureate

If any one of those people, all on their own, bothered to share an opinion with me, I'd take the time to consider it.



Quite honestly, I wouldn't regard the 400 number, or the names, as significant in and of itself. After all, it is (using your figure) only 2.6% of economists, Now if there was a similar "Economists for Obama" group, it would be interesting to know whether it has 40 signers, or 4000.

I'd also wonder whether the "fors" are making their choice based on economics, or on other issues. Certainly that's been true for me in many elections: economics becomes insignificant compared to positions on other issues.


cool- maybe all that prestige can get him to reveal his tax forms, unless those economists are for tax evasion


Comparing the stock market in the hoover depression years versus the period since Obama came to power says a lot about the value of the stimulus, which was agreed to by gw bush and the pubs even before Obama became president.

Without the stimulus logic would say DJIA now would look like it did after herbie h. and instead
it has risen 63%, from about 8000 when bush left to about 13000 now.


When gw bush left, DJIA was at 8000, and now---OVER 12000---50% + increase

HISTORIC, UNPRECEDENTED and a great creation of wealth.

Take a look at DJIA the last time we had a market crash of the gw bush
magnitude: it was under herbie hoover, A REPUBLICAN AND NOT BRIGHT.

January 2, 1930 244.20
January 2, 1931 169.84
December 31, 1931 77.90

May 25, 1932 49.10
July 8, 1932 41.22
December 30, 1932 60.26
DJIA MOVING DOWN about 60% under GOP,

as opposed to moving up



David Bley

It does not seem to me that the "science" of economics has had any impact on the world at all. If there is consensys on anything, it does not seem to operate in a manner that improves the world.

Eric M. Jones.

"...I have here in my hand a list of 205...a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being Economists... and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department...."

dave gershner

A brilliant person in his field can have a bent view on the world around. Matisse one of the most brilliant impressionist had no understanding of the world around him and terrible hygiene. Dr. Becker likely has good hygiene, though you never know, but is not necessarily to be relied on in politics.

Has there really been a successful GOP prez since t. roosevelt: not gw bush, nix/ford, ike? certainly not reagan bush with 3 recessions, stock market crash, savings/loan scandal, iran/contra, raygun's senior security advisors going to jail and the worst, all those Marines dying in Lebanon and ronnie tucks tail and runs.

Surely even Dr. Becker knows best stock markets always with Dems in White House, DJIA up about 63% since Obama came to power, whereas it fell during cheney/bush reign of error from 11000 to 8000.

If you care about your children and your money, you won't bet on romney/ryan. Very dangerous men to know nothing of foreign policy, ryan never even in business, just government, and roms, well it's not that hard to make millions when you're the son of a multimillionaire. And what of Bain capital, I've read Obama has raised more money at Bain than mittens. Likely tells a lot. But, please ask Becker.