Will people still ignore her? Ah, the age-old riddle: as economists gain powerful new data tools and vastly wider audiences, why don't they have any noticeable effect on economic decisions, especially at the government level?
Seriously, never have more bright minds outlined more reasonable solutions to today's problems only to serve as background mumbling for seemingly uninformed policy decisions. Consider these examples:
- The carbon tax - clearly the better way to deal with carbon emissions. Not a prayer.
- Free trade - without a doubt essential to continued prosperity here and abroad, and it could likely cost the election for Sen. McCain
- Farm subsidies - nearly uniform repugnance across the economic community, and lawmakers couldn't ignore them more.
- Speculation - the consensus of economists point out speculators cannot change prices long term, but regulators are aiming for them anyway.
- Energy independence - the fool's gold of energy policy, and a the same time a standard campaign promise.
First, many leading economists are unable to articulate issues in language other than academic. They are speaking in a foreign language to consumers. In the quest for precision of expression, they write abstruse, desperately-in-need-of-a-mean-editor prose that reads like mathematical Proust.
Second, habitual professional detachment when discussing economic issues tends to make them sound aloof and uncaring. (Giving the benefit of the doubt here) Indeed, many of their arguments seem to be about the arguments, not the problems of people.
Third, tenure isolates most economists from the emotional impact of bad economic news. I find myself more likely to listen to private sector economists even though they have a possibility to bias.
Fourth, and most alarming: they have no palatable answers. These guys are Bad News Incarnate - at least the competent ones. We've tried all the fun solutions already.
I am sure there are other factors, but it is clear to me that any innovative and helpful guidance from the economic community will be the exception, and will mostly exist within private business. Meanwhile they have great blogs.
Just nothing much to show for it in the real world.