John Cochrane podcast… worth a listen

A nice interview with John Cochrane from University of Chicago on Economic Rockstars.  He has good sensible things to say about all sorts of subjects, and you learn he is an avid glider pilot.  Wow!  Highly recommended, but for me one false note.  Towards the end of the interview he is asked about his “conversion moment” from physics to economics.  He talks about a micro class where he first learns about the kinked budget constraint of poor people on welfare.  In his retelling this was a key moment: the objective tools of microeconomics could be used to understand poverty.  No more need poverty be couched in moral subjective blah blah.  He could apply physics/math tools (objective no bullshit reasoning) to address society’s most critical problems.  Except that when you look at his research page, all his research is at a very abstract level of the economy.  Poor people are just not there (poor models are, but not poor people!). Sure, macroeconomics and financial markets matter, but not at the gut level of Cochrane’s conversion story.  What happened, one thinks, is that he used physics/math tools (objective no bullshit reasoning) to address economist’s most critical problems.  Not quite the same thing.  Still, respect, duh.  The guy is brilliant.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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