Chocolate Is to Nobel Prizes What Protectionism Is to Welfare

It’s not every day that central bankers talk about chocolate.

Speaking to university students in New York on Wednesday, Bundesbank board member Andreas Dombret cited a 2012 paper by physician and researcher Franz Messerli that studied the correlation between chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel laureates per population. Unsurprisingly, the strongest link was found in Switzerland. 

While Messerli himself was careful not to claim that he had found a causal link, Dombret says the research serves a perfect example for the kind of false conclusions populist movements have drawn from separate data.

“Confusing correlation with causation is amusing -- but it is also disturbingly similar to what we are seeing in current political debates. Is the idea that more chocolate leads to more Nobel prizes really any different from the idea that protectionism brings back old jobs? Is it really any different from the idea that Brexit or the breakup of the European Union would bring with it increased welfare and security?”

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