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Opinion
Noah Smith

Breaking the Spell That Grips Economics

The profession had become more like a religion than a scientific discipline grounded in facts.
This can't be real.

This can't be real.

Photographer: Michel Dufour/wireimage/getty images

Back in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, there were a lot of people criticizing macroeconomics, and rightly so. Macro models had failed to include finance, and thus had failed to spot the warning signs in the runup to the crisis. Overconfident macroeconomists had declared that the “central problem of depression-prevention has been solved,” only to be caught flat-footed by a new depression. Central bankers complained that the existing models were too rigid and complex to be of much use in an emergency.

Now, almost a decade later, a new breed of heavyweight macroeconomists has been taking their own field to task. And instead of complaining about the content of the models, they’re upset about the culture of the profession itself.