Raymond Chandler meets Paul Krugman

Now here’s how to write an economics op-ed.

"Why should I?" she said, finally showing her true colors. "Any intervention would just cuff the invisible hand, doing more harm than good." She was Milton Friedman with the body of Scarlett Johansson. I had to get outta there.

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5 Comments

Filed under Readings in Politics

5 responses to “Raymond Chandler meets Paul Krugman

  1. arp

    Aside from Winnie Monsod and Ciel Habito, I don’t see anyone else out there who actually “gets” economics. Everytime I hear someone cry price gouging by the Big Three oil firms, I want to gouge my eyes out. How could these people have possibly passed Econ 101 (or Econ 11, in UP’s case)?

    Everywhere I turn in the op-ed pages, someone’s crying out against liberalization/globalitaztion. There is a serious lack of economic knowledge out there in the papers, and it’s not just in op-ed.

    I remember an article in the Inquirer that went something like this (roughly): “If the demand increases, supply decreases.” OMFG. I’m not even going into the difference between quantity demanded and demand but COME ON.

    And just recently, Dan Mariano of The Manila Times suggested we just “buy the gas that we need”. Uh…hello? Why would I buy the gas I don’t need?!

  2. Thanks for dropping by, arp. It really is hard to “translate” economese into layman’s language. Sometimes, in the effort to simplify matters, everything is lost. I suppose in part this is because of general innumeracy, and in part because of the “language” economists speak. (Galbraith, bless his soul, had a few choice words to say about that.)

  3. arp

    For me, it’s not really about translating economic jargon into popular pieces but really (1) the blatant misrepresentation of economic theory and (2) the conspicuous absence of those who get it. Of course, (2) can partly be explained by the fact that those who lose out on globalization are naturally for more cohesive (and therefore noisier) than those who will benefit. That is, since the cost of globalization is far more concentrated (say, on a particular industry) vis-a-vis the benefits (spread out over the entire population), those who get hit find it more worthwhile to organize and oppose the trend compared to those who benefit whose act of organizing themselves will eventually outweigh the benefits of globalization, despite the fact that on the aggregate, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Sorry, did I make sense?

    On the issue of (1), I guess it’s just harder to sell non-trivial (i.e., non-obvious) things, which is sometimes what economic theory is. Take comparative advantage, for example.

    With regard to the innumeracy of journalists, you’ll probably have a better idea of that. What I do know from experience is that a good number of those who got kicked out of the UP School of Economics found themselves having a blast at the College of Mass Communication. 😉

  4. arp

    And, just to add, relating to the last paragraph I put in: I suppose local newspapers should start making way for non-journalists who are experts (somehwat) in their field and with a little bit of writing skill to put in a good number of articles. This is the strategy of The Economist (at least, for their science section). When they put out an add for writers, what they look for are scientists who can write, not journalists who can write about science. I think it’s much easier to break the linguistic barrier if someone who knows the jargon tries to popularize it as opposed to someone who doesn’t know the jargon trying to pull it back down from the Ivory Tower.

  5. arp

    I meant “ad”, of course, not “add”. LOL

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