Pursuit of Truthiness

my gut tells me I know economics

Economics Subfield Interests

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Like all areas of inquiry in the modern era, economics has been broken off into progressively narrower subfields, so that as the sum of human knowledge expands people can still feel as if they have mastered their “field”, however narrowly it has been defined.

With a healthy supply of youthful arrogance and naiveté, I hope I can reach a much broader understanding.

So what is worth studying in economics?

The practical answer is: econometrics. Econometricians are able to use their knowledge of economics, math and statistics to draw inferences from mounds of raw data. In the era of the internet, data is becoming ubiquitous, so its analysis is at a premium; econometricians can go into government, academia, or even the private sector.

The ambitious (power-craving) answer is: Applied macroeconomics. This is the most sure stepping stone to obtaining powerful, unelected government positions in the Federal Reserve, Treasury, or Council of Economic Advisers.

The ambitious (important mystery-solving) answer is: Development, health care, or macroeconomics. These fields each study complicated systems which effect just about everyone in the world. They are each fields into which many highly intelligent and driven people have poured their lives into studying; these people have discovered some simple rules, but the fields remain full of problems that have not been fully solved. These are the fields where the biggest payoff to society at large would accrue if they were to be “figured out”.

Our approach to each of these, especially health care, is likely to undergo sweeping changes in the near future. There is broad agreement of the need to reform health care policy, but very little agreement or understanding of what these reforms could look like. It is extremely possible that the desire for change, the pent-up political will, will be spent making a bad system worse. I hope that when the health care revolution comes, I will be at the policy-wonk barricades fighting for brighter, better-utility future.


Written by James Bailey

June 9, 2008 at 5:27 pm

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