Recently I came across an interesting article in which the author takes heavily on all the proclaimed economists of the world. He laments their overdose of advise precisely after everything is over. Like one economist himself wrote "Everything in retrospect is obvious. But if everything were obvious, authors of financial debacles would have been millionaires." Such are the caprices of the field, that the best minds fail to realize whats coming. In the words of some of LSE economists "It was the failure of the collective Intelligence ...", to the question posed by the queen on why none of them(the best minds in the field) could predict the economic crisis which overtook the world.
Economics is a brilliant field. One which closely tracks our everyday living. But alas, it is made so complex with a myriad of numbers that the common man simply cannot seem to decipher the science. I have always been dumbstruck by the variety of figures that keeps coming every now and then. Whether Inflation or Interest rate, the CRR or reverse repo, Its all like a fancy theoretical figure. Sometimes, it is simply difficult to comprehend the underlying meaning. I am no economic major, but I like to know what all these figures talking about my day to day dealings are. I do try reading articles, but most of them make it seem so complicated.
Then I came across some very interesting literature - the types of freakonomics - where the authors Lewitt nd Dubner, who call themselves as rogue economist and who admit very honestly that they can tell you nothing about stock market movements or profit margins, but that they can tell you stories; they analyze numbers and give you some very interesting conclusions. And they make economics seem so relevant that you can relate to the field. The amusing anecdotes coupled with their witty style of writing gives you a rare pleasure. So when you read about crime rates and the relation it has with one lady who fought it out for abortion rights, or how the grading system makes the teachers corrupted, or how the whole system of Sumo wrestling makes it so vulnerable to bribing, you gain a whole new range of insights. In their more recent sequel, superfreakonomics they bring on the same style to even more interesting themes.
One which will surely bowl you out is how television and more importantly soap operas transformed the lives of Indian women,empowering them much better than any other goodwill initiatives ever taken in this direction. Yet another equally unbelievable story is about the greatest threat Industrialization brought about in New York city - horse shit. Oh yes, turns out the modern automobile was an innovative improvisation to address the grave concern caused by the enormous equine problem. :D
The killer of all the story is that of global warming. With all the gung-ho made out in the run to copenhagen, one can be forgiven to think of doomsday to dawn upon us very soon with our current carbon emissions. They give you some juicy figures and turn the whole argument upside down. Of course this is not to say that there is no cause for concern, but only that there's a whole lot to the story than the Inconvenient truth that Al gore wants us to know.
The authors go into some radical experimentation mode too and in the process, among other things, helps us understand the altruistic nature of human behavior. They show you a whole new world of behavioral economics and in the process bring out the fundamental trait of every homo sapien - they respond to incentives. Incentives govern human behavior. Now incentives could be very different. For some it could be money, for others social stigma. But in this rests the universal solution to every existing human problem. They get underneath every imaginable problems and explains it with a whole new dimension. Whether its with cold blooded murder, or raw prostitution, we are governed by the incentive system. Any policy decision of any body, government or otherwise is made keeping in mind the incentive system. Given the right incentives, human behavior can drastically change. They even extend their games to our closest resembling species - the monkeys, and find to their amazement, that much like us, even monkeys are governed by incentives and motivated primarily by food and sex. :D
Well, I thoroughly enjoy reading this sort of economics. One which is simple, lucid and understandable for a common man like me. Most importantly, one which we can relate to.
If only we had more economist to bring out such interesting stories rather than cry foul over some undecipherable data!!!