Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Scott Adams's Political Survey of Economists

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the who's-the-fairest-of-them-all dept.

Politics 939

Buffaloaf writes "Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, wanted to have unbiased information about which presidential candidate would be better for the economy, so he financed his own survey of 500 economists. He gives a bit more detail about the results in a CNN editorial, along with disclosure of his own biases and guesses as to the biases of the economists who responded."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

And so comes the question (0)

Leafheart (1120885) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027677)

As to how many of those had point hair.

AAPL sell off !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25027925)

Dump it, dump it, dump it!!

Short it! Short it! Short it!

Re:And so comes the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25028273)

What the hell is wrong with Slashdot?

I go to look at a story with 900 comments and the first eight pages of comments are all the same page!

WTF?

Jungle Jigaboo 08 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25027687)

Linux4ever

Re:Jungle Jigaboo 08 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25027719)

Pardon my ignorance, but what is a " Jigaboo ?"

Re:Jungle Jigaboo 08 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25027805)

barack Obama is one.

Re:Jungle Jigaboo 08 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25027807)

Something to do with not voting for Senator Obama, I think.

Re:Jungle Jigaboo 08 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25027983)

I dunno, but I'd love to jiga Palin's boo

Re:Jungle Jigaboo 08 (4, Informative)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027989)

It's a racist epithet referring to black people.

-jcr

Wait .... (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027715)

Now we actually turn to Scott Adams for actual unbiased information about economics? Or, at least an attempt to explain the biases up-front? That just hurts my head!! :-P

Where's the punch line?

But, seriously, good on Scott Adams for actually doing this on his own. I think had anyone else tried to do this, we'd all be screaming loudly that they were inherently biased and had an agenda.

No matter how it goes, Adams will get more material for the strips. ;-)

Cheers

Re:Wait .... (5, Informative)

Rayeth (1335201) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027791)

its actually surprising how forthcoming he was about his own biases too. A nice change from the majority of statistics that show up on the internets.

Re:Wait .... (5, Insightful)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027859)

Not just forthcoming, but he justifies them nicely [dilbert.com] .

Remember, kids: "The Dilbert Principle" can be both fun and scarily accurate.

Re:Wait .... (1, Interesting)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028081)

I appreciated Mr Adams qualifying his survey with his own leanings, but the bias of the economists makes it very difficult to pull anything useful out of the results.

88% of Democratic economists think Obama would be best, while 80% of Republican economists pick McCain

And, since there were more than 3x as many Democrats in the pool as Republicans, I would assume that many of the "Independents" were also left-leaning. For whatever reason, apparently "economist" is a field that attracts liberals.

On a side note, for those of you that haven't read God's Debris: A Thought Experiment [amazon.com] , it's worth checking out from the library (or dropping the $10 at Amazon) and taking a look at Scott Adams's serious side - Nothing life changing, but occasional moments of insight.

Re:Wait .... (5, Insightful)

KeatonMill (566621) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028233)

Is it perhaps possible that instead of someone's political leanings influencing their career choices, their career choices and accumulated knowledge have influenced their political leanings?

Re:Wait .... (5, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028269)

For whatever reason, apparently "economist" is a field that attracts liberals.

Maybe that's why republicans think you can cut taxes and increase spending and everything will work out okay.

Re:Wait .... (4, Interesting)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027827)

If you're looking for a bit more "punch line", I suggest checking in next week.

From TFA (the 2nd one, Scott's blog):

Some of you will wonder how reliable a bunch of academics are when it comes to answering real life questions about the economy. You might prefer to know what CEOs think. But remember that CEOs are paid to be advocates for their stockholders, not advocates for voters. Asking CEOs what should be done about the economy is like asking criminals for legal advice. More on that this week.

Re:Wait .... (0)

Reziac (43301) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028125)

And when I read that, I had this thought:

Those university-employed economists don't depend on the market for their living; they'll get paid no matter what (barring major downsizing by their parent institution). They're free to back whatever crackpot theories or candidates they wish; it won't impact their income.

However, businessmen only make money when the economy *lets their business make money*. So their motivation, at least if they think long-term, is toward a healthy economy. (Of course short-term profiteering and golden-parachuting tend to have the opposite effect, but we'll assume for this argument that there are more sensible businessmen than profiteers. Business isn't just Fortune 500 companies.)

So then... tell me, which of these has a real stake in how well the economy actually does?? And which of these actually has to live with the consequences??

Re:Wait .... (5, Insightful)

KeatonMill (566621) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028267)

I would agree with you in a general sense -- except that there is such a moral hazard problem with golden parachuting and other moral hazards (see Fannie and Freddie) that any observation of CEO responses is rampant with game theoretic problems.

Simply put, academics are paid to know about the economy. For doctorate level academics, it's not about their own personal stake -- their stake is in being as accurate as possible and knowing as much as they can.

Re:Wait .... (1, Insightful)

LehiNephi (695428) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028287)

"Asking criminals for legal advice"? Oh, come on now!

I think it's important to remember a few things in relation to CEOs vs. Economists. Firstly, Economists are a bit like sportscasters: they can analyze trends and history, speculate and theorize, and give you reports and opinions. But in the end, their opinion doesn't really account for much. As such, there really isn't much accountability. CEOs, on the other hand, are more like coaches. They're a lot more in the trenches and actually make the decisions that carry significant consequences, good or bad. And while their answers will certainly be biased in the direction of their self interests, it's more likely that their self interest coincides with yours/ours.

I seem to remember some pithy quote about academia and "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." While the characterization is not universal, there's a nugget of truth there: most CEOs are there because they're genuinely good at what they do.

Re:Wait .... (5, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027853)

Where's the punch line?

I think the punchline is that the media and the researchers are so compromised that coming to a relatively uncorrupted conclusion now requires significant time and deep pockets.

Re:Wait .... (5, Insightful)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027883)

Well, we turn to cartoonists for actual unbiased information when the press falls down on its job to do the same. This is the same reason that the most trusted face in news these days belongs to a comedian.

What makes me more confident in this than anything I might see on CNN is that a) he plainly states his personal bias and b) he shows his work. Neither happens in the mainstream media.

You get much better information from someone you know is biased than when their bias is hidden, even if your own biases don't match.

Re:Wait .... (4, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028127)

> You get much better information from someone you know is biased than when their bias is hidden, even if your own biases don't match.

Exactly. Which is why the MSM will continue to bleed until one of two things occur:

1. They admit their biases like newspapers of old did. I want to see "Wolf Blitzer (D)" on the screen. Then he would be freed from the transparent lie that he is objective and could get on with it. We as viewers could then accept what he does and where he is coming from when he is 'reporting.'

2. Really become objective. Primetime news with real journalism where you get the who what when why and how without mixing in commentary and bloviating. No talking points, no spin, no talking heads shouting, almost no horserace coverage. Real backgrounders on issues and where candidates have voted in the past, where they stand now and their explanation for any change.

Number two has less odds of occuring than monkeys flying from my butt so if the MSM plans on surviving it is option 1 or bust.

Re:Wait .... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25028255)

So I assume then you want Fox News and "Bill O'Reily (R)" to start doing the same so he also can be freed from the transparent lie that he is objective?

Re:Wait .... (1)

KeatonMill (566621) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028283)

If you liked this, you might like the polls that DailyKos has been running -- they hired a neutral firm (Research 2000) to run polls on the presidential race and individual senate and house races.

Though DailyKos is a left-wing site, they publish all of the internals of the polls so you can see what's going on.

unbiased (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25027931)

Now we actually turn to Scott Adams for actual unbiased information about economics?

I am sure it is just as good as turning to any given economist for unbiased information about economics.

There *might* have been a time, long ago, when technological and cultural change were slow enough that the past ten years of data could reliably be used to make relatively accurate predictions about the next ten years worth of economic trends.

But in today's world, major technological and cultural changes continually happen in less than ten years. By the time you have enough data on which to build any kind of model, it is already outdated. I therefore posit that the discipline of economics is no longer useful (if it ever was) as a predictive tool.

There is just too much data, and too much randomness, for us to say what effect major decisions will actually have.

The majority of economists are Democrats? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25027723)

That's a surprise. Maybe enomomists make less money than I thought.

Re:The majority of economists are Democrats? (2, Insightful)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027795)

there's the catch: the majority of economists are Democrats right now.

Re:The majority of economists are Democrats? (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028223)

"there's the catch: the majority of economists are Democrats right now."

Well, that explains the economy, all right.

Re:The majority of economists are Democrats? (1, Interesting)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027815)

That shouldn't be a surprise. Just about every University only teaches Keynesian Economics which goes well with the Democratic platform.

If Universities instead primarily taught the Austrian School of Economics you'd see more economists being Libertarian or Republican.

Re:The majority of economists are Democrats? (4, Interesting)

VolciMaster (821873) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027919)

Just about every University only teaches Keynesian Economics which goes well with the Democratic platform.

Funny, I had Keynesian Economics taught, and always saw it aligning with Conservatism and Libertarianism more than Liberalism.

Re:The majority of economists are Democrats? (4, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028041)

All universities teach Keynesian economics because it was a leading theory of economics at one time. But monetary policy and supply-side economics are taught as well. That doesn't nearly explain why most economists are Democrats. Since the 1950s, Keynesian economics has fallen out of favor as Monetary Policy under Friedman took a more prominent role. In the 1980s the rage was supply-side (Reaganomics) which most critics dismiss as woefully incomplete. Previous Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has followed a more monetarist view in his tenure as Chairman.

Re:The majority of economists are Democrats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25028079)

There's a reason for that, Austrian economics was not only a very geographically isolated school at its height, but also had huge problems with dynamic economic situations and is a 19th century central-european line of thinking, whereas Keynsian economics is a mid-20th century line of thought which has branched out to many variants today.

Re:The majority of economists are Democrats? (2, Funny)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028135)

Don't kid yourself. The one student of the austrian school of economics I'm aware of is pariah, shunned by both parties for his ridiculous ideas of lower taxes, lower spending, and smaller government.

Re:The majority of economists are Democrats? (5, Insightful)

McBeer (714119) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027839)

That's a surprise. Maybe enomomists make less money than I thought.

or economists have the necessary education to see the big picture and vote for policies that increase the health of the entire economy rather then fatten their personal wallets in the short term.

Enlightened self interest can be a wonderful thing.

Re:The majority of economists are Democrats? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25027843)

They are democrats because they work in academia. E.g. they "study" economics but don't do anything economical.

economically productive people are not "economists", they have other job titles.

Re:The majority of economists are Democrats? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027857)

most of the ones surveyed are ina academia.

Re:The majority of economists are Democrats? (3, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027877)

That was interesting. I wonder if the very profession of Economist presumes a liberal bias. After all, if your ideals about the market are that free trade is good, controls are bad, and that manipulating and putting controls on the market will be harmful, what's the point in becoming an economist in the first place?

I heard a commercial on the radio once from the national association of podiatrists... they said that you should get your feet checked by a professional twice a year. They said that with a straight face. Feet are what they deal with, and it probably seems so important to them to keep your 'feet health' a priority. Similarly, economists probably have to believe that more is going on in the market than Adam Smith's invisible hand, if only to justify their own existence.

Not surprising. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027961)

Economists tend to be academics, and academics tend to be pro-government.

-jcr

Interesting Read (3, Interesting)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027735)

I am always looking for good numbers like this. Personally I have been leaning towards Obama. However it is good to know that people are taking such an interest in this election. With recent events in the market, it is becoming ever more important for us to drop our party biases and really look at taking care of our economy as a whole.

Are there any other stat sites like this out there? When my wife was in High School her poly-sci teacher handed out papers describing the different platforms and the candidates. Then took the students down to get registered. Does anyone do this anymore?

Re:Interesting Read (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027937)

Probably the best take away from this is that while the campaigns scream "Obama would be a DISASTER" or "McCain would be a DISASTER", in truth, both have advantages and faults. It's not a black and white choice, but one of grays. One, of course, may be better, but it isn't so clearcut as man claim.

Re:Interesting Read (5, Funny)

hesiod (111176) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028107)

> It's not a black and white choice, but one of grays

That's right. Some people are trying to make this election revolve around racial issues, when in reality it should be about species. THEY'RE BOTH ALIENS! EVERYBODY PANIC!!!!

Re:Interesting Read (5, Funny)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028259)

Don't blame me. I'm voting for Kodos.

Re:Interesting Read (2, Interesting)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028241)

Both campaigns are right. The next president is a one-termer since the economy is going to completely implode during their term. There's nothing they can do about, being politicians they will both make it worse (in their different ways) but even an economic miracle worker is going to have a collapse of the economy and the end of America's "economic superpower" status on their hands.

Thank you Greenspan, and Bernanke, and Bush, and Clinton. Especially Greenspan and his wonderous put.

Re:Interesting Read (0, Troll)

VolciMaster (821873) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027953)

the real question: does it surprise anyone that if only 27% of the respondents are Republicans that the results would show a bias towards Obama?

Re:Interesting Read (3, Insightful)

Bob Loblaw (545027) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028157)

Another way of looking at it would be: does it surprise anyone that many Republican economists would not want to respond to a survey if the facts don't support their political affiliations?

People don't like to put that kind of cognitive dissonance down on paper even though many people hold beliefs in their heads that don't connect with facts.

Re:Interesting Read (1)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027967)

Well, I strongly suggest you check out ProCon.org [procon.org] for quotes and stances (which summarizes nicely without flipping between candidates' websites directly). Googling for key phrases has served well to get invited OpEd pieces on the matter, although I have yet to find another good statistical summary.

Re:Interesting Read (5, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027969)

How about this (according to Michael Kinsley, Larry Bartels, etc.): Democratic presidents have consistently higher economic growth and consistently lower unemployment than Republican presidents. If you add in a time lag, you get the same result. If you eliminate the best and worst presidents, you get the same result. If you take a look at other economic indicators, you get the same result. There's just no way around it: Democratic administrations are better for the economy than Republican administrations.

Unless you are already independently wealthy, you will do better under a Democratic administration than a Republican one. Plain and simple. And if you are independently wealthy, well then you probably don't really care about a GDP percentage here or there. Bottom line, if you are voting "with your feet" on the economy, a Democratic vote is the clear choice, according to historic performance.

Re:Interesting Read (1)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028215)

Yes, every democratic government since WWII has run tighter budgets than republicans.

Liberalism, apparently means economic conservatism. Conservatism, by contrast, apparently means stealing a billion dollars a day from your kids because you're too cheap to pay for all the services you recieve.

Re:Interesting Read (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028231)

Interesting thing about employment statistics. They only count who are looking for jobs. If you dont have a job, and arent activly looking, then you arent unemployed.

Whats the point of searching for a job with a government so bent backward to fun welfare to the lower classes by taxing the middle class?

Take health care for example. Do you really think that its going to be "free"? No. The wealthy are still going to spend to get their own benifits above the norm. The middle are going to pay for their own low quality care (ever been in a socialist hospital?) The lower are going to have the middle pay for them.

This really is determined by what you mean as a "good" economy. One that lets people who are willing to work make money for themselves? Or one that makes sure that no matter how lazy you are, someone will take care of you. One is called capitalism, the other is called socialism (or communism).

Re:Interesting Read (0, Troll)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028247)

Ummmm....did that study completely gloss over the Carter and Reagan years? Does it take into account that JFK was a tax-cutter and Nixon had little idea on what he was doing economically? I look at history, instead of just numbers, and come up with interesting other conclusions...like how unemployment has been, on average, lower in a Bush Presidency than Clinton's; how we were coming out of a recession the quarter BEFORE Clinton took office, and we were tanking before he left...high debate against such a premise here...

Re:Interesting Read (5, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027979)

One major misconception here is that "economists" necessarily have a useful opinion on "the economy". (Let alone on candidates' positions thereupon.) It's like asking a panel of computer scientists about what relational database to use.

Re:Interesting Read (1)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028139)

PostgreSQL. The rest are for dirty commies.

Re:Interesting Read (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028307)

It's like asking a panel of computer scientists about what relational database to use.

No, it's like asking a panel of computer scientists about what relational database to use versus asking a room full of business majors what relational database to use. Yeah, there will be disagreements, conflicting advice, and no clear consensus. But I'd still rather get an opinion from people who make thier living studying the subject than from random talking heads that the news corps shovel at us everyday.

Re:Interesting Read (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028021)

It's great that people are taking such an interest in this election. Now if only we could get some candidates who are actually worth voting for, we'd be in business!

Re:Interesting Read (1)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028085)

I had 2 teachers who did this in college. One of them would actively obstruct you from registering unless you registered Socialist. What a fucking prick. True story, at UVM. I wont name the professor (but I will say he was tenured there) because it's too petty but I didn't hold the same beliefs as him and now I am forever soured, not only against him but against what he stood for as well.

Wow (5, Insightful)

Cryophallion (1129715) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027763)

That has to be one of the most thoroughly explained and analyzed surveys I've seen in a long time. The fact that he analyzed the leanings of the respondents and took that into account was really well done.

Now, can we also ask them who is really responsible for the current bank crisis (whether profit hungry execs, slimy people luring people into bad mortgages, people flipping houses and then wanting a bailout when burned, government policy...)?

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027977)

Now, can we also ask them who is really responsible for the current bank crisis [...] ?

All of the above.

Re:Wow (1)

indytx (825419) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028083)

Now, can we also ask them who is really responsible for the current bank crisis (whether profit hungry execs, slimy people luring people into bad mortgages, people flipping houses and then wanting a bailout when burned, government policy...)?

All of the above. There's plenty of blame to go around, so we should just blame everyone and move on. Why waste the money on studies or commissions when the real culprit is human nature's nasty embrace of greed and shortsightedness?

Re:Wow (2, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028147)

who is really responsible for the current bank crisis (whether profit hungry execs, slimy people luring people into bad mortgages, people flipping houses and then wanting a bailout when burned, government policy...)?

Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. And probably a dozen other reasons as well.

Of course, a lot of the people flipping housing couldn't have done it without an easy to get loan. The people giving out bad loans wouldn't have done so without the support of profit hungry execs. The profit hungry execs never would have been able to allow the bad loans without the deregulation of the industry (something both right and left politicians have had a hand in at one time or another over the past 15 years). In theory, this could have been avoided at any point in the chain, in reality it was inevitable anyway.

Our housing market was unsustainable, the definition of a bubble economy. The value of homes was going up solely because people expected the value of homes to go up (i.e. 'this house is a bit more expensive than we can afford, but in a few years we can sell or refinance and everything will be fine'). To make matters worse, the construction industry in the US was way, way, way, overgrown. To the point that there would be more houses in the US than people by 2050 if the construction rate had stayed the same.

Simple (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028151)

The rules that were put in place after the Great Depression were undone by Phil Gram (remember the "nation of whiners" guy?) and a corporate friendly congress. Surprise surprise, they turned the newly freed and unwatched credit market into a ten trillion dollar casino, and now the American tax payer will have to bail them out.

The next time anyone pushes for privatization, remember what they really want is to use taxpayer money for private benefit. Our answer should be no; corporate culture has proved time and time again that they are incapable of handling their own business. The free market works only when it is well regulated and continually redistributes wealth from richest to poorest.

The free market for me, and a great majority of society if you avoid tainted language, means that society benefits from the sharing of a strong infrastructure and equal access to health, education, and national resources. The "free market" as defined today means welfare for corporations, and an admonishment to "chin up" and "lift yourself up by your own bootstraps" if you're an individual.

Re:Wow (3, Interesting)

jnaujok (804613) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028173)

Take some time and learn about Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac and who ran the "corporation" since 2000. Add to that, researching the 2005 bill that forced FM/FM to give out loans based on racial profiles instead of financial stability, and you'll have a good idea who to blame.

Who was in charge of Fannie Mae when they "misreported" $10.8 billion in 2006? Washington Times [washtimes.com]

For those too lazy to find out, consider that Obama, despite being in the Senate for only 2 years, is the #1 recipient of donations from FM/FM at $112,000. (McCain has also taken $16,000, Joe Biden also got $500.)

"Fannie Mae Chairman Franklin Raines last week called for continued efforts by Fannie Mae and mortgage lenders to reach out to those 'at the margins' of home ownership. Blacks, Hispanics and immigrants trying to buy homes would be a major focus of outreach, Raines said." Raines made no mention of assistance for the millions of white families who have difficulty purchasing homes.

And who is Franklin Raines? Why, Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget under Bill Clinton. (He was the chairman of the same department under Jimmy Carter.) He's currently under investigation by several different groups, including the SEC, the OFHEO [ofheo.gov] , and others.

Re:Wow (2, Interesting)

spicate (667270) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028219)

I know it's encouraging that someone is trying to get 'unbiased' information about expert opinion on the candidates, and, as an Obama supporter, I would like to put some faith in this survey.

That said, I wouldn't put a lot of stock in this survey.

Unfortunately, the terrible response rate (about 8%) means that there is huge probability of non-response bias. In other words, we're probably not getting a representative group of economists. It may very well be that mostly pro-Obama supporters felt like responding (perhaps out of a sense of a need to defend his economic policies).

Additionally, there is no testing for statistical inference. For example, in the PowerPoint, there's a question of who has provided more advice to candidates (Democrats or Republicans). The authors make it sound as if the Republicans did, but the difference is almost certainly within the margin of error.

Finally, there's this common misconception that things are either "good for the economy" or "bad for the economy." In reality, there's more than one way of thinking about the economy as a whole. For example, some think of it merely in terms of GDP, while others consider the distribution of wealth as well. It's not clear from the survey what was meant, exactly, by "the economy."

Re:Wow (1)

mdalal97 (256621) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028253)

Now, can we also ask them who is really responsible for the current bank crisis (whether profit hungry execs, slimy people luring people into bad mortgages, people flipping houses and then wanting a bailout when burned, government policy...)?

What about the moral hazard dilemma caused by the bail out of Long Term Capital Management? That failure was strikingly similar to today's financial melt down: Lots of derivatives and leveraging. Looks like no one learned their lesson from a decade ago... and why should they? The government will bail them out. At least Lehman Brothers wasn't bailed out.

To simplify things:
I think the problem can be traced back to the Fed's low interest rate policy. Low interest rates (i.e. cheap money) essentially mean the US was flooding the economy/world with dollars. This leads to a debasing of the US currency, i.e. a declining value of the dollar. The short-term side-effect was a massive increase in the amount of money available for investment. Since the stock market was week in the early part of this decade, it went into housing. I.e., speculation just like the Internet bubble. The problem is that this bubble has serious affects on more than just people's 401k. Inflation is caused by a weak dollar. Luckily for the US, the dollar is still a reserve currency, so many countries were buying US bonds, supporting Mae and Mac, etc., and kept the US afloat. Unfortunately for other countries, they now have inflation, in part caused by investing heavily in the US dollar (bonds), and heavily loses on their US investments.

It is time for us to live within our means, governments and individuals alike. I'll stop my rant now. Funny how everything is interconnected.

inconclusive (1, Insightful)

dunnius (1298159) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027785)

I RTFA since the summary is not very good, but I don't see any conclusive results as to who would be better with the imbalanced sample pool. It is very difficult to predict how the candidates will act once in power. I didn't expect that Bush would ignore the Constitution as bad as he did once he got in power, so we are still open to surprises for either candidate.

Re:inconclusive (3, Interesting)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027887)

It's not exactly inconclusive either. Obama was granted higher marks on everything except international trade which is not surprising, but still dramatically skews the results due to that issue's importance to the economy overall. One could argue that international trade has the lion's share of effect on the gdp, but I'm not convinced the economists were taking into account exports.

Obama's platform for international trade is to import less and export more. I would say that's effectively going to bolster our economy by boosting our gdp in the long run. But can he actually pull it off? The desired effect could take a few years to reach our gdp.

Re:inconclusive (1)

dunnius (1298159) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028017)

As I mentioned, the sample pool was biased so it is difficult to make anything of the results. It would be nice to have a survey with a better sample pool.

Re:inconclusive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25028053)

I think thats the point. There is no conclusive results, ever. Surveys will never show conclusive results, if you are looking for a definitive point to argue against, he says that there isn't one.

It is useful information however, even with the (exposed) biases shown in the article weighing the information. How I will process the information is different than how you (and everyone else) will process it, but we'll put it in our group of predicates that eventually lead to our firm choice we make in november.

Re:inconclusive (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028065)

Of course it's inconclusive. You can hardly have a conclusive survey about which candidate is better when they aren't really all that different.

How many are longtime party-members? (5, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027797)

My initial reaction was: There's far more Democratic economists than Republican ones. Perhaps their Democratic bias is because of their evaluation of who's better for the economy, and not the other way around?

I think probably the easiest way to prove this would be to show not just independents, but those who have switched from Republican to Democrat, or vice versa. Someone who's been Democratic for 50 years isn't likely to change their mind, and that could influence the economic evaluation.

However, someone who tends to think independently, even if they actually register with one party or another -- that is, someone who was recently the other party -- might provide a better indicator.

Then again, it's still impossible to tell. Maybe, long-term, Democrats have been better for the economy, and thus, economists tend to be long-time Democrats?

Re:How many are longtime party-members? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25028033)

There's far more Democratic economists than Republican ones.

Democrats like to sit in ivory towers and point fingers. Republicans, for good or ill, drive the economy.

Re:How many are longtime party-members? (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028055)

In terms of deficit, which economists tend to care about, the Republicans pretty much have been a complete disaster for the last thirty years. I think the last Republican president who didn't increase the deficit over his predecessor was Ford.

Unfortunately they really seem to have lost their way from the fiscally responsible party they were decades ago.

Re:How many are longtime party-members? (2, Informative)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028201)

Unfortunately they really seem to have lost their way from the fiscally responsible party they were decades ago.

And not only that, they are now working with a legislature that is entirely run by Democrats. You know, the legislature that is the only body that can appropriate funds and vote on a budget? It doesn't matter who is in the White House, since all that person can do is propose a budget. Congress then has at it, and either writes their own, or modifies it. They say how much is spent, and they say how much is raised, and who is taxed to get it.

Accountants (1)

Veetox (931340) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027821)

I think it would have been better to fund a survey of 500 accountants. Economists are theorists, but accountants deal with hard data every day. It's like faith vs. science. ...IMHO

Re:Accountants (3, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027959)

I think it would have been better to fund a survey of 500 accountants. Economists are theorists, but accountants deal with hard data every day. It's like faith vs. science.

That's like saying you should ask burger flippers at McDonalds what the long-term growth strategy for the company should be.

Economics is fundamentally different from accounting, they are barely even related fields.

Re:Accountants (1)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028101)

But the accountants have no hard data to work on yet, as neither candidate are in office.
So theorizing and 'what-if'-questions are essential here.

Ok, someone had to say it... (1)

Pat Attack (1353585) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027849)

Catbert, Evil Director of Human Resoruces, for President!

Conclusion: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25027867)

High correlation between party affiliation and presidential preference. Independents split. In other words, "economists" aren't any better as a source of objective analysis then other mortals. Like you, "economists" are convinced they're preference is right and interpret reality to fit their certainty.

How about the debt? (1)

jwiegley (520444) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027875)

I find it disturbing that, in the rankings of economic issues, reducing the national debt wasn't even mentioned.

But it certainly doesn't surprise me. We are a nation of debt loving, got to have it now, give me, giveme, gimme idiots

Re:How about the debt? (1)

daveywest (937112) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027991)

Sounds like you didn't read the presentation. Slide 30 notes the deficit (big fancy word for debt) is one of 20 issues the economists were asked to rank.

Not Reassuring at All... (1, Insightful)

imstanny (722685) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027943)

The results demonstrate that democratic economists lean left and republicans lean right. Economics ought to be unbaised. The fact that it is baised indicatse that economists can't be trusted to understand economic issues objectively.

Re:Not Reassuring at All... (1)

symes (835608) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028145)

The results demonstrate that democratic economists lean left and republicans lean right. Economics ought to be unbaised. The fact that it is baised indicatse that economists can't be trusted to understand economic issues objectively.

"economists can't be trusted to understand economic issues objectively" how about "neuroscientists can't be trusted to understand brain issues objectively". who should be trusted? we'll need legislation in some places so the market is out... politicians feather their beds... I think that, at least for academic economists, the process of peer review and (usually) open scrutiny means that most (not all) are the best we have. At the end of the day an economists whose empirical models are are accurate will do far better than an one whose favoured political party is in power.

Re:Not Reassuring at All... (4, Insightful)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028249)

But, assuming that Adams was unbiased in his selection of samples (I haven't read TFA), we can conclude that there are more democratic economists than republican. Maybe that alone tells us something about who's better at running the economy.

Re:Not Reassuring at All... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25028315)

Dude, the first thing they teach you in Econ 101 is that economics includes Normative Economics [wikipedia.org] (ie "what we ought to do"), which is a perfectly valid field, since economics involves theories and experiments like any other scientific field, and those theories and experiments by definition are political, since they affect people.

Obama favored, 59-31% (5, Interesting)

jamie (78724) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027955)

The plain fact is that the economists surveyed think Obama would be better for the economy, by almost two-to-one. It's kind of sad how Adams had to dress the fact up by noting how many were Democrats vs. Republicans, essentially declaring it a tie:

...not surprisingly, 88% of Democratic economists think Obama would be best, while 80% of Republican economists pick McCain. ...

The economists in our survey favor Obama on 11 of the top 13 issues. But keep in mind that 48 percent are Democrats and only 17 percent are Republicans.

Despite his own strong evidence that the economists were being objective -- their own income levels did not correlate to whether they thought the rich should be taxed -- he doesn't even tell us the plain fact until after he dresses it up.

His CNN writeup was an excuse to repeat three times that he would have his taxes raised by Obama. Well yeah, he makes zillions of dollars. No mention of Obama's plan to cut taxes, for almost everyone, by more than McCain's plan.

I look forward to his next survey of economists, in which he asks which is better economically, capitalism or communism, and then weights the results before revealing them. ("Not surprisingly, 88% of market-favoring economists think capitalism would be best, while 80% of socialist economists pick communism. Our economists favor capitalism on 11 of the top 13 issues, but keep in mind that" etc.)

Re:Obama favored, 59-31% (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028039)

His CNN writeup was an excuse to repeat three times that he would have his taxes raised by Obama.

Of course, neither Obama nor McCain can raise taxes. That's a congressional power, not an executive power. Frankly, I'm hoping that someone will confront both candidates about why they believe that as president, they will have powers that the constitution clearly places with the congress. Obama's a law professor, who should sure as hell know this.

-jcr

Neither (5, Insightful)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027965)

Both wish for more government manipulation of the economy. Obama would like absolute government control of services arbitrarily deemed as necessary (in order to buy votes). McCain, under the guise of "free market", offers false choices under a government-controlled system. McCain wants you to believe that you can have the benefits of a free market through government regulation - that, somehow, socialism with (forced) choices will not fail. All they're saying is, "pick your poison - and there's no option not to be poisoned."

All you have left is to determine which system will lead to a faster or slower death, and decide which death is more preferable.

Re:Neither (5, Insightful)

WankersRevenge (452399) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028221)

Reminds of that old joke ... In capitalism, man exploits man. In communism, it's just the other way around.

Worthless (-1, Troll)

Cartan (452962) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027975)

They must be counting all the Marxism departments as Economics departments. It is evidently useless to ask economists anything as if they were a homogenous group.

Scott Adams' Blog (3, Interesting)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027985)

From time to time, Scott will do something interesting and write it up on his blog. I subscribed to his blog for a while, but I ended up unsubscribing because of the over-the-top sarcasm and overall negative tone. It just didn't feel healthy to *read* it.

The fact that Adams has attached himself to a medium through which he distributes mockery as social commentary is really not surprising to me at all. I know smart people who are trying to make the world a better place by making positive things happen, so it frustrates me that Adams won't just drop all the grudges and stop acting so defensively. We need more smart people on the offense, starting awesome new projects and using their creativity to lift people up.

Tax bracket (5, Interesting)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#25027993)

From the CNN article:

Moneywise, I can't support a candidate who promises to tax the bejeezus out of my bracket, ...

Then maybe you are in the wrong tax bracket. Try being in mine for a while. I think most people would prefer to be in a tax bracket that gets taxed like that and keep the rest, rather than where they are now.

Market prediction would have been better (1)

Jodka (520060) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028003)

This kind of survey is a horrible predictor of actual outcomes because it confounds the political biases of the respondents with their expectations.

There is a good way to tease those motives apart and force respondents into the domain of prediction: grant financial rewards and penalties according to the accuracy of predictions. When there is reward or penalty for getting the answer wrong or right people are more inclined to tell you what they expect to happen than what they want to happen. That is why markets, such as the IEM [uiowa.edu] outperform surveys

Who was it that said it would be better "if the (1)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028037)

first 1000 people out of any phone book ran the country?" (paraphrasing) Although I imagine it was just a joke at a time, I am starting to believe more and more that it is true. It seems the problem of money and the unbelievable hassle of being vetted by the public simply drives away potentially excellent people from politics. Who wants your their life's history picked apart and every uncle, cousin, etc suddenly barraged by reporters to reveal everything about you that is really no one else's business?

Then where is the money going to come from? Well let see: one could align themselves with the MPAA, the RIAA, oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, and probably bring home suitcases full of cash as well as get their campaign funded.

Re:Who was it that said it would be better "if the (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028305)

Actually, that quote had a particular context to it, relating to the Harvard faculty rather than the elected Congress. And the number in the quote gets changed a lot and I'm not even sure I have the right one. "I'd rather be governed by the first 2000 names in the Boston phone book than by the dons of Harvard." --William F. Buckley, Jr.

ack (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028043)

killing my bad moderations...it's too easy to click the wrong button....

Subjective results (2, Insightful)

steveha (103154) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028051)

I think it's really cool that Scott Adams paid for this survey. And I was impressed by his analysis of the results. But I am not sure how much value there is in the result.

Democrat economists favored Obama (88%!). Republican economists favored McCain (80%!). Independents (who, as Scott Adams pointed out, are mostly in academia) favored Obama (just barely: 46% Obama to 39% McCain). Not really earthshaking results nor unexpected. Maybe he should ask for his money back.

Really, the biggest surprise to me is how solidly the recommendations aligned with the political party of the recommending economist. It makes me wonder whether economics is really that subjective, or whether ideology is trumping objectivity here.

I was amused that Scott Adams described himself as "Libertarian, minus the crazy stuff". I could say the same. My own recommendation: vote for gridlock. Since Congress is in the hands of the Democrats, vote for the Republican candidate, just to put some quicksand under the wheels of big government.

My favorite quote:

Moneywise, I can't support a candidate who promises to tax the bejeezus out of my bracket, give the windfall to a bunch of clowns with a 14 percent approval rating (Congress), and hope they spend it wisely.

Unfortunately, the alternative to the guy who promises to pillage my wallet is a lukewarm cadaver. I'm in trouble either way.

Heh. Scott Adams is a comedic genius. Actually, I think we can shorten that to: Scott Adams is a genius.

steveha

He needs to redo the survey with Palin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25028095)

Since actuarial tables suggest that John McCain has between a ~15% chance of dying in his first term, Scott Adams should see how Palin fares.

And the end result is... no result (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028203)

Having read (okay, skimmed) the article...

Economists who call themselves "independent" are said to "lean towards Obama", but looking at the sample size I think you'd have to be biased to actually see that as significant - that one's a statistical dead heat.

Add that to Tastycrats favoring Obama, and Fingerlicans favoring McCain, and you're really no more informed than you were before you read the article.

However I do think it's pretty cool that Scott Adams put this together himself.

No surprises (3, Informative)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028225)

Wow, the economists have joined the parties that they think are best for the economy. Shocking.

Not even this is surprising:

Moving along, we asked the economists which candidate they thought would do the best job on the most important issues. For me, the surprise is how many economists say there would be no difference.

In January 2009, the total national debt will be the same, regardless of whoever is going to become president. This is a massive drag on the economy.

Furthermore, this is just a president, not a central committee chairman. The president obviously has some power, but he's definitely in second place. The part of government that has the most influence over the economy (congress), isn't getting nearly as much media coverage for their elections, as the president is. The next truly economy-related election is in two years, not in two months.

I have lost my faith in Economists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25028257)

Anyone who says that we should increase someone's taxes by 30% of their gross (to roughly 60%) when they're just breaking the million-dollar income barrier during a credit crunch is GOOD for innovation and technology is just... just... I don't know what to say.... I NEED TO HIT SOMETHING!

Adams on CEO (2, Insightful)

Jodka (520060) | more than 6 years ago | (#25028301)

The Scott Adams commentary contained this provocative remark:

Some of you will wonder how reliable a bunch of academics are when it comes to answering real life questions about the economy. You might prefer to know what CEOs think. But remember that CEOs are paid to be advocates for their stockholders, not advocates for voters. Asking CEOs what should be done about the economy is like asking criminals for legal advice.

Presumably criminals stand to benefit by giving others bad legal advice, and as criminals they could not be trusted to forgo personal gain for the principle of honesty. Likewise, CEOs stand to benefit by harming the economy and could not be trusted to forgo personal gain for the sake of improving the economic welfare of the nation.

Do CEOs benefit from a bad economy? "Yay! business is looking up because the economy is failing!". It is a more daft than deft analogy.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?