We are going through a challenging economic climate right now. Ever notice how many “economists” are out there?
What is an economist? (Besides someone who studies the economy).
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook economists:
“study how society distributes scarce resources such as land, labor, raw materials, and machinery to produce goods and services. They conduct research, collect and analyze data, monitor economic trends, and develop forecasts. They research issues such as energy costs, inflation, interest rates, exchange rates, business cycles, taxes, or employment levels.”
An economist friend once told me that “economists are paid to worry.” There’s that old joke: “if you put a group of economists in the same room, not only can they not agree on where the economy is going, they can’t agree on where it came from.” and of course, “economics is the only field in which two people can share a Nobel Prize for saying opposing things.” For such a serious profession, there sure are a lot of economist joke sites on the web.
But I digress…
The BLS definition is all well and good for government and academia, but what about trade groups and corporations that have economists and chief economists? Where there are profits and influence, there may be a credibility problem. Many are using the title “Chief Economist” in the real estate economy these days, including appraisers, brokers, analysts and others.
Wall Street has been using this title for years. I never really thought about the potential conflicts until now, since I see economists as a profession of independent critical analysis, but perhaps thats just the idealist in me.
Although, I’m concerned, I’m not angry. I’ll leave that to one of my favorite blogs, The Angry Economist.