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Understanding Housing: Musings On The Dismal Science

With so much housing market analysis done by so many economists – often negative in both good times and bad (no wonder economics is called the dismal science), sometimes its a good idea to wonder about how economists think. Well, kind of.

As an economist once told me:

Economists always need something to worry about.

Here’s a little humor about the dismal science [1]:
* The First Law of Economists: For every economist, there exists an equal and opposite economist.
* The Second Law of Economists: They’re both wrong.

There’s also an hilarious (to me anyway) paper at the Economists Voice that asks the question: Are Economists Smarter? [pdf/registration] [2] Laurence Kotlikoff presents a humorous take on Lawrence Summers’ alleged suggestion that economists are smarter than sociologists.

For something a little more serious:

There was an excellent post in Market Power called How Economists Think [3]. It discusses the difference between city planners/architects and economists.

Architects and city planners tend to be idealistic about the city; they’re trying to understand what the city should be rather than what it is. And once they intellectually discover what they think it should be, they want to convince the rest of us that that’s a good idea.

Economists, of course, are very different; they’re just trying to understand the city.