Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Best Place to Learn Economics

According to Tyler Cowen, it's right here. He says (it's an interview with Bloomberg's Tom Keene) that right now blogs are the best place to learn economics.

Probably not if your goal is to pass the exam.

But it's an interesting thought. He is implying that it's more worthwhile to drop in on a conversation among economists than to work through a textbook.

I think of an analogy with Yoga. For a lot of people, Yoga is a class in stretching. But people who are really into it see it as a spiritual endeavor or a path to higher consciousness. (I should hasten to add that I have no first-hand experience with Yoga.)

Tyler is a real Yogi when it comes to economics. People who are looking for a guru can sit at his feet (i.e., read his blog or his new book) and gain wisdom. But I wonder what the reaction to economics blogs would be for a student who is the equivalent of someone who goes to Yoga class just to learn a few stretching exercises.

For those of you who have been following the back-and-forth about social cohesion, Tyler explains more of his thinking in the interview. He says that if people within an organization (such as a firm or a government agency) are motivated solely by money, they will act in dysfunctional ways. I strongly agree. You need to have team pride and ethical norms going for you, or else the costs of managing the organization will approach infinity.

The interview really zips along. I'm presuming that Tyler got all the questions in advance, composed his answers, and then read them.

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