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Message subject : Jokes about economists and economics

This message was posted by . on June 26, 2000 :

Heard at the Wharton School.

Man walking along a road in the countryside
comes across a shepherd and a huge flock of sheep. Tells the shepherd,
"I will bet you $100 against one of your sheep that I can tell you the
exact number in this flock." The shepherd thinks it over; it's a big flock
so he takes the bet. "973," says the man. The shepherd is astonished, because
that is exactly right. Says "OK, I'm a man of my word, take an animal."
Man picks one up and begins to walk away.

"Wait," cries the shepherd, "Let
me have a chance to get even. Double or nothing that I can guess your exact
occupation." Man says sure. "You are an economist for a government think
tank," says the shepherd. "Amazing!" responds the man, "You are exactly
right! But tell me, how did you deduce that?"

"Well," says the shepherd, "put down
my dog and I will tell you."

A mathematician, an accountant and
an economist apply for the same job.

The interviewer calls in the mathematician
and asks "What do two plus two equal?" The mathematician replies "Four."
The interviewer asks "Four, exactly?" The mathematician looks at the interviewer
incredulously and says "Yes, four, exactly."

Then the interviewer calls in the
accountant and asks the same question "What do two plus two equal?" The
accountant says "On average, four - give or take ten percent, but on average,

Then the interviewer calls in the
economist and poses the same question "What do two plus two equal?" The
economist gets up, locks the door, closes the shade, sits down next to
the interviewer and says "What do you want it to equal?" 


1. Economists are armed and dangerous:
"Watch out for our invisible hands."

2. Economists can supply it on demand.

3. You can talk about money without
every having to make any.

4. You get to say "trickle down"
with a straight face.

5. Mick Jagger and Arnold Schwarzenegger
both studied economics and look how they turned out.

6. When you are in the unemployment
line, at least you will know why you are there.

7. If you rearrange the letters
in "ECONOMICS", you get "COMIC NOSE".

8. Although ethics teaches that
virtue is its own reward, in economics we get taught that reward is its
own virtue.

9. When you get drunk, you can tell
everyone that you are just researching the law of diminishing marginal

10. When you call 1-900-LUV-ECON
and get Kandi Keynes, you will have something to talk about.

ECONOMISTS do it at bliss point

ECONOMISTS do it cyclically

ECONOMISTS do it in an Edgeworth

ECONOMISTS do it on demand

ECONOMISTS do it risk-free (in reference
to the risk-free interest rate)

ECONOMISTS do it with a dual

ECONOMISTS do it with an atomistic

ECONOMISTS do it with crystal balls

ECONOMISTS do it with interest

"Economists do it with models"

Heard at the LSE. 

Econometricians do it if they can identify it.

Applied econometricians do it even
if they can't. 

Economists do it with Slutsky matrices. 

Economists do it discretely AND continuously. 

Economists do it on Leontief's table.

Heard at the Bocconi university
in Milan. 

"Econometricians do it with dummies"? 

Morry Adelman at MIT claims that he heard this at Shell long ago:

"A planner is a gentle man,

with neither sword nor pistol.

He walks along most daintily,

because his balls are crystal."

 Mike Lynch, MIT 

An economist is a trained professional paid to guess wrong about the
economy. An econometrician is a trained professional paid to use computers
to guess wrong about the economy.

Talk is cheap. Supply exceeds Demand. 

Bentley's second Law of Economics: The only thing more dangerous than
an economist is an amateur economist!

Berta's Fundamental Law of Economic
Rents.. "The only thing more dangerous than an amateur economist is a professional

A true story:

"I heard this from one of my professors.
To protect him, no names will be revealed. This professor was about to
get married. He went to the jewelers to get a wedding ring for his fiancee.
The jeweler told him that he can have the inside of the ring engraved with
the name of his fiancee for an additional $20 (remember, this was a LONG
time ago). He said, "But that will reduce the resale value!" The jeweler
was aghast. He said, "How can you say such a thing. You are a butcher!"
"No," replied the professor, "I am an economist"."

told by Tapen Sinha, PhD

An economic forecaster was known
to have an horseshoe prominently displayed above the door frame of his
office. Asked what it was for, he replied that it was a good luck charm
that helped his forecasts. But do you believe in that superstition? he
was asked, and he said, "Of course not!" But then why do you keep it? "Well,"
he said, "it works whether you believe in it or not."

 The story is actually told
about a non-economist, Danish Nobel prize winner Niels Bohr.

Since the publication of the joke
I've been told that Bohr actually said that *he had been told* that it
works whether... 

Economics has gotten so rigorous we've all got rigor mortis.

Presumably said by Kenneth Boulding

 A possible correction by Mike:
Kenneth Boulding said, "Mathematics brought rigor to Economics. Unfortunately,
it also brought mortis." 

Economist related joke: Definition: Policy Analyst is someone unethical
enough to be a lawyer, impractical enough to be a theologian, and pedantic
enough to be an economist. 

There is one joke opportunity in Robert Kuttner, The Poverty of Economics,
The Atlantic Monthly, Feb 1985, p. 79, which says: "George Stigler Nobel
laureate and a leader of Chicago School was asked why there were no Nobel
Prizes awarded in the other social sciences, sociology, psychology, history,
etc. "Don't worry", Stigler said, "they have already have a Nobel Prize
in ...Literature" 

An economist was standing at the shore of a large lake, surf-casting.
It was the middle of winter, and the lake was completely frozen over, but
this didn't seem to bother the economist, who stood there patiently casting
his lure out across the ice, slowly reeling it in again, then repeating
the process.

 A mathematical economist came
sailing by on an ice boat, and pulled to the shore beside the surf-fishing
economist to scoff. "You'll never catch any fish that way," said the mathematical
economist. "Jump on my ice-boat and we'll go trawling." 

Three econometricians went out hunting, and came across a large deer.
The first econometrician fired, but missed, by a meter to the left. The
second econometrician fired, but also missed, by a meter to the right.
The third econometrician didn't fire, but shouted in triumph, "We got it!
We got it!" 

A mathematician, a theoretical economist and an econometrician are
asked to find a black cat (who doesn't really exist) in a closed room with
the lights off:

- The mathematician gets crazy trying
to find a black cat that doesn't exist inside the darkened room and ends
up in a psychiatric hospital.

- The theoretical economist is unable
to catch the black cat that doesn't exist inside the darkened room, but
exits the room proudly proclaiming that he can construct a model to describe
all his movements with extreme accuracy.

- The econometrician walks securely
into the darkened room, spend one hour looking for the black cat that doesn't
exits and shouts from inside the room that he has it catched by the neck." 

True story. I'm riding up the elevator at the Boston ASSA meetings
a few years back. In the car with me is a woman who works in the hotel.
I ask her if economists are really as dull a bunch as they're made out
to be. She responds that she used to be stationed at the NYC branch of
the chain when the meetings were held there and that even the hookers had
taken the week off.

Carlos Bonilla 

Practice economy at any cost. 

from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams, Chapter

Arthur awoke to the sound of argument
and went to the bridge. Ford was waving his arms about. "You're crazy Zaphod,"
he was saying, "Magrathea is a myth a fairy story, it's what parents tell
their kids about at night if they want them to grow up to be economists,

from the preface to Paul Krugman's book, "Peddling Prosperity: Economic
Sense and Nonsense in the Age of Diminished Expectations" (1994, page xi):
An Indian-born economist once explained his personal theory of reincarnation
to his graduate economics class. "If you are a good economist, a virtuous
economist," he said, "you are reborn as a physicist. But if you are an
evil, wicked economist, you are reborn as a sociologist." 

When two economists are out for a stroll together, how do you identify
the UofC economist? He's the one walking randomly. 

Heard at the workshop of evolutionary economists at IIASA:

 Q: How has French revolution
affected world economic growth?

A: Too early to say. 

True story: I was standing with Ken Arrow by a bank of elevators on
the ground floor of William James Hall at Harvard. Three elevators passed
us on our way to the basement. I foolishly said "I wonder why everybody
in the basement wants to go upstairs." He responded, almost instantly:
"You're confusing supply with demand."

Curt Monash 

Economist poem

If you do some acrobatics

with a little mathematics

it will take you far along.

If your idea's not defensible

don't make it comprehensible

or folks will find you out,

and your work will draw attention

if you only fail to mention

what the whole thing is about.

Your must talk of GNP

and of elasticity

of rates of substitution

and undeterminate solution

and oligonopopsony.

 Kenneth E. BOULDING 

Q. What do economists and computers have in common ??

A. You need to punch information
into both of them. 

Why does Treasury only have 10 minutes for morning tea ??

A. If they had any longer, they
would need to re-train all the economists. 

Two economists were walking down the street when they noticed two women
yelling across the street at each other from their apartment windows.

Of course they will never come to
agreement, stated the first economist.

And why is that, inquired his companion,

Why, of course, because they are
arguing from different premises. 

Here's couple of more general jokes.

A civil engineer, a chemist and an
economist are traveling in the countryside. Weary, they stop at a small
country inn. "I only have two rooms, so one of you will have to sleep in
the barn," the innkeeper says. The civil engineer volunteers to sleep in
the barn, goes outside, and the others go to bed. In a short time they're
awakened by a knock. It's the engineer, who says, "There's a cow in that
barn. I'm a Hindu, and it would offend my beliefs to sleep next to a sacred
animal." The chemist says that, OK, he'll sleep in the barn. The others
go back to bed, but soon are awakened by another knock. It's the chemist
who says, "There's a pig in that barn. I'm Jewish, and cannot sleep next
to an unclean animal." So the economist is sent to the barn. It's getting
late, the others are very tired and soon fall asleep. But they're awakened
by an even louder knocking. They open the door and are surprised by what
they see: It's the cow and the pig!

Three economists and three mathematicians
were going for a trip by train. Before the journey, the mathematicians
bought 3 tickets but economists only bought one. The mathematicians were
glad their stupid colleagues were going to pay a fine. However, when the
conductor was approaching their compartment, all three economists went
to the nearest toilet. The conductor, noticing that somebody was in the
toilet, knocked on the door. In reply he saw a hand with one ticket. He
checked it and the economists saved 2/3 of the ticket price.

The next day, the mathematicians
decided to use the same strategy- they bought only one ticket, but economists
did not buy tickets at all! When the mathematicians saw the conductor,
they hid in the toilet, and when they heard knocking they handed in the
ticket. They did not get it back.

Why? The economists took it and
went to the other toilet.

A party of economists was climbing
in the Alps . After several hours they became hopelessly lost. One of them
studied the map for some time, turning it up and down, sighting on distant
landmarks, consulting his compass, and finally the sun.

Finally he said, ' OK see that big
mountain over there?'

'Yes', answered the others eagerly.

'Well, according to the map, we're
standing on top of it.' 

Did you hear of the economist who dove into his swimming pool and broke
his neck?

He forgot to seasonally adjust his

If all the economists were laid end to end they would be an orgy, of

A wealthy labor economist had an urge to have grandchildren. He had
two daughters and two sons and none of them had gratified his desire for
a grandchild. At the annual family gathering on Thanksgiving Day, he chided
them gently to bless his old age with their progeny. "But I haven't given
up hope," he said, "Yesterday I went to the bank and set up a one hundred
thousand dollar trust fund to be given to the first grandchild that I have.
Now we will all bow our heads while I say a prayer of thanks." When he
looked up, he and his wife were the only ones at the table. 


Newlan's Truism: An "acceptable"
level of unemployment means that the government economist to whom it is
acceptable still has a job. 

Q Why did the market economist cross the road?

A To reach the consensus forecast. 

Q: What does an economist use when calculating constant-dollar estimates?

A: Deflator mouse 

these were created by Pat Marren 2/14/96












When Albert Einstein died, he met three New Zealanders in the queue
outside the Pearly Gates. To pass the time, he asked what were their IQs.
The first replied 190. "Wonderful," exclaimed Einstein. "We can discuss
the contribution made by Ernest Rutherford to atomic physics and my theory
of general relativity". The second answered 150. "Good," said Einstein.
"I look forward to discussing the role of New Zealand's nuclear-free legislation
in the quest for world peace". The third New Zealander mumbled 50. Einstein
paused, and then asked, "So what is your forecast for the budget deficit
next year?" (Adapted from Economist June 13th 1992, p. 71). 

Two men are flying in a captive balloon. The wind is ugly and they
come away from their course and they have no idea where they are. So they
go down to 20 m above ground and ask a passing wanderer. "Could you tell
us where we are?"

"You are in a balloon."

So the one pilot to the other:

"The answer is perfectly right and
absolutely useless. The man must be an economist"

"Then you must be businessmen", answers
the man.

"That's right! How did you know?"

"You have such a good view from where
you are and yet you don't know where you are!"

Light bulb jokes are always in...

 Q: How many Chicago School
economists does it take to change a light bulb?

 A: None. If the light bulb
needed changing the market would have already done it.

Q: How
many mainstream economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A1: Two. One to assume the existence
of ladder and one to change the bulb.

A2: Two. One to assume the existence
of latter and one to change the bulb. 

Q: How many neo-classical economists does
it take to change a light bulb?

A: It depends on the wage rate. 

Q: How many conservative economists does
it take to change a light bulb?

A1: None. The darkness will cause
the light bulb to change by itself.

A2: None. If it really needed changing,
market forces would have caused it to happen.

A3: None. If the government would
just leave it alone, it would screw itself in.

A4. None. "There is no need to change
the light bulb. All the conditions for illumination are in place.

A5. None, because, look! It's getting
brighter! It's definitely getting brighter !!!

A5. None; they're all waiting for
the unseen hand of the market to correct the lighting disequilibrium.

The above light bulb jokes were mostly
stolen from an article in _The_Wharton_Journal_, Feb. 21, 1994, by Selena
Maranjian, who undoubtedly pilfered the humor from someone else. Selena
also suggested (for you B-school types):

Q: How many Wharton MBAs does it
take to change a light bulb?

A: Only one, if you hire me. I can
actually change the light bulb by myself. As you can see from my resume,
I've had extensive experience changing light bulbs in my previous positions.
I've also been named to the Wharton Light Bulb list, and am presently a
teaching assistant for Light Bulb Management 666. My only weakness is that
I'm compulsive about changing light bulbs in my spare time.

Q: How many B-school doctoral students
does it take to change a light bulb?

A: I'm writing my dissertation on
that topic; I should have an answer for you in about 5 years.

Q: How many investors does it take
to change a light bulb?

A: None - the market has already
discounted the change.

The Economist 

Q:How many Keynesian economists does it takes to change a light bulb?

A:All. Because then you will generate
employment, more consumption, dislocating the AD (agg. demand) to the right,... 

Q: How many Trotskyists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: None. Smash it! 

Q; How many central bank economists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: Just one -- he holds the lightbulb
and the whole earth revolves around him. 

Economists do it with models 

Q: How many marxists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: None - the bulb contains within
it the seeds of its own revolution. 

How many environmental economists
does it take to change a lightbulb? Eight - one to turn the lightbulb and
seven to do the environmental impact study. ---

It's not easy being an economist. How would you like to go through
life pretending you knew what M1 was all about? 

An elderly economics professor is standing at the shallow end of the
campus pool. A Coed is standing at the deep end taking pictures. She suddenly
drops the camera into the pool. Then she motions for the professor to come
to her. He goes and she asks him to retrieve the camera. He agrees and
dives in and retrieve its.

Upon returning he says to her, "Why
did you ask me to retrieve the camera when there were many younger and
more athletic males closer to her?" She replied, "Professor you seem to
forget that I'm in your Econ I class, and I don't know anyone who can go
down deeper, stay down longer and come up drier than you."

When drawing up the guest list for
a dinner party, inviting more than 25% economists ruins the conversation. 

Economics is the painful elaboration of the obvious. 

Q: How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Seven, plus/minus ten. 

Q:How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Irrelevant - the light bulb's
preferences are to be taken as given. 

True story: The scene is a conference of professors of marketing. The
keynote speaker is an eminent economist. The chairman, who sees himself
as a bit of a wag, says,

"I would like to introduce my eminent
colleague and friend. He's an economist, one of those people who turn random
numbers into mathematical laws."

The economist, not to be outdone,

"My friend, here, is a marketer.
They reverse the process."

A Swedish contribution:

"Economics is like red whine - you
shouldn't smell it but drink it, but if you drink too much on one occasion,
there is a risk for dizziness"

("Nationalekonomi ar som rodvin
- man ska inte lukta pa det utan dricka det, men dricker man for mycket
pa en gang finns det risk for yrsel"

One day a man walked into the main
library of a major research university. He stopped at the reference desk
and asked the librarian if she had any current books about economics and
the economy.

She answered that she did, and led
the man to the reference shelves where the economics and economy books

To the surprise of both the librarian
and the man all of the books were off the shelf being used.

``That's OK,'' the man said. ``I'll
just go to another library. You see, I'm a very busy man, and I set this
weekend aside for studying economics and the economy.''

The librarian said she understood
and gave the man directions to the nearest research library. But her interest
piqued, she asked: ``Why are you so urgent to study economics and the economy?''

The man replied: "I'm an economist.
I've been teaching at this university for the past ten years. I'm attending
a business meeting on Monday, and I figure the economy has changed in the
past ten years." 

Economists do it with cross partials... 

Q. What's the difference between an economist and a befuddled old man
with Alzheimer's?

A. The economist is the one with
the calculator. 

One day a woman went for a walk in her neighborhood and came across
a boy with some puppies. "Would you like a puppy? They aren't ready for
new homes quite yet, but they will be in a few weeks!"

"Oh, they're adorable," the lady
said. "What kind of dogs are they?"

"These are economists."

"OK. I'll tell my husband."

So she went home and told her husband.
He was very interested to see the puppies. About a week later he came across
the lad; the puppies were very active.

"Hey, Mister. Want a puppy?"

"I think my wife spoke with you
last week. What kind of dogs are these?"

"Oh. These are decision analysts."

"I thought you said last week that
they were economists."

"Yeah, but they've opened their
eyes since then." 

An economist is someone who doesn't know what he's talking about -
and make you feel it's your fault. 

The definition of "waste": a busload of economists plunging over a
precipice with three of the seats unoccupied. 

True stories

I was riding my bike down a hill
in my city one night and two policemen stopped me at their speed trap.
They asked me how fast I was going - 63 km - and congratulated me on the
accuracy of my speedo. They then asked me why I was not driving a car and
as I was a woman, wasn't it dangerous to be be out at night on a bike.
I said I did not drive a car. They then asked me my occupation - I said
"an economist". One of the policemen said "That's why she's riding a bike
- she's economising"

I know that economics is ruling my
life when

- I tried to calculate my 3 year
old son's discount rate by seeing how many sweets he would require to be
promised to him after dinner to be equivalent to one sweet before dinner

- I spent one hour in a toy shop
making up over 20 bundles of toys that could be purchased for $25 and then
asked my son to select one of these bundles

Brita P 

Bill and Boris are taking a break from a long summit, Boris says to
Bill, -Bill, you know, I have a big problem I don't know what to do about.
I have a hundred bodyguards and one of them is a traitor. I don't know
which one. -Not a big deal Boris, I'm stuck with a hundred economists I
have to listen to all the time before any policy decision, and only one
tells the truth but it's never the same one.

Two government economists were returning
home from a field meeting. As with all government travelers, they were
assigned the cheapest seats on the plane so they each were occupying the
center seat on opposite sides of the aisle. They continued their discussion
of the knotty problem that had been the subject of their meeting through
takeoff and meal service until finally one of the passengers in an aisle
seat offered to trade places so they could talk and he could sleep. After
switching seats, one economist remarked to the other that it was the first
time an economic discussion ever kept anyone awake. 

Robert J. BARRO in his 1989 paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives:

"A colleague of mine argues that
a 'normative' model should be defined as a model that fits the data badly."

 Found in a paper of Anatol
RAPOPORT (Scientific American, July 1967) who tells the following joke
which he found in 'The Complete Strategist' by J. D. Williams:

"Two policemen are considering the
problem of catching the bandit. One of them starts to calculate the optimal
mixed strategy for the chase. The other policeman protests.

'While we're doodling,' he points
out, 'he is making his getaway.'

'Relax,' says the game-theorist
policeman. 'He's got to figure it out too, don't he?'" 

During the waning days of communism in the Soviet Union, an inspector
was encharged with visiting local poultry farmers and inquiring about the
amount of feed they were giving their chickens. Central planning was still
in effect and each farmer was allocated 15 Roubles to spend on chicken

One farmer very honestly answered
that he spent five of the allocated 15 Roubles on chicken feed. The inspector
took this to mean that the thieving farmer pocketed the other ten and promptly
had him imprisoned.

Hearing of this through the rumour
mill, the next farmer down the road insisted that he spent all 15 Roubles
on food for the chickens. The inspector saw this as a case of budget-padding
and the farmer as a wasteful opportunist. He too was imprisoned.

The third farmer heard of both episodes
and was more prepared for the inspector's arrival.

"How many of the 15 Roubles do you
actually spend on chicken feed," asked the inspector.

Like a true nascent capitalist, the
farmer threw his hands in the air and answered, "hey! I give 15 Roubles
to the chickens. They can eat whatever they want!"

Experienced economist and not so
experienced economist are walking down the road. They get across shit lying
on the asphalt.

Experienced economist: "If you eat
it I'll give you $20,000!"

Not so experienced economist runs
his optimization problem and figures out he's better off eating it so he
does and collects money.

Continuing along the same road they
almost step into yet another shit.

Not so experienced economist: "Now,
if YOU eat this shit I'll give YOU $20,000."

After evaluating the proposal experienced
economist eats shit getting the money.

They go on. Not so experienced economist
starts thinking: "Listen, we both have the same amount of money we had
before, but we both ate shit. I don't see us being better off."

Experienced economist: "Well, that's
true, but you overlooked the fact that we've been just involved in $40,000
of trade."

What's the difference between economists
and businessmen: the first don't keep their feet on the ground; the latest
use to keep their four feet in the ground 

An economist is someone who knows the price of everything and the value
of nothing. 

Following story is to demonstrate some possible implications of the
above statement. Two stangers, a man and a woman, meet in a cafe, the man

"My Dear, would you go to bed with
me for a million dollars?"

"Well, yes, I guess I would."

"How about $100?"

"What kind of person do you think
I am?"

"My Dear, we have already established
that. We are merely haggling over the price!" 

Economists are people who are too smart for their own good and not
smart enough for anyone else's.

From Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary:

Tariff -- A scale of taxes on imports,
designed to protect the domestic producer against the greed of his consumer.

Economy -- Purchasing the barrel
of whiskey that you do not need for the price of the cow that you cannot

A woman hears from her doctor that she has only half a year to live.
The doctor advises her to marry an economist and to live in South Dakota.
The woman asks: will this cure my illness? Answer of the doctor: No, but
the half year will seem pretty long. 

A boy was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and
said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent over,
picked up the frog and put it in his pocket. The frog spoke up again and
said, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will
stay with you for one week." The boy took the frog out of his pocket, smiled
at it, and returned it to his pocket. The frog then cried out, "If you
kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you and do ANYTHING
you want." Again the boy took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back
into his pocket. Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told
you I'm a beautiful princess, that I'll stay with you for a week and do
anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?" The boy said, "Look, I'm an
economist. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is cool." 

Q:Why did God create economists ?

A:In order to make weather forecasters
look good.

Q: Why did the economist cross the

A: It was the chicken's day off. 

Q. What does an economist do?

A. A lot in the short run, which
amounts to nothing in the long run. 

Two economists meet on the street. One inquires, "How's your wife?"
The other responds, "Relative to what?" 

To an economist, real life is a special case. 

Allow me to tell one joke in Finnish... its difficult to translate
without loosing the funny point...

K: Miten ekonomi ja ekonomisti eroavat

V: Samalla tavoin kuin alkoholi
ja alkoholisti!

 ...and one joke in German as

 Zwei Geraden treffen sich in
der Unendlichkeit. Sagt die eine: "Aus dem Weg, sonst leit' ich dich ab!"
Antwortet die andere: "Aetsch! Ich bin eine e-Funktion." 

I asked an economist for her phone number....and she gave me an estimate. 

One more lightbulb joke:

Q: How many economists does it take
to change a lightbulb?

A: Eight. One to screw it in and
seven to hold everything else constant. 

Conversation between two Dinosaurs:

Dinosaur #1: "How many economists
does it take to screw in a light bulb?"

Dinosaur #2: "What is an economist?"

Dinosaur #1: "A flunkie mathematician
who tries to predict the population of kangaroos in Australia. But that's
not important and don't ask what a Kangaroo is."

Dinosaur #2: "I don't know, how

Dinosaur #1: "10 economists and
one grad student. One economist to make a model, one to run the regression,
one to test the hypothesis, one to interpret the results, one to conclude
how to screw it on, one grad student to screw it on, and five economists
trying to fight off the dinosaurs trying to eat them. 

Economists have forecasted 9 out of the last 5 recessions. 

An econometrician and an astrologer are arguing about their subjects.
The astrologer says, "Astrology is more scientific. My predictions come
out right half the time. Yours can't even reach that proportion". The econometrician
replies, "That's because of external shocks. Stars don't have those". 

SOCIALISM: You have two cows. State takes one and give it to someone

COMMUNISM: You have two cows. State
takes both of them and gives you milk.

FASCISM: You have two cows. State
takes both of them and sell you milk.

NAZISM: You have two cows. State
takes both of them and shoot you.

BUREAUCRACY: You have two cows.
State takes both of them, kill one and spill the milk in system of sewage.

CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You
sell one and buy a bull.


FEUDALISM: You have two cows. Your
lord takes some of the milk.

PURE SOCIALISM: You have two cows.
The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's
cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you as
much milk as you need.

two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone
else's cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take
care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The
government gives you as much milk and as many eggs as the regulations say
you should need.

FASCISM: You have two cows. The government
takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

PURE COMMUNISM: You have two cows.
Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

RUSSIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows.
You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.

DICTATORSHIP: You have two cows.
The government takes both and shoots you.

cows. The government fines you for keeping two unlicensed animals in an

MILITARIANISM: You have two cows.
The government takes both and drafts you.

PURE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows.
Your neighbors decide who gets the milk.

two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

promises to give you two cows if you vote for it. After the election, the
president is impeached for speculating in cow futures. The press dubs the
affair "Cowgate".

BRITISH DEMOCRACY: You have two cows.
You feed them sheep's brains and they go mad. The government doesn't do

BUREAUCRACY: You have two cows. At
first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can
milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. After that it takes both,
shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it
requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

ANARCHY: You have two cows. Either
you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbors kill you and take the

CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You
sell one and buy a bull.

cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters
of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity
swap with associated general offer so that you get all four cows back,
with a tax deduction for keeping five cows. The milk rights of six cows
are transferred via a Panamanian intermediary to a Cayman Islands company
secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who sells the rights to all
seven cows' milk back to the listed company. The annual report says that
the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. Meanwhile, you
kill the two cows because the Feng Shui is bad.

ENVIRONMENTALISM: You have two cows.
The government bans you from milking or killing them.

FEMINISM: You have two cows. They
get married and adopt a veal calf.

TOTALITARIANISM: You have two cows.
The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned.

with (the concept of "ownership"is a symbol of the phallo-centric, war-mongering,
intolerant past) two differently-aged (but no less valuable to society)
bovines of non-specified gender.

COUNTER CULTURE: Wow, dude, there's
like... these two cows, man. You got to have some of this milk. Far out!

SURREALISM: You have two giraffes.
The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

cows. You give the milk to gangsters so they don't ask any awkward questions
about who you're giving the milk to.

cows which cost too much money to care for because everybody is buying
milk imported from some cheap east-European country and would never pay
the fortune you'd have to ask for your cows' milk. So you apply for financial
aid from the European Union to subsidise your cows and are granted enough
subsidies. You then sell your milk at the former elevated price to some
government-owned distributor which then dumps your milk onto the market
at east-European prices to make Europe competitive. You spend the money
you got as a subsidy on two new cows and then go on a demonstration to
Brussels complaining that the European farm-policy is going drive you out
of your job.

two cows. You sell the milk (diluted with some water) at a high price to
the neighbors or to anyone at the open-air market. If somebody asks for
receipt, you charge for a two times higher price, so nobody will request
an invoice. For concerned families with small babies you claim that the
milk is "bio", though you collect the grass for feeding at the side of
the highway and you keep the milk in plastic barrels used previously as
containers of dangerous chemicals. Later, your neighbor or anybody from
town will steal the cows and will buy their meat for a high price, and
if you ask for a receipt, you will be charged for a two times higher price.

FINNISH SOCIALISM: You have two cows.
Soon you have to kill one of them because in the Netherlands there is an
overproduction of milk and the European Union rules say so. When you do
so, you realize that it was not necessary, only the system was too slow
in getting you the up-to-date news. From the stress, you get an ulcer in
your stomach so you go to a doctor. The doctor realizes that this ulcer
is a serious one, so you need an urgent treatment. Therefore, you soon
get a call to the local hospital. The call's date is for 3 months later,
because there is a queue with more urgent cases. Then your ulcer becomes
even more serious because you remember that 40 percent of your income is
taken for social tax. 

Q: What do you call a little girl in a brown dress who is running across
a playground?

A: A brownian motion. 

David Gunn (Scotland): "Eighty percent of rules of thumb only apply
20 percent of the time" 

This one I attribute to Richard Thaler, now at the Univ of Chicago.

When an economist says the evidence
is "mixed," he or she means that theory says one thing and data says the

From Peter Kennedy's "A Guide to Econometrics" (MIT Press, 1992):

(P. 7) [Econometrics is...] the art
of drawing a crooked line from an unproved assumption to a foregone conclusion." 

True story: One day in microeconomics, the professor was writing up
the typical "underlying assumptions" in preparation to explain a new model.
I turned to my friend and asked, "What would Economics be without assumptions?"
He thought for a moment, then replied, "Accounting." 

Q: Why has astrology been invented? A: So that economy could be an
accurate science. 

This is a true story:

Back in the mid-1970s, I attended
an ASSA/AEA convention in Dallas. During the third day of the convention,
one of the bellhops at the convention hotel asked me who the people attending
the convention were and what we did for a living.

"We're economists," I replied. "Why
do you ask?"

"I don't know..... no women, no
drugs, just booze, booze, booze."

John Palmer 

An old joke applied to economists.

One night a policeman saw a macroeconomist
looking for something buy a lightpole.  He asked him is had had lost
something there.  The economist said, "I lost my keyes over in the
alley."  The policeman asked him why he was looking by the lightpole. 
The economist responded, "it's a lot easier to look over here."

This tale is said to be told by
John Kenneth Galbraith on himself. As a boy he lived on a farm in Canada.
On the adjoining farm, lived a girl he was fond of.  One day as they
sat together on the top rail of the cattle pen they watced a bull servicing
a cow. Galbraith turned to the girl, with what he hoped was a suggestive
look, saying,  "That looks like it would be fun."  She replied,
"Well....she's your cow."

An economist is someone who gets
rich explaining others why they are poor.

Not a joke as such, but (a true
story, apparently, as told by a Finance lecturer at LSE):

An economist was about to give a
presentation in Washington, DC on the problems with Black-Scholes model
of option pricing and was expecting no more than a dozen of government
officials attending (who would bother?). To his amazement, when he arrived,
the room was packed with edgy, tough-looking guys in shades. Still, after
five or so minutes into the presentation all of them stood up and left
without a word. The economist found out only later

that his secretary ran the presentation
through a spell-checker and what was "The Problem with Black-Scholes" became 
"The Problem with Black Schools", a rather more fascinating subject.

The last severe depression and banking
crisis could not have been achieved by normal civil servants and politicians,
it required economists

"I'd rather be vaguely right than
precisely wrong."

- J.M.Keynes; Found in Forbes magazine
01/25/1999 issue.  In the Numbers Game column by Bernard Cohen 

A joke from the October 1992 Reader's Digest, the Best Medicine section:

"I'm thinking of leaving my husband,"
complained the economist's wife.

"All he ever does is stand at the
end of the bed and tell me how good things are going to be." 

Q: Why do social workers refuse to sleep with economists?

A: They have learned its a sunk

Q: Why do Economists provide estimates of inflation to the nearest
tenth of a percent?

A: To prove they have a sense of

"Economic statistics are like a bikini, what they reveal is important,
what they conceal is vital"

- Attributed to Professor Sir Frank
Holmes, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, 1967. 

"An economist is a person who confronted with a eight foot high wall,
immediately assumes he is ten feet tall."

- Attributed to John Zanetti, Senior
Lecturer, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand 1971. 

Contagion: A strory demostrating the possible outcomes from interlinkages
in the financial markets.

Back during the Solidarity days,
I heard that the following joke was being told in Poland:

A man goes into the Bank of Gdansk
to make a deposit. Since he has never kept money in a bank before, he is
a little nervous.

"What happens if the Bank of Gdansk
should fail?" he asks.

"Well, in that case your money would
be insured by the Bank of Warsaw."

"But, what if the Bank of Warsaw

"Well, there'd be no problem, because
the Bank of Warsaw is insured by the National Bank of Poland."

"And if the National Bank of Poland

"Then your money would be insured
by the Bank of Moscow."

"And what if the Bank of Moscow

"Then your money would be insured
by the Great Bank of the Soviet Union."

"And if that bank fails?"

"Well, in that case, you'd lose
all your money. But, wouldn't it be worth it?"

Seven habits that help produce the
anything-but-efficient markets that rule the world by Paul Krugman in Fortune.

1. Think short term.

2. Be greedy.

3. Believe in the greater fool

4. Run with the herd.

5. Overgeneralize

6. Be trendy

7. Play with other people's money

Phelson's Law (or so I was told)

Copying an idea from an author is
plagiarism. Copying many ideas from many authors is... research !! 

These deep thoughts of colleague economists were originally collected
by Hiroyuki Kawakatsu

How to do research

Keep the ass to the chair.

-James Buchanan

Everything has been thought before,
but the problem is to think of it again.


Concepts without perceptions are
empty; perceptions without concepts are blind.


Mathematics has no symbols for confused

-George Stigler

All models are wrong but some are

-George Box

Far better an approximate answer
to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the
wrong question, which can always be made precise.

-J. Tukey

The paradox is now fully established
that the utmost abstractions are the true weapons with which to control
our thought of concrete fact.

-A. Whitehead

In the long-run, there's just another

-Abba Lerner

Life can only be understood backwards,
but it must be lived forwards.


Someone once said about partisan
analysts that they use economic data the way a drunkard uses a lamppost:
for support rather than illumination. Or as Disraeli put it, there are
three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.

-Paul Krugman

Theories are testable where they
are least needed, and are not testable where they are most needed.

-Charles Manski

If you torture the data long enough,
Nature will confess.

-Ronald Coase

There are two things you are better
off not watching in the making: sausages and econometric estimates.

-Edward Leamer

Doing econometrics is like trying
to learn the laws of electricity by playing the radio.

-Guy Orcutt

Any observed statistical regularity
will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes.

-Charles Goodhart

Time series regression studies give
no sign of converging toward the truth.

-Phillip Cagan

Any time series regression containing
more than four independent variables results in garbage

-Zvi Griliches

Forecasting is like trying to drive
a car blindfolded and following directions given by a person who is looking
out of the back window


Given the choice between Bob Solow
and an econometric model to make forecasts, I'd choose Bob Solow; but I'd
rather have Bob Solow with an econometric model, than Bob Solow without

-Paul Samuelson

Keep in mind the three most important
aspects of real data analysis: compromise, compromise, and compromise.

-Edward Leamer

The four golden rules of econometrics:

1.Think brilliantly,

2.Be infinitely creative,

3.Be outstandingly lucky,

4.Otherwise, stick to being a theorist

-David Hendry

A good empirical study requires three

1.A concise and sensible theoretical
framework that is related to the questions to be asked,

2.Reasonably good data, and

3.An experiment or an event or a
set of circumstances that give the data a chance to answer the questions
asked. In short, the model needs to be identifiable from the data at hand.

-Zvi Griliches

Two students of economics at lunch:

Student 1" 'Do you know what are
the two most important degrees in economics?"

Student 2:"The MSc and the PhD?"
Student 1:"No, the zeroth and the first!" 

In explaining why she felt our relationship had problems, a former
girlfriend (an English teacher) told me that the problem was that I was
so ... so ... reasonable. (David Colander) 

+An economics journal article should
be like a woman's skirt: short enough to be provocative; long enough to
have something substantial underneath.

- Gerard Debreu (?)

+ A student was sitting in an econometric
class taught by Prof White. The lecture was too difficult that few students
understood it.

 "What is the lecture all about?"
A student asked his friend who was sitting right next to him.

"I don't quite understand it either.
All I get is, it's just some noise...specifically, white noise. He said
we can expect it to be nothing on average." 

+ When doctors make mistakes, at
least they kill their patients. When economists make mistakes, they merely
ruin them.

+ An economist is someone who has
had a human being described to him, but has never actually seen one.

+ There are three sorts of economist.
Those who can count, and those who can't.

+ Grow your own dope -- plant an

+ Economic forecasters assume everything,
except responsibility.

+ Economics is to be found in the
library -- beyond fiction.

+ You know the difference between
a dead economist and a dead cat. There are usually skid marks in front
of the dead cat.

+ I begin with the assumption that
economists have their uses. I know many of you will disagree with this,
but as economists themselves say, 'we can relax the assumption later'.

+ Several academics are asked whether
all odd numbers are prime:p> Mathematician: let's see...3 is prime, 5 is
prime, and the result follows by induction.

Physicist: let's see...3 is prime,
5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is -- experimental error, 11 is prime, 13 is
prime, ...

Engineer: let's see...3 is prime,
5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is prime, 11 is prime...

Computer Scientist: let's see...3
is prime, 3 is prime, 3 is prime...

Economist: let's see...2 is prime,
4 is prime, 6 is prime...

+An econometrician E.M. left his
office after a long day of doing estimations. When arriving at the parking
lots, he could not find his car because he could not remember the exact
place where he left it. After pondering a while, he stopped at an empty
lot and started cursing, "they stole my car, those bloody bandits". He
called in the police who started taking notes after arrival. A friend from
the history department passed along. After listening to what had happened
he said, "hey, your car is 25 meters over there, didn't you realize?" The
econometrician said, "Can't be, this is the mean value of the distribution
of my past choices of lots".

+"I once read about a meeting of
economists who agreed that if their forecasts were 33 1/3 % correct, that
was considered a high mark in their profession. Well, of course, I know
you cannot invest in securities successfully with odds like that against
you if you place dependence solely upon judgement as to the right securities
to own and the right time or price to buy them. Then, too, I read somewhere
about the man who described an economist as resembling 'a professor of
anatomy who was still a virgin.'"

-Gerald M Loeb (1935, 1965 ed.)
"The Battle for Investment Survival"

+Economics-everything we know in
a language we don't understand.

A voice from history.

 "Not all Germans believe in
God but they believe in the Bundesbank"

 Jacques Delors former president
of European Commission

in FT December 15,1998 

A real story

 One day, the professor who
taught Money and Banking in Buenos Aires told us: "I do not know if you
will find a job as economists, but am sure you will know why you are going
to be poor" 

Overheard in passing: one Oxford economics don speaking to another
while walking along a street: "And ninthly, ..."

from Albert Clack in London.

An economics limerick

 Folks came from afar just to

Two Economists who'd agreed to agree.

While the event did take place,

It proved a disgrace;

They agreed one plus one adds to

 Robley E. George

A joke on the streets of Moscow these days, according to World Bank
staffer John Nellis, goes this way: "Everything the Communists told us
about communism was a complete and utter lie. Unfortunately, everything
the Communists told us about capitalism turned out to be true." 

A Scorpion begged a Frog to carry him across the river because he could
not swim. The Frog hesitated for fearing being stung by the Scorpion. The
Scorpion said: "Don't worry, you know I won't sting you since we will both
get drowned if I do that". So the Frog carried Scorpion across the river.
But in the middle of the river, it happened--the Frog got a sting. Before
he died, the Frog asked Scorpion in disbelief: "I don't understand why
you did this!?" "Because I am not a game theorist and you are", replied
the Scorpion.

 Contributed by Ding Lu

A real story

 Last year at the SEA meetings
in Baltimore, I was in the elevator and witnessed the following: the elevator
gets to the lobby, and there is a woman (economist) waiting to get in and
a man (economist) waiting to get out. The woman pauses to allow the man
to exit first, the man pauses to allow the woman to enter the elevator
first. After a couple of seconds of just standing there, they both make
a move for the door - but as each sees the other moving, they pause again
to allow the other to go first. More standing still occurs until finally
the door starts to close. The man in the elevator jabs his arm out at the
last instant to prevent the doors from closing, and the two stumble past
each other as they simultaneous switch places. The door finally closes,
and as the elevator starts to move the economist is heard to say, under
her breath, "Manners are never optimal."

- Edward Bierhanzl

A joke told at Kobe University

 The new theorem was published
and it aroused discussion.

English : "Can you make this theorem
base on some experiences?"

German : "Can you make this theorem
base on some basic theorems?"

French : "Can you make this theorem
translate into French?"

Japanese : "Is your teacher a famous

INTEREST GROUP ECONOMIST VIRUS - Divides your hard disk into hundreds
of little units, each of which does practically nothing, but all of which
claim to be the most important part of the computer.

of the PCs infected will lose 38 percent of their data 14 percent of the
time (plus or minus a 3.5 percent margin of

- Doesn't do anything, but you can't get rid of it until next election.

works on your system, but all your diagnostic software says everything
is just fine.

your computer shut down whenever it wants to.

your computer, but denies it ever happened.

claims it feels threatened by the other files on your PC and erases then
in "self-defense."

sure that it's bigger than any other file.

VIRUS - Deletes all monetary files, but keeps smiling and sending messages
about how the economy is going to get better.

your computer to sleep for four years. When your computer wakes up, you're
trillion more dollars in debt.

NEW ECONOMY VIRUS - Also known as
the "Tricky Dick Virus." You can wipe it out, but it always makes a comeback.

Before allowing you to delete any file, it first asks you if you've considered
the alternatives.

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