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Economics and jargon

Benshapiro
Posts: 3,966
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9/19/2015 6:41:09 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
As an Econ major, I can safely say that the study of economics is loaded to the brim with jargon. I really wish it wasn't, because in order for people interested in the subject to become familiarized they need to learn the jargon first. It's counter-productive.
ResponsiblyIrresponsible
Posts: 12,398
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9/19/2015 7:17:29 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 9/19/2015 6:41:09 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
As an Econ major, I can safely say that the study of economics is loaded to the brim with jargon. I really wish it wasn't, because in order for people interested in the subject to become familiarized they need to learn the jargon first. It's counter-productive.

I generally agree, but at the same time I don't think you'll find jargon on, say, news stories or on financial programs -- which are probably the outlets in which laypeople (read: non-econ majors, and even some less-informed econ majors, of which there are many) would even immerse themselves in.

The problem is, these issues are complicated. The world isn't black and white, and to actively involve laypeople into the discussion, we would cede much of the nuances of the discussion which are *necessary* for the proper implementation and communication of, say, monetary policy (and signaling is the *primary* channel at this point).

Here's an example. A lot of people who comment on Fed policy will say, "low rates mean super easy money, and high rates mean tighter money." That's just demonstrably wrong, but the reasons why it's wrong -- or the reasons why lifting interest rates is "not just a 25 basis point increase" -- is extremely complex.

As is, we have too many dipsh1ts commenting on economic policy. I'd much prefer to have substance over vernacular, even if that substance requires jargon -- and I think that's inevitable.
~ResponsiblyIrresponsible

DDO's Economics Messiah
ResponsiblyIrresponsible
Posts: 12,398
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9/19/2015 9:25:35 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Here's another problem: the so-called "jargon" is actually central to the current debates over economics.

Some examples:

(1) "Potential" growth -- no one knows what that is, because most have never seen even the most basic, Hicksian Kynesian Cross.

(2) "Wicksellian equilibrium real interest rate" -- if you haven't seen Hicks, I doubt you've ever seen Wicksel.

(3) "Financial imbalances" -- they probably listen to Elizabeth Warren on this sh1t, in which case they think Glassed Steagall or sticking it to and/or firing bankers is the be-all, end-all, but it's actually much more complex than that -- or, for that matter, much more complex than Rand Paul's "bubbles, bubbles, everywhere" approach.

(4) "Inflation" -- even survey-based measures of inflation expectations, an important indicator used in policy indications, tend to show that people who are more financially literate are better able to discern differences in changes in the goods *they* buy changes in the *overall* or general price level. Most people don't understand inflation, know what the Fed is, or what would constitute a "rational" response.

(5) "Federal Reserve" -- I rest my case on this one. Hell, almost half believe in geocentrism, or in the literal existence of angels. No way in hell do they know what the Fed is.

(6) "Cyclical unemployment, structural unemployment" -- this is the *most important* current debate in economics, but I bet most people don't know what the "normal level of unemployment" isn't 0. You could say the same thing about "price stability" not meaning 0 percent inflation.

I rest my case, honestly... and while I think there might be wisdom in economists not writing in "economese" -- and, generally, I think many of these do this in their more popular writings (op eds and such, as opposed to academic papers) -- it's simply impossible to structure content in a way that's accessible to the average layperson without surrendering the complexity of the discussion, or distilling it into simplicity that would fit into dipsh1t political sound bytes. I'm not willing to cede my field to no-nothing politicians, sheep, and rednecks anytime soon.
~ResponsiblyIrresponsible

DDO's Economics Messiah
Chang29
Posts: 732
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9/20/2015 11:26:59 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 9/19/2015 6:41:09 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
As an Econ major, I can safely say that the study of economics is loaded to the brim with jargon. I really wish it wasn't, because in order for people interested in the subject to become familiarized they need to learn the jargon first. It's counter-productive.

It is a useful tool to expose outsiders, every profession has it. Hanging around many fields were their jargon has no text book, trust is gained by demonstrating a shared vocabulary.
A free market anti-capitalist

If it can be de-centralized, it will be de-centralized.