Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Edward L. Glaeser: Where to Draw a Line on Ethics -

Edward L. Glaeser: Where to Draw a Line on Ethics -

I personally think this is WAY overblown in this case. Yes, increase transparency and present conflicts of interest. But I really am not sure if there is much of a problem. First you have to identify the conflict. I would wager that few have the supposed conflict (only a relatively small percentage of economists work as consultants etc) and those that do, do not regularly get the "ability" to influence debate. Do some? Yes, but it is a small percentage.

Put another way, even if there were this massive conflict of interest, how much do people actually listen to finance professors or economists.

Secondly as the article notes, the AEA has no power. I am sure a relatively small percentage of professors are members (I am not).

"It would be nice to think that the American Economic Association could lay down a code of ethics that would solve everything, but that would be a vast institutional overreach. The biggest problem with that approach is that the A.E.A. is not a licensing or accrediting association, like the American Bar Association.

The A.E.A. publishes journals, organizes an annual meeting and gives out awards, such as the John Bates Clark Medal. Membership in the A.E.A. is not selective, and many economists choose not to join, without much harm to their professional reputation (I think I’ve let my own membership lapse).

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