Jan 5, 2010

Are economists cheap or concerned about the loss of efficiency?

"Academic economists gather in Atlanta this weekend for their annual meetings, always held the first weekend after New Year's Day....The economists make cities bid against each other to hold their convention, and don't care so much about beaches, golf courses or other frills."

This is from this nice Wall Street Journal piece that lists a bunch of instances where economists appear to be cheap. But I tend to agree with Betsey Stevenson, who says economists aren't cheap, but they are concerned with a loss of economic efficiency.

For example, Robert Gordon, of Northwestern University, says he drives out of his way to go to a grocery store where prices are cheaper than at the nearby Whole Foods, even though it takes him an extra half hour to save no more than $5. Still, he lives in a 11,000-square-foot, 21-room 1889 mansion on the largest residential lot in Evanston, Illinois. "The house is full, every room is furnished, there are 72 oriental rugs and vast collections of oriental art, 1930s art deco Czech perfume bottles and other nice stuff," he says.

"Some economists may be cheap, at least by the standards of other people, because of [...] a fascination with money and choices"! I agree. It's not how much money you spend that matters, as long as what you get for it is worh it.

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