economists and economics
believe that even Adam
Smith would enjoy these jokes.
Economics is the only field in
which two people can get a Nobel Prize for saying exactly the
Humor is evolving, now we have a refinement:
"Economics is the only field in
which two people can get a Nobel Prize for saying the opposite thing"
is true, but is not strong enough. Better:
"Economics is the only field in
which two people can share a Nobel Prize for saying opposing things."
Specifically, Myrdal and Hayek shared one.
(A rumor has it that there was a
similar case in neuroscience, Golgi and Cajal, maybe economists are
not so different!)
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,
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, four."
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?"
TOP 10 REASONS TO STUDY ECONOMICS
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
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 Box
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
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 economist."
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
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...
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
- 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."
Practice economy at any cost.
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
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
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
Kenneth E. BOULDING
Q. What do economists and computers have in common ??
A. You need to punch information into both of
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
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
Why? The economists took it and went to the other
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
'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
He forgot to seasonally adjust his pool.
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.
NATURAL RATE OF UNEMPLOYMENT
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
Subject: TOP TEN ECONOMIST VALENTINES
10. YOU RAISE MY INTEREST RATE THIRTY BASIS
POINTS WITHOUT A CORRESPONDING DROPOFF IN CONSUMER ENTHUSIASM
9. DESPITE A DECADE OF INFLATION, I STILL DIG
YOUR SUPPLY CURVE
8. WHAT DO YOU SAY WE REMEASURE OUR CROSS-ELASTICITY
7. YOU BRING THE BUTTER, I'LL BRING THE GUN
6. LET'S RAISE HOUSING STARTS TOGETHER
5. FURTHER STIMULUS COULD RESULT IN UNCONTROLLED
4. TELL ME WHETHER MY EXPECTATIONS ARE RATIONAL
3. LET'S ASSUME A RITZY HOTEL ROOM AND A BOTTLE
2. YOU STOKE THE ANIMAL SPIRITS OF MY MARKET
1. A LOAF OF BREAD, A JUG OF WINE, AND THOU
BESIDE ME WATCHING RUKEYSER
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
"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
A: None - the market has already discounted the
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
"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, replies,
"My friend, here, is a marketer. They reverse the
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 were.
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
A. The economist is the one with the
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
"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.
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
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
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 feed.
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
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
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
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 asks.
"My Dear, would you go to bed with me for a
"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!"
According to Ross Emmet, the story was told by George Bernard Shaw. The man
and woman are Winston Churchill and Lady Astor and the incident allegedly did
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 afford.
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
Q: Why did the economist cross the road?
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 requested...
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: 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 many?"
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 else.
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.
Alternative: A COWSMIC VIEW OF WORLD
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
BUREAUCRATIC SOCIALISM: You have 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.
SINGAPORE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. The
government fines you for keeping two unlicensed animals in an apartment.
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.
REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows.
Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.
AMERICAN DEMOCRACY: The government 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 anything.
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 cows.
CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one
and buy a bull.
HONG KONG CAPITALISM: You have two 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
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.
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS: You are associated 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! Awesome!
SURREALISM: You have two giraffes. The
government requires you to take harmonica lessons.
JAPANESE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. You
give the milk to gangsters so they don't ask any awkward questions about who
you're giving the milk to.
EUROPEAN FEDERALISM: You have two 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.
EASTERN EUROPEAN DEMOCRACY: You have 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
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 opposite.
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
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,
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 involvement.
"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 cost.
Q: Why do Economists provide estimates of inflation to the nearest tenth of a
A: To prove they have a sense of humour.
"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.
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.
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
How to do research
Keep the ass to the chair.
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 ideas.
All models are wrong but some are useful.
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.
The paradox is now fully established that the
utmost abstractions are the true weapons with which to control our thought of
In the long-run, there's just another short-run.
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.
Theories are testable where they are least
needed, and are not testable where they are most needed.
If you torture the data long enough, Nature
There are two things you are better off not
watching in the making: sausages and econometric estimates.
Doing econometrics is like trying to learn the
laws of electricity by playing the radio.
Any observed statistical regularity will tend
to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes.
Time series regression studies give no sign of
converging toward the truth.
Any time series regression containing more
than four independent variables results in garbage
Forecasting is like trying to drive a car
blindfolded and following directions given by a person who is looking out of the
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 one
Keep in mind the three most important aspects
of real data analysis: compromise, compromise, and compromise.
The four golden rules of econometrics:
2.Be infinitely creative,
3.Be outstandingly lucky,
4.Otherwise, stick to being a theorist
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.
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)
+With simultaneous low inflation and low unemployment in the US persisting
for some time, certain policy-makers at the Fed are beginning to think NAIRU
stands for Nothing About Inflation (is) Related (to) Unemployment.
- Chris Varvares (September 2000)
+A true story:
A game theorist was talking to a group of psychologists at a conference. The
conversation turned to children. He said that he does not intend his children to
get any money from him now that they are grown. "In fact, if I have so much as a
penny to my name on the day I die, it will only be because I miscalculated my
+In the Soviet Union, Stalin asked the Minister of Finance to give him an
advice as to the establishment of the ruble convertibility. The minister
produced a thick document, arguing in favor of establishment the rate 1 dollar =
14 rubles. Stalin looked at it and did not like that ruble is so undervalued. He
took his red pencil and eliminated "1". The exchange rate was established at 1
dollar = 4 rubles.
An economics journal article should be like a
woman's skirt: short enough to be provocative; long enough to have something
- Gerard Debreu (?)
+ A student was sitting in an econometric
class taught by Prof White. The lecture was too difficult that few students
"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 economist.
Economic forecasters assume everything, except
Economics is to be found in the library --
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
(the joke has apparently very little to do with economics, but if it makes
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
Economics-everything we know in a language we
A voice from history.
"Not all Germans believe in God but they
believe in the Bundesbank"
Jacques Delors former president of European
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 see
Two Economists who'd agreed to agree.
While the event did take place,
It proved a disgrace;
They agreed one plus one adds to three.
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
English : "Can you make this theorem base on some
German : "Can you make this theorem base on some
French : "Can you make this theorem translate
Japanese : "Is your teacher a famous professor?"
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.
ECONOMETRICIAN VIRUS - Sixty percent 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
POLITICAL THINK TANK ECONOMIST VIRUS - Doesn't do
anything, but you can't get rid of it until next election.
GOVERNMENT ECONOMIST VIRUS - nothing works on
your system, but all your diagnostic software says everything is just fine.
MARXIAN ECONOMIST VIRUS - Helps your computer
shut down whenever it wants to.
SOVIET ECONOMIST VIRUS - Crashes your computer,
but denies it ever happened.
MAINSTREAM ECONOMIST VIRUS - It claims it feels
threatened by the other files on your PC and erases then in "self-defense."
CENTRAL BANK ECONOMIST VIRUS - Makes sure that
it's bigger than any other file.
MULTINATIONAL CORPORATION ECONOMIST VIRUS -
Deletes all monetary files, but keeps smiling and sending messages about how the
economy is going to get better.
SUPPLY SIDE ECONOMIST VIRUS - Puts 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.
ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMIST VIRUS - Before allowing
you to delete any file, it first asks you if you've considered the alternatives.
Two economists sit down to play chess. They
study the board for 24 hours and declare a stale-mate.
A friend of mine was taking a class by Milton Friedman at the U of Chicago,
and after a late night studying fell asleep in class. This sent Friedman into a
little tizzy and he came over and pounded on the table, demanding an answer to a
question he had just posed to the class, my friend, shaken but now awake said "
I'm sorry Professor, I missed the question but the answer is increase the money
We love it on the floor of the CBOT.
What does it take to be a good economist? An unshakeable grasp of the obvious!
" I have come to appreaciate how Monetarists view the holiness of this
principle ['Friedman's x% rule'] by watching Friedman advising on the
appropriate monetary policy in diverse complex situations and each time coming
up, unfailingly, with the same practical answer: 3 percent."
Contemporary Policy Issues (1988) 6 October
Robert M. Solow, addressing other economists on the Theory of Capital in
1962, "I have long since abandoned the illusion that participants in this debate
actually communicate with one another. So I omit the standard polemical
introduction, and get down to business at once." It's good to see an empirical
economic discovery that has stood the test of time.
Introductory lines to his "In the Theory of
Capital", XXIV (June 1962), 207-218, Review of Economic Studies.
Heard at the University of Oslo campus
We all know what pareto optimal allocation
means... What about Jesus-optimal allocation -- when all persons are equally
well off, and one person _really_ gets it bad, worse off, while all the rest are
much better off...
Dostojevskij-minimum: When everyone is so bad off that no-one can be worse
off without anyone getting better off. (Beware of the second-order condition!)
Achieving free trade is like getting to heaven. Everyone one wants to get
there, but not too soon.
Value of human capital
Engineers and scientists will never make as
much money as business executives. Now a rigorous mathematical proof that
explains why this is true:
Postulate 1: Knowledge is Power.
Postulate 2: Time is Money.
As every engineer knows,
---------- = Power
Since Knowledge = Power, and Time =Money, we
--------- = Knowledge
Solving for Money, we get:
----------- = Money
Thus, as Knowledge approaches zero, Money
approaches infinity regardless of the Work done.
Conclusion: The Less you Know, the more money you
A traveller wandering on an island inhabited
entirely by cannibals comes upon a butcher shop. This shop specialised in human
brains differentiated according to source. The sign in the shop read:
Artists' Brains $9/lb
Philosophers' Brains $12/lb
Scientists' Brains $15/lb
Economists' Brains $19/lb
Upon reading the sign, the traveller noted, "My
those economists' brains must be popular!" To which the butcher replied, "Are
you kidding! Do you have any idea how many economists you have to kill to get a
pound of brains?!"
HA! ... It's a *supply side* joke!
President Truman once said he wants an
economic adviser who is one handed. Why? Because normally the economists giving
him economic advice state "On one hand and on the other..."
The Commerce Department has a 46-page application packet for economists to
seeking to run its leading economic index, but the packet warns: "the government
will evaluate only the first 25 pages of a written proposal."
The Wall Street Journal, July 21, 1995
In Canada there is a small radical group that refuses to speak english and no
one can understand them. They are called separatists. In this country (USA) we
have the same kind of group. They are called economists.
An economist was asked about the meaning of life. He replied:
It depends on the parameter values.
On the first day God created the sun - so the Devil countered and created
sunburn. On the second day God created sex. In response the Devil created
marriage. On the third day God created an economist. This was a tough one for
the Devil, but in the end and after a lot of thought he created a second
CHEER February 1993
Three leading economists took a small plane to the wilderness in northern
Canada to hunt moose over the weekend. The last thing the pilot said was ,
remember, this is a very small plane and you will only be able to bring ONE
But of course, they killed one each and come
sunday, they talked the pilot into letting them bring all three dead moose
onboard. So just after takeoff, the plane stalled and crashed. In the wreckage,
one of the economists woke up, looked around and said. where the hell are we.
Oh, just about a hundred yards east of the place there we crashed last year.
"Economic man" never gets a hang-over, if he doesn't decide that the
advantages of acquiring it exceed the draw-backs.
Everybody has a comparative advantage in some respect, provided that
performances are not entirely in the third quadrant.
"This man is a first year economics student, so we can't show you his friends."
- Tim Ferguson, DAAS Farewell Tour, 1994
An Economist is someone who didn't have enough personality to become an
An economist is someone who knows 100 ways to make love, but doesn't know any
Q: What is a recent economics graduate's usual question in his first job?
A: What would you like to have with your
french fries sir?
An economist returns to visit his old school. He's interested in the current
exam questions and asks his old professor to show some. To his surprise they are
exactly the same ones to which he had answered 10 years ago! When he asks about
this the professor answers: "the questions are always the same - only the
Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.
A central banker walks into a pizzeria to order a pizza.
When the pizza is done, he goes up to the
counter get it. There a clerk asks him: "Should I cut it into six pieces or
The central banker replies: "I'm feeling
rather hungry right now. You'd better cut it into eight pieces."
Reproduced below is an Economist Joke that
illustrates the separate facilities solution to an externality problem.
Three guys decide to play a round of golf: a
priest, a psychologist, and an economist.
They get behind a *very* slow two-some, who,
despite a caddy, are taking all day to line up their shots and four-putting
every green, and so on. By the 8th hole, the three men are complaining loudly
about the slow play ahead and swearing a blue streak, and so on. The priest says,
"Holy Mary, I pray that they should take some lessons before they play again."
The psychologist says, "I swear there are people that like to play golf slowly."
The economist says, "I really didn't expect to spend this much time playing a
round of golf."
By the 9th hole, they have had it with slow
play, so the psychologist goes to the caddy and demands that they be allowed to
play through. The caddy says O.K., but then explains that the two golfers are
blind, that both are retired firemen who lost their eyesight saving people in a
fire, and that explains their slow play, and would they please not swear and
complain so loud.
The priest is mortified; he says, "Here I am a
man of the cloth and I've been swearing at the slow play of two blind men." The
psychologist is also mortified; he says, "Here I am a man trained to help others
with their problems and I've been complaining about the slow play of two blind
The economist ponders the situation-finally he
goes back to the caddy and says, "Listen, the next time could they play at night."
A physicist, a chemist and an economist are
stranded on an island, with nothing to eat. A can of soup washes ashore. The
physicist says, "Lets smash the can open with a rock." The chemist says, "Lets
build a fire and heat the can first." The economist says, "Lets assume that we
have a can-opener..."
Q: What's the difference between a finance major and an economics major?
A: Opportunity Cost
An economist, a philosopher, a biologist, and
an architect were were arguing about what was God's real profession. The
philosopher said, "Well, first and foremost, God is a philosopher because he
created the principles by which man is to live." "Ridiculous!" said the
biologist "Before that, God created man and woman and all living things so
clearly he was a biologist." "Wrong," said the architect. "Before that, he
created the heavens and the earth. Before the earth, there was only complete
confusion and chaos!" "Well," said the economist, "where do you think the chaos
The First Law of Economists: For every
economist, there exists an equal and opposite economist.
The Second Law of Economists: They're both
pkm's existence theorem: for every finite set
of answers there exists an infinite set of novel models
If all the economists were laid end to end
a) it would be a good thing
b) they would be more comfortable
c) they would never reach conclusion
d) all of the above
e) none of the above
f) they would point in different directions
Two economists are walking down the street. One sees a dollar lying on the
sidewalk, and says so.
"Obviously not," says the other. "If there
were, someone would have picked it up!"
PS. Replace the dollar with a relevant
research idea and you get a new joke.
We have 2 classes of forecasters: Those who don't know . . . and those who
don't know they don't know.
- John Kenneth Galbraith
The experience of being proved completely
wrong is salutory. No economist should be denied it, and none are.
- J K Galbraith
"Murphys law of economic policy": Economists
have the least influence on policy where they know the most and are most agreed;
they have the most influence on policy where they know the least and disagree
- Alan S. Blinder
An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted
yesterday didn't happen today.
- Laurence J. Peter
A study of economics usually reveals that the best time to buy anything is
- Marty Allen
Having a little inflation is like being a little pregnant--inflation feeds on
itself and quickly passes the "little" mark.
- Dian Cohen
I don't think you can spend yourself rich.
- George Humphrey
If all economists were laid end to end they would not reach a conclusion.
- George Bernard Shaw
Practical men ... are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. economist
- John Maynard Keynes
If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them
is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three opinions.
- Winston Churchill
Shall I tell you the opinion of a famous economist on jealousy? Jealousy is
just the fact of being deprived. Nothing more.
- Henry Becque
Stephen M. Goldfeld, in _The Journal of Money, Credit and Banking_. November,
1984, p. 611: "An economist is someone who sees something working in practice
and asks whether it would work in principle."
Economists don't answer to questions others make because they know what the
answer is. They answer because they are asked.
There is also a joke about the last Mayday
parade in the Soviet Union. After the tanks and the troops and the planes and
the missiles rolled by there came ten men dressed in black.
"Are they Spies?" Asked Gorby?
"They are economists," replies the KGB
director, "imagine the havoc they will wreak when we set them loose on the
The mathematician's child and the economist's
child were in the third grade together, and the teacher asked, "If one man with
one shovel can dig a ditch in ten days, how long would it take ten men with ten
shovels to dig the same ditch?" Both children raised their hands.
The teacher said to the mathematician's child,
"Johnny, how long?" and little Johnny v. said, "One day, teacher."
The teacher looked at the economist's child
and said, "John Maynard, is that right?"
Little John Maynard said, "Teacher, it all
Most of the following jokes were forwarded to
me by Russell Gum to whom I owe a big thanks.
"Having a house economist became for many
business people something like havinga resident astrologer for the royal court:
I don't quite understand what this fellow is saying but there must be something
to it." Linden. (Jan. 11, 1993). Dreary Days in the Dismal Science. Forbes. Pp.
The following joke is a joint invention of
Preston McAfee, Phil Reny and several so far anonymous writers.
Why God Never Received Tenure at the
1. Because he had only one major publication.
2. And it was in Hebrew.
3. And it had no cited references.
4. And it wasn't published in a refereed journal
or even submitted for peer review.
5. And some even doubt he wrote it himself.
6. It may be true that he created the world but
what has he done since?
7. His cooperative efforts have been quite
8. The scientific community has had a very rough
time trying to replicate his results.
9. He never applied to the Ethics Board for
permission to use human subjects.
10. When one experiment went awry, he tried to
cover it up by drowning the subjects.
11. When subjects didn't behave as predicted, he
often punished them, or just deleted them from the sample.
12. He rarely came to class, just told students
to read the book.
13. He had his son teach the class.
14. He expelled his first two students for
15. Although there were only ten requirements,
most students failed his tests.
16. His office hours were infrequent and usually
held on a mountain top.
A sure fire way to determine if someone is an
economist: Ask the suspect "what's the difference between ignorance and
indifference?" If the reply is "I don't know and I don't care" you can be pretty
sure its an economist. Now the only question is what to do with him.
If an economist and an IRS agent were both drowning and you could only save
one of them, would you go to lunch or read the paper?
The National Institute of Health (NIH) announced that they were going to
start using economists instead of rats in their experiments. Naturally, the
American Agricultural Economics Association was outraged and filed suit, but NIH
presented some compelling reasons for the switch:
1) NIH lab assistants become very attached to
their rats. This emotional involvement was interfering with the research being
conducted. No such attachment could form for an economist.
2) Economists breed faster.
3) Economists are much cheaper to care for and
PETA won't object regardless of the experiment.
4) There are some things even rats won't do.
However, it is difficult to extrapolate test
results to human beings.
How many economists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
1. Just one, but it really gets screwed.
2. One to prepare the proposal, an econometrician
to run the model, one each MS and PhD students to write the theses and
dissertations, two more to prepare the journal article (senior authorship not
assigned), four to review it, and at least as many to refine the model and
replicate the results.
Why do economists carry their diplomas on their dashboards?
So they can park in the (morally/intellectually)
A guy walks into a DC curio shop. While browsing he comes across an exquisite
brass rat. "What a great gag gift" he thinks to himself. After dickering with
the shop keeper over the price, the man purchases the rat and leaves. As he's
walking down the street, he hears scurrying noises behind him. Stopping and
looking around, he sees hundreds, then thousands of rats pouring out of the
alleys and stairwells into the street behind him. In a panic he runs down the
street with the rats not far behind. The street ends at a pier; he runs to the
end of the pier and heaves the brass rat into the Potomac. All of the rats
scurry past him into the river where they drown. After breathing a sigh of
relief and wiping his brow, the man heads back to the curio shop, finds the shop
keeper and asks, "Do you have any brass economists?"
TEN THINGS TO DO WITH A GRADUATE ECONOMICS TEXTBOOK
1. Press pretty flowers.
2. Press pretty insects.
3. Use it as paper weight on your already
4. Leave out in obvious places to impress
5. Mail to the White House as an intimidation
6. Give it a walk-on part in a boring European
7. Just throw the damn thing away.
8. Leave out for the rain and other forces of
nature to reckon with.
9. Read it (ha ha ha), and weep.
10. Get a refund from bookstore so you can buy
weekend's beer supply.
How can you tell when an economist is lying?
His lips are moving.
Why won't sharks attack economists?
Q: What do you get when you cross the Godfather with an economist?
A: An offer you can't understand.
Q: How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Hell, you need a whole department of them
just to prepare the research grant.
They say that Christopher Columbus was the first economist. When he left to
discover America, he didn't know where he was going. When he got there he didn't
know where he was. And it was all done on a government grant.
A grade school teacher was asking students what their parents did for a
living. "Tim, you be first. What does your mother do all day?"
Tim stood up and proudly said, "She's a doctor."
"That's wonderful. How about you, Amy?"
Amy shyly stood up, scuffed her feet and said, "My
father is a mailman."
"Thank you, Amy" said the teacher. "What does
your parent do, Billy?"
Billy proudly stood up and announced,
1. "Nothing. He's an economist."
2. "My daddy plays piano in a whorehouse." The
teacher was aghast and went to Billy's house and rang the bell. Billy's father
answered the door. The teacher explained what his son had said and demanded an
explanation. Billy's dad said, "I'm actually an economist. How can I explain a
thing like that to a seven-year-old?"
A Berkeley economist died and went to heaven (No, that's not the joke). There
were thousands of people ahead of him in line to see St. Peter. To his surprise,
St. Peter left his desk at the gate and came down the long line to where the
economist was, and greeted him warmly. St. Peter took the economist up to the
front of the line, and into a comfortable chair by his desk. The economist said,
"I like all this attention, but what makes ME so special?" St. Peter replied, "Well,
I've added up all the hours for which you billed your consultation clients, and
by my calculation you're 193 years old!"
A Chicago economist died in poverty and many local futures traders donated to
a fund for his funeral. The president of (the Merc, the Board of Trade, etc.)
was asked to donate a dollar. "Only a buck?" said the president, "only a dollar
to bury an economist? Here's a check; go bury 1000 of them."
An economist and a physician had a dispute over precedence. They referred it
to Diogenes, who gave it in favor of the economist as follows: "Let the thief go
first, and the executioner follow."
What's the difference between mathematics and economics?
Mathematics is incomprehensible; economics
just doesn't make any sense.
A judge was hearing a drunk-driving case and the defendant, who had both a
record and a reputation for driving under the influence, demanded a jury trial.
It was nearly 4 p.m. and getting a jury would take time, so the judge called a
recess and went out in the hall looking to empanel anyone available. He found a
dozen economists and told them that they were a jury. The economists thought
this would be a novel experience (none had ever been at a trial before, except
as a defendent or an expert witness) and followed the judge into the courtroom.
The trial was over in about 10 minutes and it was very clear that the defendant
was guilty. The jury went into the jury-room, the judge started getting ready to
go home, and everyone waited. After three hours, the judge sent the bailiff into
the jury- room to see what was holding up the verdict. When the bailiff returned,
the judge said, "Well, have they arrived at a verdict yet?" The bailiff shook
his head and said, "Verdict? Hell, Judge, they're still doing nominating
speeches for the foreman's position!"
For three years, the young assistant professor took his vacations at a
country inn. He had an affair with the innkeeper's daughter. Looking forward to
an exciting few days, he dragged his suitcase up the stairs of the inn, then
stopped short. There sat his lover with an infant on her lap! "Why didn't you
write when you learned you were pregnant?" he cried. "I would have rushed up
here, we could have gotten married, and the child would have my name!" "Well,"
she said, "when my folks found out about my condition, we sat up all night
talkin' and talkin' and we finally decided it would be better to have a bastard
in the family than an economist."
Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, a practical economist, and an old drunk are
walking down the street together when they simultaneously spot a hundred dollar
bill. Who gets it? The old drunk, of course, the other three are mythological
A Harvard economist had a summer house in the Maine woods. Each summer he'd
invite a different friend (no, that's not the punch line) to spend a week or two.
On one occasion, he invited a Czechoslovakian to stay with him. They had a
splendid time in the country - rising early and living in the great outdoors.
Early one morning they went out to pick berries for their morning breakfast. As
they went around the berry patch along came two huge bears. The economist dashed
for cover. His friend wasn't so lucky and the male bear reached him and
swallowed him whole. The economist ran back to his car, drove to town as fast
has he could, and got the sheriff. The sheriff grabbed his rifle and dashed back
to the berry patch with the economist. Sure enough, both bears were still there.
"He's in THAT one!" cried the economist, pointing to the male. The sheriff
looked at the bears, and without batting an eye, leveled his gun, took careful
aim, and SHOT THE FEMALE. "Whatd'ya do that for?!" exclaimed the economist, "I
said he was in the other!" "Yep," said the sheriff, "and would YOU believe a
economist who told you that the Czech was in the Male?"
1. Any person with a valid Washington DC
hunting license or a Federal Income Tax Return may harvest government economists.
2. Taking of economists with traps or deadfalls
is permitted. The use of currency as bait is prohibited.
3. Killing of economists with a vehicle is
prohibited. If one is accidentally struck, remove the dead economist to side of
the road and proceed to the nearest car wash.
4. It is unlawful to chase, herd, or harvest
economists from limousines, Mercedes Benz's, the Metro, or Porsches.
5. It shall be unlawful to shout "research
contract" or "I need a policy consultant" for the purpose of trapping economists.
6. It shall be unlawful to hunt economists within
100 feet of government buildings.
7. It shall be unlawful to use decision memos,
draft legislation, conference reports, or RFP's to attract economists.
8. It shall be unlawful to hunt economists within
200 feet of Senate or House hearing rooms, libraries, whorehouses, massage
parlors, special interest group offices, bars, or strip joints.
9. If an economist is elected to government
office, it shall be a felony to hunt, trap, or possess it. It will also be a
10. Stuffed or mounted economists must have a DC
Health Department inspection certificate for rabies and vermin.
11. It shall be illegal for a hunter to disguise
as a reporter, drug dealer, pimp, female congressional aid, sheep, legislator,
policy maker, bookie, lobbyist, or tax accountant for the purpose of hunting
Given 1000 economists, there will be 10
theoretical economists with different theories on how to change the light bulb
and 990 empirical economists laboring to determine which theory is the *correct*
one, and everyone will still be in the dark.