I’ve been flicking back over some posts by Robin Hanson at Overcoming Bias and came across this one about judging the reliability of macroeconomists’ advice:
It turns out that many macro economists frequently forecast future macro events. Furthermore, many places keep standardized track records of such forecasts, records that can be compared for accuracy; we can compare the accuracy of such folks!
. . .
Alas, it turns out that there is almost no overlap between the macro-economists who are considered the most prestigious and those who even publish forecasts.
I can understand wanting to rely on the economist with the best track record for ordinary forecasting, but is there a difference in the current climate? The current crisis was not predicted by many economists. Most did not forecast the extent of the problems. In extraordinary circumstances do the heuristics used by forecasters fail to predict the future as accurately? Is it possible that someone who specialises in studying structural models of the economy, rather than developing forecasting heuristics, might have a greater insight into what’s going on? Could those people be the prestigious academics on whose every word people seem to hang these days?
I’d be interested to know what forecasters think of Hanson’s idea.