out of the weeds …

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sharing a concern is the first step. it’s natural to disagree on the next and some may want to step back. fine, even macro folks get that the Representative Agent is a simplification, not a reality.

my last post was more feeling than fact. but I study economic beliefs (ab, c) enough to not apologize for being subjective. even so, it’s hard to explain why I was disappointed by Blanchard or hurt by silly comments. not sure but I don’t feel the need to justify myself or ask you to agree.

I’m more focused what might make things a little better. I got many kind comments in the past week even a thank-you note in the mail! I will never turn down happy but I wrote my post from a good place. I capped off ten years of policy work last Friday, am starting as a section chief on Monday, plus lots of good life stuff.

so why then such a gloomy post? I think our words and culture matter for the quality of our work … and it’s going to take a real effort to move us out of this bad equilibrium. pretty sure each of my quotables in my last post could give me back something much worse said to them. and those are men. I cringe when I hear the stories from senior women in econ (okay and from some junior women) and from people of color. come on folks, this is not okay and it’s hurting the economics. caring should not be an occupational hazard.

on the happy flip side, words matter so we can all do something. I was fortunate to have heard many positives, from folks who believed in teaching and encouraging me. and were funny and good hearted. often the support came in the form of a “you can do better” and was wrapped in lots (and lots) of editing. so many ways to build up an economist and the new ones need it most.

but it’s more than words, in my opinion. a culture of bullying and aggression doesn’t just happen. we can all be jerks but when bad behavior and excess stress are tolerated (and in some cases celebrated), this culture spreads like a weed. if we’re not careful our weeds will choke out the good stuff.

PS I was unpacking some boxes recently and came across this letter … made me smile, Joan Robinson. as I said, lots of ways to encourage the next generation.

Author: Claudia Sahm

economist – my views here are my own