For more economists caught in the act of navel gazing, check out The Economist‘s forum on the question of whether economists need a professional code of ethics.
If you want some background, the urge for a code of ethics came about something like this:
Since the end of 2008, economists have been professionally embarrassed by the financial crisis and associated recession, and didn’t people expect us to have answers, and by-the-way why didn’t we predict this in advance and prevent it from happening and stuff. So now economists are having low esteem which is bad for us, and we know it is bad which makes us feel worse. Anyway, us economists were all sitting around feeling sorry for our sorry state, and down in the dumps.
Suddenly one of us economists jumps up and says, “Hey, let’s put on a show!” And then another one jumps up and says, “Yeah, we’ve gotta have a great show, with a million laughs… and color… and a lot of lights to make it sparkle. And songs – wonderful songs. And after we get the people in that hall, we’ve gotta start em in laughing right away.”
And then all of us economists were getting excited and exuberant and feeling our animal spirits again until one guy calls out, “But what are we gonna call our show?” And for a moment we was stumped, but then came the answer from the crowd, ringing forth clear as the “The Opening BellSM” at the start of trading at the NYSE: “A professional code of ethics for economists.”
So there you have it. And you’ve got to admit, it is a title that will start em laughing right away.