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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 78-79 of Paul Krugman’s 1995 article “The Illusion of Conflict in International Trade,” as it is reprinted in Krugman’s superb 1996 collection, Pop Internationalism:

As far as I can tell, the attitude of policy-minded intellectuals to economics is pretty much unique.  Many people have opinions about legal matters or about defense policy; but they generally accept that a fair amount of specialized knowledge is necessary to discuss these matters intelligently.  Thus a law degree is expected of a commentator on legal affairs, a professional military career or a record of study of military matters is expected of a commentator on defense, and so on.

When it comes to economics, however, and especially international trade, it seems to be generally accepted that there is no specialized knowledge to master.  Lawyers, political scientists, historians cheerfully offer their views on the subject, and often seem quite sure that what the professors have to say – something they are fairly blurry about – is naive and wrong.

See also Frank Knight’s similar observation.