Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

EJW Section Descriptions

Comments

The primary content of EJW will be Comments on articles appearing in economics journals since 1990. A Comment criticizes an article’s assumptions, reasoning, claims of relevance, omissions, or conclusions. Authors are encouraged to use their knowledge of institutions to expose the limitations of articles in major journals. EJW welcomes replications or evaluations of the replicability of empirical work published in major journals.

Once a Comment has been provisionally accepted, it is “frozen” and sent to the commented-on authors, who are invited to Reply. We try to accommodate side-by-side publication, but sometimes because of publication constraints the Reply must follow in a subsequent issue.

We reserve the right to cancel the entire exchange after hearing back from the commented-on authors, treating their Reply as a negative referee report. When we wish to proceed with publication (much the norm), the commented-on authors are guaranteed publication exactly as they wish their Reply to appear (subject to formatting etc.).

Where no Reply appears, it is because the commented-on authors have thus far declined to reply; the invitation remains open. If we feel that the commented-on authors should have replied but did not, we might bring attention to their failure in Sounds of Silence.

In cases where a Reply has been furnished, the interlocutors may be encouraged to a second-round of exchange. The commented-on authors are afforded the last word.

Do Economists Reach a Conclusion?

This section reports on whether economists who have published a judgment on a specific policy issue reach the same conclusion, at least in terms of the proper direction for reform. Such economists are more accountable for their judgments than those responding anonymously to a survey or yapping at the lunch table.

Papers have addressed drug prohibition, postal services, occupational licensing, medical licensing, taxi deregulation, rail transit, highway pricing, rent control, sports subsidies, municipal recycling, and free-banking history. EJW welcomes proposals for papers on other policy issues.

Economics in Practice

One way to understand academic economics is to examine the behavior of economists. Papers in this section will investigate whether economists speak to the public, believe in what they are doing, seriously test their ideas, develop theories or merely build models, and relate their findings to significant issues. Paper proposals are welcome.

Intellectual Tyranny of the Status Quo

Many fields of economics are focused on status quo policies and institutions. In deciding its focus economic analysis has always faced a tension between the desirable and the politically feasible. Does it make sense for economists to talk about desirable policies that are far beyond the 40 yard lines of practical political discourse?

We publish investigations by field to see whether thinking gets beyond status quo policy alternatives. Papers have treated agricultural economics, development economics, the economics of the FDA, public economics and geo-rent taxation, monetary history and the Fed, and Argentina’s monetary institutions. We seek authors to write further on those fields as well as about international finance, environmental economics, defense economics, science policy economics, public economics, and health economics. We welcome suggestions for other fields.

Investigating the Apparatus

Are the systems of validation in academic economics well aligned with the public interest? Does doing well in economics mean doing good? The economics of economics requires investigating the institutional apparatus of economics. We have published papers on monetary economists’ ties to the Fed, development economists’ ties to development agencies, the Social Science Citation Index, the National Research Council, the pyramidal structure of departments by PhD pedigree, and women’s standing in the economics profession. We welcome proposals on other topics.

Character Issues

Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses or avoids.

Aristotle, Rhetoric, I

The characters of men, as well as the contrivances of art, or the institutions of civil government, may be fitted either to promote or to disturb the happiness both of the individual and of the society.

Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments

Essays and investigations in this section explore the characters of economists.

Watchpad

This section accommodates reflections and experimental scholarship, in the sense of off-beat or just not fitting neatly into one of the thematic sections. Material in this section is not necessarily externally refereed, but is accepted by at least two of the editors (who are not among the paper’s authors).