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We criticize an American Economic Review article that presents itself as a theory of design innovation and fashion cycles. Scrutinizing the model and surrounding prose, we suggest that the article does not make clear what it is that it purports to explain, and that the story of the model fails minimal requirements of factual relevance and intuitiveness. Our broader message is that many “theory” papers are best regarded as mere model-building, a genre of creative writing masquerading as science.
Response to this article by Wolfgang Pesendorfer: Response to “Fashion Cycles in Economics” (EJW, December 2004).