I see in one of Jim Manzi old posts he is asking for anyone to come up with 14 non-obvious empirically verified and useful rules made by economists.

I believe each one of these represents a prediction of the economics community that was at odds with the conventional wisdom at the time.

  1. The price and quantity of objects sold are determined jointly by the desires of buyers and costs of sellers.
  2. Holding the price constant of a object that becomes more desired will result in fewer people obtaining that object than if the price were left free to float.
  3. The wages of workers in a free market are determined by the amount the marginal worker produces not the average.
  4. If a set of producers specializes in what each can produce relatively not absolutely most cheaply, the total value of production will rise.
  5. An increase in the mass of citizenry will not lead to an increase in the proportional mass of the unemployed.
  6. The total flow of services available to the community cannot, in general, be increased by destroying some stock of assets. I.E. one cannot raise general living standards by breaking glass to give work to the glass maker.
  7. A valuable, storable and costly to extract resource will last longer than current extraction rates divided by known reserves implies.
  8. The contagion rate of sexually transmitted diseases will fall as the disease becomes more widespread. IE, there is decreasing marginal infectibility.
  9. Increasing the supply of medicine and vaccines to a preindustrial society will cause living standards to fall.
  10. Requiring increased training to practice a profession will cause the price of the service to rise more than amortized the cost of the training.
  11. Permitting the construction of more expensive high-rise buildings will cause rents to fall.
  12. The expansion of heavy industry will cause wages for service workers to rise.
  13. Under the same economic regime poorer countries will tend to grow faster than richer ones.
  14. Competitive profit seeking organizations will produce products more greatly desired by consumers, at lower costs, than universalist benevolent organizations.

This is fourteen off the top of my head. I tried to think of areas where there was active pushback from the public not simply areas that the public hadn’t considered since then “obviousness” would be at stake.

However, I would point out that modern insurance and finance are descended from economics in much the same way that modern phrama and tech are descended from biology and physics. I am not sure if you want to call business analytics a joint child of econometrics and pure statistics but my sense in pursuing job application a few years back was that for Commercial Analytics researchers the criteria was Ph.D. in applied statistics or econometrics.

But a key point to remember in all of this is that economics is not business analytics for government. For example Manzi says

OK, please state the rules developed by economics that can actually make useful, reliable and non-obvious predictions about the result of alternative proposed courses of government action on the issues of the day

Yet, this is not what economics or any other science does. More or less scientists investigate things that are interesting to them. What Manzi seems to be asking here is “why isn’t there better policy engineering.”

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