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One of the most distinguishing features of economics as a field of study is the complete failure of economists to learn from their many mistakes.  In science and engineering, theories and design practices are constantly subjected to the acid test of whether they match observed real-world phenomena.  In science and engineering, theories and design practices are not judged on the basis of their c

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A few weeks ago the careers - and salaries - of Richard "Whistling Dick" Wright and Hank "The Hammer" Paulson were compared.  Whistling Dick was a mule-skinner and played a significant role in bringing water to Los Angeles.  "The Hammer" was educated at Dartmouth and Harvard, and became CEO of the world's largest investment bank, Goldman Sachs.  It was shown that in spite of his humble salary a

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When economics began as an independent field of study, it was virtually devoid of mathematics and charts.  Economists were considered moral philosophers; not mathematicians or scientists.  This began to change with the work of John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s, and now an economics textbook looks a lot like a physics textbook.  This relatively new, mathematics-laden version of economics is compl

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From an economic standpoint, the most remarkable thing to observe is all the attention afforded to the Fed's Open Market Committee (FOMC) immediately before they announce their interest rate policy.  For example, CNBC will assemble several "experts" to discuss what the FOMC should do and why they should do it.  Among these experts are people like Jim Cramer, Austan Goolsbee, Steve Liesman and J

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The move "Goodfellas" captures many of the details of the December 1978 robbery of the Lufthansa cargo terminal at New York's Kennedy Airport.  One of the subtle details not fully developed was the robbery was only made possible because of the enormous gambling debts owed by a Lufthansa employee, Louis Werner, to a mob-connected bookmaker, Martin Krugman.  In the movie there is a scene where th

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