Academic Economists to Consider Ethics Code

As economists arrive in Denver, Colorado this week to participate in the annual meeting of the American Economics Association, they will be asked to consider an economist’s code of ethics. This effort is discussed in the following New York Times article by Sewell Chan, and highlights the work of Triple Crisis blogger Gerald Epstein as well as a new book by George F. DeMartino, who will author a guest blog on this subject in 2011.

Excerpt from “Academic Economists to Consider Ethics Code,” by Sewell Chan:

“When the Stanford business professor Darrell Duffie co-wrote a book on how to overhaul Wall Street regulations, he did not mention that he sits on the board of Moody’s, the credit rating agency.

As a commentator on the economy, Laura D’Andrea Tyson, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton who teaches in the business school at the University of California, Berkeley, does not usually say that she is a director of Morgan Stanley.

And the faculty Web page of Richard H. Clarida, a Columbia professor who was a Treasury official under President George W. Bush, omits that he is an executive vice president at Pimco, the giant bond fund manager.

Academic economists, particularly those active in policy debates in Washington and Wall Street, are facing greater scrutiny of their outside activities these days. Faced with a run of criticism, including a popular movie, leaders of the American Economic Association, the world’s largest professional society for economists, founded in 1885, are considering a step that most other professions took a long time ago — adopting a code of ethical standards.”

Read the full article at the New York Times.

2 Responses to “Academic Economists to Consider Ethics Code”

  1. Why do many of us trust doctors and not economists? It can not be because of any difference in their professional knowledge, which most of us are incompetent to evaluate.

    I trust my doctor because I know she is working in my best interest. She is subject to an ethics code which I can understand. She has sworn the Hippocratic Oath, including the words primum non nocere: above all, do no harm. She is a fallible human being; she may not always abide by her oath; but she has sworn it.

    Economists are not beholden to doing no harm. They are as free as Dr. Mengele to experiment with our lives. They may know a lot about economics, but so used pirates to do about seamanship.

    An ethics code is badly needed, but to be useful it will have to be easily understandable to laypeople; and the primum non nocere clause must be a part of it.

  2. Great site you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any message boards that cover the same topics talked about here? I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get opinions from other experienced people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks!