How much power should an economist have? That question is one that leaves many scratching their heads, and not just those who have discovered they are allergic to the down in their pillow. Economists have been getting a bad rap for the recession. Plain and simple, many people have blamed economists for not predicting the chaotic downfall of the housing market. While there were some economists who did indeed hint at the collapse, people are now distrustful of economists' forecasts in general. Not that those people ever set their clocks by them before the recession.
Economists do have the power to form public opinions about policies and influence the government and private industry decision-making. It seems like our original question can only be answered in hindsight. However, there is a joke on the University of Notre Dame's website that can shed a little light on it…
The Hunchback of the University of Notre Dame is nowhere to be seen.
A mathematician and an economist apply for a job. The interviewer asks the mathematician what two plus two equals. The mathematician says four. The interviewer asks the economist the same question. The economist walks over to the door and locks it. He then walks over and closes the shades. He sits back down and asks the interviewer, "What do you want it to equal?"