Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I meant to spend the summer reading a lot of economic papers, but so far I've only been reading a lot of novels. I am a crazy person for fiction, a total glutton for prose. I often go through several books per week.

I would like to believe that, somehow, my obsession with stories and fiction will be useful for an economics career. I don't mean this in a tongue-in-cheek, "oh, economists make up stories" way. I really think that a deep appreciation for the subtleties of a fine plot corresponds well to desirable qualities for an economist.

There is no explicit formula for a good story, but it must strike a very delicate balance to be neither too predictable nor too unbelievable. Good stories have interesting twists and interconnections without feeling too contrived or resorting to deus ex machina. Good stories don't divulge too much or too little. They are the right blend of introspective and extrospective. They tend to reveal both something specific and something more universal. They cast the world or some part of it in a new lens. They give you satisfaction but deepen your yearning. Is it too far of a stretch to hope that the ability to recognize, admire, and immensely enjoy such features of a story will translate into being a good economist?

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