Economics is the science of choice. The job of economists is to take away the punch bowl just when the party gets going. It’s perhaps the only field where, the more they get it wrong, the more their services are in demand – perverse incentives on a grand scale.
In Ireland, the Minister for Public Expenditure has announced that his department will be hiring economists to support its work. Around the same time, Richard Tol resigned from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) to take a post at the University of Sussex. As s he packed his bags, with a series of interviews and tweets, he left a characteristic trail of trenchant and indiscriminate criticism of the ESRI and how it works. This conjunction of events raises the question: what qualities should the department look for?