Ever wish you could commission a quick poll of economic experts to opine on issues of current interest?
Well, you can’t, but we have the next best thing: The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business’s Initiative on Global Markets forum.
What is the “IGM?”
It’s a newly launched online panel that poses serious questions to leading economists in the form of positive assertions on which the economists can vote: Strongly agree, agree, uncertain (meaning I know quite a bit about it and think the evidence is ambiguous), disagree, strongly disagree, or no opinion (as opposed to uncertain, means it’s not an area on which I feel qualified to opine).
In their own words:
This panel explores the extent to which economists agree or disagree on major public policy issues. To assess such beliefs we assembled this panel of expert economists. Statistics teaches that a sample of (say) 40 opinions will be adequate to reflect a broader population if the sample is representative of that population.
To that end, our panel was chosen to include distinguished experts with a keen interest in public policy from the major areas of economics, to be geographically diverse, and to include Democrats, Republicans and Independents as well as older and younger scholars. The panel members are all senior faculty at the most elite research universities in the United States. The panel includes Nobel Laureates, John Bates Clark Medalists, fellows of the Econometric society, past Presidents of both the American Economics Association and American Finance Association, past Democratic and Republican members of the President’s Council of Economics, and past and current editors of the leading journals in the profession. This selection process has the advantage of not only providing a set of panelists whose names will be familiar to other economists and the media, but also delivers a group with impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters.
The full list of participants is here, and it’s uber-distinguished:
- Berkeley: 5
- Chicago: 6
- Harvard: 6
- Institute for Advanced Study: 1
- MIT: 5
- Princeton: 5 (go, team!)
- Stanford: 7
- Yale: 4
What kinds of questions? Here’s the most recent, on healthcare: “There are no consequential distortions created by the tax preference that favors obtaining health insurance through employers.”
As you can see, our experts violently disagree with the assertion, to the tune of 95%.
Other recent questions:
Unless they have inside information, very few investors, if any, can consistently make accurate predictions about whether the price of an individual stock will rise or fall on a given day.
- 95% agree or strongly agree
The Chinese government pursues policies that keep the renminbi’s exchange rate vis à vis the dollar lower than it would be if the currency floated without those policies.
- 73% agree or strongly agree, 10% uncertain, 7% no opinion
Eliminating tax deductions for non-investment personal interest expenses (e.g., on mortgages), with reductions in personal tax rates that are both budget neutral and keep the burden of taxes by income group the same, would lead to more efficient financing decisions by individuals.
- 85% agree or strongly agree, 5% uncertain, 5% disagree
You get the picture.