Discipline-Based Policy Advice

24 August 2009 at 11:56 am 1 comment

| Peter Klein |

As noted before, the economist long ago replaced the fortune teller as the most popular kind of policy adviser. The US, for example, has a Council of Economic Advisers but no Council of Anthropological Advisers or Council of Critical Literary Theorist Advisers (thank goodness). Now the sociologists want a piece of the action. And, as Rajshree Agarwal, Jay Barney, Nicolai, and I have argued, management scholars (a partially overlapping set with economists, it should be noted) may also have something to offer in understanding the current economic mess.

Here’s Richard Posner making a pitch for legal scholars: “with a few notable exceptions, such as Lucian Bebchuk, Edward Morrison, and Steven Schwarcz, academic lawyers (and Bebchuk and Morrison have Ph.Ds in economics, as well as law degrees) have not made a contribution to the understanding and resolution of the current economic crisis, even though it bristles with legal questions.” But he isn’t sure that academic legal training is currently very useful. Kenneth Anderson is more optimistic:

I think that legal academics will have much to contribute in the reform of finance in the remaking of institutions and markets with fewer panglossian assumptions about how they will find optimal solutions on their own, and with fewer panglossian assumptions that they will do so as a matter of natural necessity. But I also think, even more strongly, and will raise it in some subsequent posts, that lawyers will bring to the table an understanding of the unquantified risks and uncertainties that are written into financial contracts — derivatives, securitizations, etc. — that financial analysts, economists, many other non-lawyer actors, took for granted as not having any effect.

Who else wants a seat at the table?

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Education, Public Policy / Political Economy.

Idea for Historical Law and Economics Thesis A Hopeful Sign

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Bill  |  26 August 2009 at 1:04 pm

    I was at a conference this past weekend, and overheard someone say “things would be better if lawyers ran everything.”

    To which I replied “lawyers do run everything.”

    The only respose he could muster was “touche’.”

    I mean, hasn’t society already been over-run with the panglossian assumption that a new law or two will fix everything?

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