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“You’re Not an Economist”

I hear that one a lot.  And rightfully so.  I am not a trained or formal PhD economist.  Sure, I graduated with an undergrad Finance degree and have worked in the belly of the economic beast for a long time, but how could I possibly be smart enough or trained enough to understand how the economy functions or how “real” economists work?  Good question.  There’s a high probability that I am totally unqualified to discuss half the things I discuss.  I am extremely open to criticism.

Then again, as someone with over 15 years of experience in financial and entrepreneurship I would actually argue that I understand the economy and finance better than most economists do. I don’t mean this to cause offense, but many of the most influential economists are just policy wonks and academics who don’t have a lot of real-world experience. They write papers and teach for a living, which is great, but doesn’t necessarily provide you with a sound understanding of how the economy works.

For instance, did you also know that Adam Smith, JM Keynes, Karl Marx and Wynne Godley also had no formal economics training?   Maybe you did.  In which case I am sure you’re probably open-minded enough to know that you don’t necessarily have to have trained in a formal economics program to understand the complexities of economics and make contributions.  Better yet, this might even support the thinking that people from outside the formal economics profession actually approach the world of economics in a way that makes them equally if not more qualified to discuss it.

Of course, none of us are Smith, Keynes, Marx or Godley, but you get the point.  Trying to discredit someone who isn’t a “trained” economist is not an attempt to discredit someone based on the merit of their work, but on the credentials that potentially mean nothing.  It’s like going up to 20 year old Bill Gates and shrugging him off for having no computer science degree.

Anyhow, I am mostly just bookmarking this for the next person who decides to come along and try to discredit me because I didn’t spend 7 years of my life getting a PhD and instead decided to spend 7 years in the real economy actually experiencing how an economy works….A lot of my arguments are wrong and my work might be completely flawed.  But that’s a judgement on the quality of my work, not necessarily the quality of my formal education.  

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