Monday, October 10, 2011

Wisdom and brevity from a new Nobel laureate

One of the winners of the Nobel Prize in economics, Thomas Sargent of New York University, gave a speech in 2007 to graduating economics students at UC-Berkeley.  It was both wise and brief.  In it, he listed 12 valuable lessons from economics, which he called "organized common sense."  Here are the first five:
1. Many things that are desirable are not feasible.
2. Individuals and communities face trade-offs.
3. Other people have more information about their abilities, their efforts, and their preferences than you do.
4. Everyone responds to incentives, including people you want to help. That is why social safety nets don’t always end up working as intended.
5. There are tradeoffs between equality and efficiency.
Here's the whole thing.