Coase and Wang are starting a new journal, with an overwrought (but unavoidable) theme

Slightly old news, but I just came across it. From an interview by Nick Shultz: "We are now working with the University of Chicago Press to launch a new journal, Man and the Economy. We chose our title carefully to signal the mission of the new journal, which is to restore economics to a study of man as he is and of the economy as it actually exists."

I look forward to the project. However, this way of putting it always bothers me. Why the hell do they think we all got interested in economics in the first place? Because it was "a study of man as he is" and "of the economy as it actually is"!

This sort of critique gets tired, IMO. Pretty much every economist makes this claim for their work in one way or another. I am restoring economics to a study of human social behavior as it actually is! Those people over there are just playing with unrealistic models! I'm getting to the real thing!

Seriously - can you think of a single economist that doesn't raise this banner over their work? Name me one that doesn't genuinely think this is what they are doing. Maybe the economics equivalent of the machine tool industry (econometricians, etc.) - but even they're building those tools in service of people who are "restoring economics to the study of man as he is".

I don't take Coase too seriously (yikes... that was agonizing to write) when I read this. I've read similar statements too many times before. Everyone thinks this.

I read this statement as saying "Human society is complex and multifaceted. It's hard to take into account everything you'd want to take into account. There are some things I wish people would focus on more and some things I wish they'd focus on less. I'm starting a journal that's going to feature things I wish they'd talk about more and it will reject papers about 'man as he is' that happen to focus on things that I don't want to focus on".

That is not as dramatic, but it's still intriguing. After all, Coase is brilliant. This mission statement would suffice for me. I'd love to get better acquainted with things that Coase thinks are important to focus on. He certainly hasn't disappointed in the past.

As for "restoring economics"... meh.

Self-appointed restorationists ought to be taken with a grain of salt, even if they're Ronald Coase.