What Has Economics Ever Done For Us?

REG: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
XERXES: Brought peace.
REG: Oh. Peace? Shut up!
   – Source: Monty Python’s Life of Brian

There is an amusing rejoinder in the letters section of the current issue of Nature to a recent piece there saying that economics needs a “scientific revolution”.

In his Essay ‘Economics needs a scientific revolution’ (Nature 455, 1181; 2008), Jean-Philippe Bouchaud cites the Moon landings as a remarkable achievement of physics and asks, rhetorically, what economics can offer as its flagship achievement. I submit that a society prosperous enough to pay for Moon landings is one such achievement.

Jesper Stage, Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Nicely played, even if a bit over-aggressive in its claims for economics.