It’s no wonder they need to set new ethical guidelines for academic economists who want to publish. They’ve been captured by business interests.
Ok, so I’m a geek, what can I say. But that was the first thing I thought of when I saw this: On the Capture of Economists
At its annual meeting this week, the American Economic Association adopted a new set of ethical guidelines requiring economists to disclose funding sources and other potential conflicts of interest when they publish papers, and urging them to do the same when they make public comments. The aim: Combat the perception that academic economists have been captured by the industries they study.
Judging from a presentation by Luigi Zingales, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, the economics profession has its work cut out for it. Economists, he notes, face pressures similar to those that have led to capture of regulators by the industries they’re supposed to regulate. Academics often depend on the business community for the data they need to do their research, for the consulting gigs and board appointments that pad their salaries and for the contributions that keep their departments running. Also, in order to publish the papers that make their careers, they commonly face the scrutiny of editors who themselves are positively disposed toward the interests of business.
Tightening the screws on the corporate control of academia can only be a good thing.