Ordinarily, I don’t care much for the Journal of Economic Literature, the American Economic Association’s periodical selection of survey articles and book reviews. But the September 2008 issue is excellent. If any diligent commenters can find links to any of the articles, please report them.The survey articles are:
–Jonathan Gruber on covering the uninsured
–Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessman on cognitive skills and economic development
–Peter Temin on real business cycle models of the Great Depression
–Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde reviewing Ray Fair’s latest book on macroeconometric modeling
–Clifford Winston reviewing a book on the perils and promise of transparency, about consumer protection using disclosure laws.

Gruber writes,

Massachusetts recently enacted legislation that transforms the nature of the insurance market…This is truly a comprehensive reform that brings the state as close to universal coverage as anywhere in the United States.

He fails to mention the fact that the Massachusetts plan has been a disappointment. Nor does he mention his own deep involvement in the plan, which might affect his objectivity in the matter.

The paper I really wish I could link to is Fernandez-Villa Verde. His section 3 is subtitled “Death,” referring to several powerful criticisms of macroeconometric models that emerged in the 1970’s and 1980’s. These influenced me greatly. I think that what has happened with the economics profession since then has been an interesting example of self-selection. Economists like me, who took the critiques seriously and decided that empirical macro is fraught, left the macro field. Economists who stayed in the field did so in spite of the critiques.

So there is this unique professional divide regarding macroeconometrics. I mean, I am not a labor economist, but that is not because I don’t believe in labor economics. On the other hand, the reason that I am not a macroeconometrician is that I don’t believe in what they are doing.