You might be an economist if…

  • …if you listen to radio static because it is non-stationary. (Pavel Yakovlev, Duquesne University)
  • …if you count as employed those called “a piece of work”. (Pavel Yakovlev, Duquesne University)
  • …if your first association for Chicken Alfredo is Vilfredo Pareto. (Pavel Yakovlev, Duquesne University)
  • …if your wedding proposal includes an estimation of expected present value, or if your wedding vows include a discussion of gains from trade. (Justin Cress, Univ of Kentucky)
  • …every November you celebrate Day of the Deadweight Loss. (Cyril Morong, San Antonio College)
  • …you think every episode of Law and Order could be resolved with the Prisoners’ Dilemma. (Adapted from anonymous)
  • …you have a bumper sticker that says “I’m an economist so I don’t vote.”
  • …your strongest association for the word “laid” is the word “off”, your strongest association for the word “scoring” is the word “budget”, and your strongest association for the words “sex” and “dummy” is “variable”.
  • …you don’t believe there is a Free Lunch but you do believe in Free Trade. (Ken Heyer, U.S. Dept. of Justice Anti-Trust Divison)
  • …if, upon forgetting a phone number, you decide to estimate it. (Phil Bastow, Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, UK)
  • …you see a dollar bill on the street and don’t pick it up, because if it were a real dollar bill, someone else would have already picked it up. (Moshe Kranc, with many historical antecedents)
  • …your idea of a romantic evening is cuddling up with your honey and a bowl of popcorn to watch “A Beautiful Mind,” then engaging in hot and heavy discourse about why the bar scene solution is not a pure strategy Nash equilibrium. (Elaina Rose, University of Washington)
  • …you think that the slow foot of government can catch up with an invisible hand. (Carl Dahlman, Pentagon)
  • …you’ve ever had a serious debate about whether a physicist or a chemist could actually open canned food without a can opener. (David Tabak, NERA)
  • … you refer to a large job you sent to the printer as increasing the demand, and thus the equilibrium quantity, of trees. (David Tabak, NERA)
  • …you refuse to sell your children because you think they’ll be worth more later.
  • …you’ve ever gone to a bank or other financial institution in the hopes of getting a date.
  • …you’re an expert on money but you dress like a flood victim (adapted from this Dilbert cartoon from Sept 1, 1994)
  • …you watch “America’s Next Top Model” and vote for Cournot. (Ken Heyer, U.S. Dept. of Justice Anti-Trust Divison)
  • …you can translate plain English into incomprehensible gibberish.
  • …you think that “supply and demand” is a good answer to the question, “Where do babies come from?”
  • …you plan to have your children born in December instead of January in order to maximize the discounted present value of the child tax credit.
  • …you understood that last joke. (Bonus points if you can cite Stacy Dickert-Conlin and Amitabh Chandra, 1999, “Taxes and the Timing of Births”, JPE 107:161-77, or similar work from fellow UW grad JT Huang’s doctoral dissertation.)
  • …you think the best evidence of global warming is not that every year the snows melt earlier or that every year the flowers bloom earlier but that every year the Christmas shopping season starts earlier.
  • …taxes piss you off because they’re so inefficient.
  • …you read your fortune cookie at a Chinese restaurant and put “at the margin” at the end of it. (If you don’t understand this one and can’t find an under-30 American to ask about it, just think to yourself: “It’s about computers.”)
  • …any of the following phrases has ever come to mind in a romantic situation: “joint utility maximization”, “not tonight, honey, I have an externality”, “diminishing marginal product of labor”.
  • …you’ve spent your whole career at a university or other public sector job talking about how great the private sector is.
  • …you can’t give blood because your veins are full of motor oil and little bits of endangered species.
  • …you’ve ever written a romance novel that included the following paragraph: “I put my left hand on her shoulder. I put my right hand on the small of her back. I put my invisible hand on her thigh.”
  • … you never tip the waitress more than 6.45% because you have a precise understanding of just how our economy can suffer a burst of inflation is she went out to buy new shoes. (Terence Kelley, Nebraska)
  • …you think trust is so bad that you’re anti-trust.
  • …you have tried to convince your friends that “getting your money’s worth” doesn’t apply at all-you-can-eat buffets because it is a sunk cost. (Noreen Templin, Wichita State Univ.)
  • …you have told your husband not to tailgate the slow old lady on the freeway because then he is making an interpersonal utility comparison.(Noreen Templin, Wichita State Univ.)
  • …you go to the hospital at 12:15 a.m. and your son is born at 12:57 a.m. so you don’t have to pay for a day of labor.(Noreen Templin, Wichita State Univ.)
  • …you’re opposed to the death penalty because it’s too expensive.
  • …someone tells you that economics is like a foreign language to them and you respond by speaking slower and raising your voice.

5 responses to “You might be an economist if…”

  1. you don’t watch Law and Order because in every episode the prisoner’s dilema solves every crime.

  2. Here are my submissions:
    …you drive through the red light district and only see unemployment.
    …you have ever used the words “douchebag” and “three way” on the stage at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    …you ever disciplined your children using positive and normative statements.
    …you have a picture of Gordon Gecko in your wallet.
    …you have ever donated to a sperm bank because you wanted to maximize your utility.

  3. Wait, I thought that radio static was a stationary stochastic process?

    If you assume radio static is basically Gaussian white noise, the mean and variance should not change over time.

  4. ….you find abovementioned jokes funny…

  5. Mr. Econ: non-stationary is a play on words. Static implies you cannot hear any stations. Of course static may be stationary noise.

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