Tuesday, 5 May 2009


Arnold Kling has been working out a statement of the central tenets of Masonomics.
1. Incentives matter. That is central to economics. It also is important for political economy--Masonomics uses public choice, which says that government officials, rather than acting as benevolent omniscient stewards, respond to incentives.

2. Signaling matters. It matters in education, health care, finance, politics, marketing, and personal relationships. I would suggest that if there is to be a Masonomics perspective on macro, then signaling should be central.

3. Institutions matter. Formal and informal rules shape economic behavior, for better or worse. For example, differences across countries in the standard of living are determined largely by institutions.

4. Evolution matters. When others see a lack of planning or central direction as chaos, Masonomists see Hayek's spontaneous order. A system of decentralized trial-and-error decisions works better than many people realize. Central regulation works less well than many people expect.
Previous iterations of the central tenets included the call to "lose the we"; he's also pondered writing a book on the topic.

I'm pretty happy to call myself a Masonomist under those definitions, especially since I'm a George Mason guy, but why limit ourselves with labels? There's good economics and bad economics, and we're more likely to see good economics where the work's been informed by due consideration of the points listed above.


  1. By those statements most economists would be Masonomic. So I'm not sure where they get you.

  2. That's what I said: good economics and bad economics.... I'm sure you can think of notable counterexamples though.