Commentary

How smart are models?

Economic models fall into two broad genres. Macroeconomic models, the distant descendants of Phillips’s machine, belong mostly in central banks. They capture the economy’s ups and downs, providing a compass for the folks with their hands on the monetary tiller. The second species, known as computable general equilibrium (CGE) models, largely ignore the vagaries of the business cycle. They concentrate instead on the underlying structure of production, shedding light on the long-term repercussions of such things as the Doha trade round, a big tax reform or climate change.

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.