Mark Thoma just published an interesting new column in on how the work of economists is changing in The Fiscal Times on how the work of economists is changing.
Thoma states that there is a requirement for “real-time models” that allow economists to assess the current situation and come up with prescriptions on how to handle things. One of his points is that the models typically used simply aren’t built for this kind of analysis. This might seem surprising, but it is a natural consequence of the requirements of academic research (at least for now): carry out a study that takes months or even years and publish the results in a peer-reviewed academic journal. The main source of forward-looking and quasi-“real-time” modeling has been non-academic economists in private institutions and the government.
I find this interesting both in terms of the rich mine of research that needs to be done and perhaps a need to think differently about how we do economics research both in and out of academia.