Here he writes about underappreciated economist Eric van den Steen. Tyler is right, Eric van den Steen is underappreciated. His work is fresh and creative and he is venturing into terrain (heterogenous priors) where few dare to tread. Not only that but he is drawing out credible applied ideas from there, not just philosophy. (Ran Spiegler and Kfir Eliaz are two others that come to mind with the same creativity and courage to embrace these models.)
Tyler Cowen is under-appreciated. Not as a blogger of course, he writes the most popular blog in economics and one of the most popular blogs full stop. It may sound strange, especially to readers of Marginal Revolution, but Tyler Cowen is an under-appreciated economist.
But we all read Marginal Revolution. And we all know that Tyler is smarter, broader, more knowledgeable, more intuitive than most of us and our colleagues. If he wanted it to, his CV could run circles around ours. I don’t claim to know why he doesn’t want that, but I infer that Tyler believes he is innovating a new way to be a successful and influential economist without compromising on the very high standards that those of us in the old regime hold.
Public signals like Google scholar cites, and top-journal publications can’t measure his contribution to economics but we measure it privately every day when we read Marginal Revolution. And it deserves to be made public: Tyler Cowen is a great economist.
One doesn’t just accidentally know who Eric van den Steen is, let alone be able to summarize in a paragraph his contribution and its relation to the literature. I barely knew who he was and its my job as a member of Northwestern’s recruiting committees to know. For Tyler Cowen to be able to pick him out of the very many young economists and identify him as the most under-appreciated reveals that Tyler Cowen knows and reads every economist. I believe it is true.
And he understands them better than most of us. Look at what he wrote about Dale Mortensen. And the Mortensen-Pissarides model. Here’s Tyler re-arranging the literature on sticky prices, trade, and monetary policy. His piece on free parking shows a mastery of the lost art of price theory, whether or not you agree with his final conclusion. Look at his IO reading list for crying out loud. Finally, set aside an hour and watch him in his element speaking at Google about incentives and prizes.
So hail T-Cow! Wunder-(not)-kind!