Displays dedicated to explaining economics offer marginal returns

ECONOMICS IS THE study of how societies allocate scarce resources. But why let eggheads have all the fun? A museum aiming to bring the discipline to the masses opened in Paris on June 14th. A visit to Citéco offers both seasoned and neophyte dismal scientists a chance to reflect on the field’s importance.

Plenty of central banks run museums of coins and banknotes. The Banque de France, looking to repurpose a branch closed in 2006, had higher ambitions. It aims to “reconcile the French with economics”, as if a lovers’ tiff had driven them apart. That it is housed in a neo-gothic mansion, complete with a moat defending what used to be its underground vault, adds to the mystique.

But it turns out there is a reason why only one other economics museum exists (in Mexico City). Though books in the “Freakonomics” mould have pitched economics as an endeavour that goes beyond GDP estimates and inflation targeting, bringing it to life is hard. Barbs that economics is but the “painful elaboration of the obvious” will resonate with visitors traipsing through gallery after gallery running the gamut of economic actors, from firms to consumers and governments. Exhibits on the Basel Committee and TARGET2 payments will strain to excite the hordes of school pupils Citéco aims to attract.

French statist biases are on display: the...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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