Monday, August 20, 2007

Economist's Dress Code

I so like these words of Tyler Cowen in his latest book, on counter-signaling:
At most administrative meetings I refuse to wear a tie. In part I find it the article of clothing physically oppressive. But in part I am showing that I am a tenured academic, and that my salary does not depend very much on the approval of any person in the meeting. I once heard my (former) dean say that a faculty member was not trusted "because he dressed too well." Everyone wondered just who that professor was trying to impress, or what other realm of achievement he was trying to enter. I wonder whether good academic dressers are more interested in political appointment or consulting gigs than in scholarship.
(Discover Your Inner Economist, p. 109)
So when we see a (too) well-dressed faculty member of a Dept Economics here, what can we infer about it? Here is some possible answers:
#1. His/her income depends very much on more non academic activities than in scholarship. Believe me, you don't want to know how much most of Dept of Economics in this country pay their faculty member.
#2. Even worse, his/her scholarship remuneration, appointment, and promotion doesn't depend on academic standard but administrative meetings.
#3. He/she wants to compensate his/her not-so-good academic quality by altering other's attention to his/her fashionable look.
#4. He/she aims for a ministerial post, or any government related high position. Ha!

Or, a more politically safe and simple answer:
#5. He/she knows how to dress well --and has money and manages to find time to do so.

p/s: Aco, I know you are grinning now :-)


  1. Hai Aco, this Pak Thee Kian Wie friend...

  2. Ha...ha...wanna be minister? They should prove their economics abilities first as Aco has. Aco is a best example of economist who hav solid background in economics that Indonesia have. I am sure that Aco would be world class high-calibre economist and not wanna be economist who flourishing department of economics in Indonesia.

  3. Waduh, Pak. That scares me!

  4. David Warsh in his book "Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations", pp. 188 quoted Paul Krugman saying:

    "...I hope that I never forget that it is young economists in blue jeans, not famous officials in pinstripes, who really have interesting things to say."

    thank heavens for jeans!:D

  5. rizal i guess wearing minis in order to make sure some of the students stay alert in class falls as "lousy econ teacher" according to your categories huh?

    well, i don't fucking care... minis are fashionable and i should listen to that call... =D

  6. Ouch. 'Zal, you're in trouble!