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Interview : Tyler Cowen

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  • Economics

Abstract

Tyler Cowen Interview INTERVIEW Lorem Ipsum INTERVIEW Tyler Cowen PH OT OG RA PH Y: L IS A HE LF ER T RF: How did you become interested in looking at the arts from an economic perspective? Cowen: When I first started learning about economics in the 1970s, economic conditions were very bad. We had sluggish growth and high inflation. My early work tended to focus on macroeconomic and monetary questions because they seemed very pressing and important. But for the past 20 years, macro- economic conditions generally have been good, and the policies pursued by the country’s central bankers have improved a great deal. This, obviously, is wonderful. But, in a sense, it has made those fields much duller. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think all the key problems and questions have been solved, but their policy relevance has become less pressing. My professional interest in the arts began to emerge about 15 years ago when I spent some time in New Zealand. Their central bank had one of the first versions of inflation targeting, and I was hired as a consultant to come in and look at that. While I was there, I realized that I didn’t want to do just money and macro. So I started thinking about some of the niche areas in microeconomics. One of these was the arts. I thought that this was an area that had been underexplored and People generally agree that markets are the most efficient way to allocate resources. In short, they deliver the goods. One exception, some critics say, is culture. Markets respond to mass demand and, as a result, produce inferior, homogenized art. Consider movies. Hollywood makes plenty of special effects laden blockbusters but neglects thoughtful dramas and documentaries. You might be tempted to dismiss such arguments as mere snobbery. After all, a lot of this criticism boils down to one person wishing to substitute his own (supposedly refined) preferences for another’s (supposedly gauche) tastes. But there is a larger point to be made, says Tyler Cowen, an eco

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