Google has a Chief Economist. His name is Hal Varian. He’s on leave from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and School of Information. It’s an interesting idea for a corporation to have a chief economist, but it’s going to become as commonplace as having a CFO. The Internet has done a tremendous amount to make transactions more transparent. Every one of us has access to such a mountain of data that there is little we cannot discover, IF we knew where to look for it, and IF we could understand what it really means. As Varian puts it, Data is cheap. The dificult part is having the analytical ability to make use of that data. Thus, the growing need for economists in corporations. Governments have had chief economists for a long time and today, more than half of the world’s largest economies are corporations, not nations.
Take this trend and combine it with the “off the beaten path” work of economists like Freakonomics authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner and suddenly economics seems like a good educational choice to recommend to your college bound children. How long until one of TV’s cop shows gets replaced with a number crunching economist. Wait, that’s been done, sort of.