A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 05, 2009
“The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable”

Ezra Solomon (1920-2002) was a professor of economics at Stanford University. As a member of the President Nixon’s Council of Economic Advisors (1971-1973), Solomon contributed to the change in monetary policy that saw the United States end the gold standard of U.S. currency. By at least 1985, Solomon was credited with this quote: “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” By the 2000s, however, the quote was misattributed to economist John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006).

“Meteorology” has replaced “astrology” in many recent versions. “The old saying goes that economic forecasters were invented to make meteorologists look accurate” is cited from 2007.


Wikipedia: Ezra Solomon
Ezra Solomon (1920-2002) was an influential US economist and professor of economics at Stanford University. As a member of the Council of Economic Advisors (1971-1973) during the Nixon administration, he was seen as having contributed significantly to the change in US monetary policy which resulted in the end of the goldsaid standard for US currency and of the Bretton Woods system of exchange rates.

Wikipedia: John Kenneth Galbraith
John Kenneth “Ken” Galbraith, OC (October 15, 1908 – April 29, 2006) was a Canadian-American economist. He was a Keynesian and an institutionalist, a leading proponent of 20th-century American liberalism and progressivism. His books on economic topics were bestsellers from the 1950s through the 1970s and he filled the role of public intellectual in this period on matters of economics.

14 April 1976, New York (NY) Times, “Recovery Is Progressing Smoothly, Economists Find” by Soma Golden, pg. 65, col. 2:
Professor Solomon said that forecasts of another recession for 1977 or beyond were “astrology,” not economics.

Google Books
Reader’s Digest
Published by , 1985
Item notes: v.126 (no.753-758 1985)
Pg. 33:
THE ONLY FUNCTION of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. —Ezra Solomon

20 July 1986, Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution, “Economist: Fed Must Cut Rate Again,” pg. E1:
“The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” - Ezra Solomon, professor of finance, Stanford University

Google Books
Looking Behind the Crystal Ball,
Or, How to Use a Business Economist Successfully

By Walter Evans Hoadley
Published by Vantage, 1988
Pg. 118:
Says Ezra Solomon, a professor in the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”

Google Books
Deming Management at Work
By Mary Walton
New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s
1990
Pg. 33:
“Those were the same folks who insisted that the only function of our quality program was to make astrology look good.”

Buffalo (NY) News
SEE WHAT FORECASTERS SAY BEFORE BUYING STOCKS, BONDS
Published on January 11, 1993
It was an economist, Ezra Solomon, who observed, “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology respectable.”

Yet investors can’t afford to keep their eyes only on the stars. The economy’s performance matters to investors because it affects the outlook for returns on stocks, bonds, mutual funds and commodities. And in fairness to the oft-maligned economic-forecasting profession, most forecasters were pretty close in 1992.

Google Books
Why Economists Disagree:
An Introduction to the Alternative Schools of Thought

By David L. Prychitko
Albany, NY: SUNY Press
1998
Pg. 3:
(Is Thurow aware of the joke that economics was invented to make astrologers look like good predictors?)

Globes online
“Globes" Big Money survey 2001: Round up the usual optimists
Even though the bears are continuing to trip up the bulls, Israeli investment managers participating in the “Globes” “Big Money” survey still see a positive picture for the local market in 2001. All the questions and all the answers.

Zvika Rubins
Professor Ezra Solomon of Stanford University opens his lectures, “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” It is not that he has anything against astrology, but economic forecasting, of the kind in “big Money” survey conducted by “Globes” at the beginning of 2000 turns to be problematical in retrospect.
(...)
Published by Israel’s Business Arena on 1 January 2001

Hudson Institute
Short-term Economic Speculation is Pointless
January 6, 2003
by Irwin Stelzer
(...)
People know that weather forecasters rarely get it right, yet continue to tune in to see what these fallible seers have to say about the meteorological outlook. People know, or should, that economic forecasters were invented to make weather forecasters look good, yet they continue to pore over the prognostications of those who have gotten it wrong as if past performance tells us nothing about the difficulty of predicting the course of an advanced industrial economy.

9 April 2007, Tulsa (OK) World, “For some things, get an expert”:
I adhere to the premise of the skeptic who claimed that economics was invented to make astrology look like a real science.

The Nobel Quest
Michael Press - 03 Sep 2007 08:07 GMT
Economics was invented to make astrology look good.

The American
The Great Recession of 2008?
By Diana Furchtgott-Roth
Friday, December 21, 2007
(...)
The old saying goes that economic forecasters were invented to make meteorologists look accurate.

Google Books
Signs of Success:
The Remarkable Power of Business Astrology

By Steven Mark Weiss
Published by AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn.
2008
Pg. 15:
Tlie only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. — -John Kenneth Galbraith, widely ascribed and quoted by BBC News

Michelle Malkin
On August 18th, 2008 at 10:57 pm, Alphonse said:
(...)
In science, a theory is considered valid if it can predict results. It is said that economics was invented to make weathermen look good.

BoardGame Geek - Forums
Rich
Posted Tue Sep 16, 2008 2:55 am
“We haven’t even counted the bodies” is a phrase. Meaning we don’t know the extent of this financial collapse. The economists are crapping themselves, but their predictions remind me of a joke.

“Why was economics invented? To make meteorology look good.”

Google Books
Reading the Recession for Signs of the Future
By PATRICK MCGEEHAN
Published: December 11, 2008
(...)
With such a wide spread of possible outcomes, it is no wonder that John Kenneth Galbraith, the famed economist, once said that “the only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”

Articlesbase
Recession? or Depression?
Posted: Jan 26th, 2009
(...)
The old saying goes that economic forecasters were invented to make meteorologists look accurate. When the weather reporter predicts snow, one can look outside to see if the forecast is correct. But when an economist predicts a recession, the only verification is the opinion of other economists. Unlike snow, no one can be sure when a recession has begun, or when it has ended.

Cafe Hayek
Economics was invented to make meteorology look good. (Boom. Boom.)
Posted by: Gil | Feb 5, 2009 10:45:24 PM

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Thursday, March 05, 2009 • Permalink