Prof. Robert Whaples (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania) is Professor of Economics at Wake Forest University. He is the co-editor of Historical Perspectives on the American Economy (Cambridge University Press, 1995) and The Routledge Hndbook of Major Events in Economic History (Routledge, 2012), and is the author of the widely-cited "Do Economists Agree on Anything?" He has taught a Great Courses course on Modern Economic Issues.
What’s the best or worst advice you ever received when you were thinking about becoming an economist?
The best advice to a budding economist (although I didn't read it until many years after I became an economist) comes from Friedrich Hayek: "nobody can be a great economist who is only an economist – and … the economist who is only an economist is likely to become a nuisance if not a positive danger.”
The worst advice I heard may have been that economics is important to study because it's all about money and you can earn a lot if you study it. Economics is about a lot more than just money and you can earn a very good living doing it. Money is important, but if that's your only motivation, you won't be happy as an economist or as a human being.
Who’s the most important economist most
people—including economists—have never heard of?
Most people have not heard of one of the most important economists of
the twentieth century, Simon Kuznets, who did more than anyone else to
conceptualize our national income and product accounts and to push
estimates of GDP well back into the 19th century.
known are two other economic historians who deserve to be read: Robert
Higgs, whose research on the expansion of the U.S. government,
especially Crisis and Leviathan, is essential and Price Fishback, whose research has rewritten our understanding of the Great Depression era.