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There have been quite a few economics questions that have been asked here in the last week or so.

Most of these questions are actually good economics questions but not really about political processes, policies, or personalities. There is an overlap because politics and economics tend to have some overlap especially when you start to measure effects of policy.

Do we want to open up the scope to economics questions where they have some tangential relationship to politics?

If not How can we differentiate between economics from politics questions in a way that will make sense to users? I have tried but I think my success have been somewhere between very limited at bet, to non existent at worst.

update: MacroEconomics is now officially in scope

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I certainly would like to include Econ in our scope.

If you agree, please vote this answer up. When we reach 10, I'll talk to people

Economy used to be called political economy for a reason. Good policy comes from good macroeconomic understanding.

Microeconomics tends to overlap with personal finance and psychology more, but macroeconomics is wholly what the nuts and bolts if good political discourse is about.

As an Econ undergrad myself, I was sad to see Econ.SE go quiet. I don't think Econ is viable on its own, but I'd be happy calling this politics and Econ SE. I'm that stoked about it.

  • I would not be adverse to that either, and think it might actually be a scope change that could turn this SE Around. Any feelers from @Shog9 or Robert about their willingness to allow us to rebrand like that? – SoylentGray Jul 18 '14 at 14:05
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    I think we need to see a critical mass here. If I can get 10 upvotes, for example, then I could go to the team and say "we should explicitly include this in our scope." For now, I would just say, let's enjoy the econ questions we're getting – Affable Geek Jul 18 '14 at 17:15
  • from a branding perspective, maybe we could keep politics.stackexchange.com, and see if we could have economics.stackexchange.com redirect here, and maybe even pull back some questions from that archive. – Affable Geek Jul 18 '14 at 17:16
  • If economics is off topic then the questions do not belong here and need to be closed. It creates noise and confusion to allow them if they are off topic. – SoylentGray Jul 18 '14 at 17:36
  • +1 Economic policies are the core of politics nowadays. – drake Jul 18 '14 at 21:02
  • @Chad Let me respond to your comment here. I know what you mean about my question. The point is that in my opinion all applied practical (non-textbook) economic belongs to politics. It is a subset of economics. Monetary policy is a part of politics, for example. Regardless of whether the issue or question is quantitative or qualitative. – drake Jul 19 '14 at 23:07
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    @drake - We are not on seperate sides here. I am for increasing the scope of the site. But right now the site is not scoped that way. By your logic people are a part of politics so we should allow general psychology and physiology questions as well. I think most people would agree that the scope should not include those. We have a defined scope for a reason. Including questions outside of that scope creates noise and invites more noise. We have enough of a noise problem with out confusing the scope with a wink and a nod. – SoylentGray Jul 20 '14 at 8:10
  • @Chad One of the founding principles of SE is that you get the site you choose. That is why we weed out blatantly off-topic questions. If, through benign neglect, I and the other mods allow a certain area to flourish, it will. The farmer is announcing to the fox which chickens aren't going to be guarded :) – Affable Geek Jul 20 '14 at 13:02
  • Also, on meta, I posted this: meta.stackexchange.com/a/199620/216898 nearly a year ago, in which I helped scope what kinds of economic questions are on topic. – Affable Geek Jul 20 '14 at 13:03
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    Well you and the other mods certainly are a big part of that... it is not your decision alone. I would also say the recent economics questions lean more towards history or math than politics. But if we open the scope up to directly include economics I they fall squarely back here and I think it would open the site up to more than those interested in the partisan bickering that has tended to dominate this site. – SoylentGray Jul 21 '14 at 13:18
  • I'd argue that economics and politics are coupled enough that you don't necessarily need to explicitly increase our scope to include economics. – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Jul 22 '14 at 16:46
  • Well, it looks like we hit 10, just as @Shog9 went on vacation :) Still, less than 11 days after we this was posted, we hit 10 - and that's not easy on this site :) Sounds like we're all pretty much in agreement that we think politics is on topic. – Affable Geek Jul 31 '14 at 13:01
  • @SamIAm - I would agree if it were not for the fact that there has been and Economics site in the past and there is a proposal in commitment on a51 right now. However I think an explicit declaration of the scope as being inclusive would be a good thing for both topics. Whether is done as an expansion of our existing scope, or just an explicit clarification that it is inscope here. I probably would not want to do either with out the blessing of the SE powers that be. – SoylentGray Aug 4 '14 at 14:26
  • @Chad Already on it :) Note: There is an econ proposal in the works (I don't think it will succeed) and so it is being discussed – Affable Geek Aug 4 '14 at 14:27
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Politics is about: power, how a society organizes itself, how communities interact with each other, and generally who gets what and why.

Economics is about: incentives, transactions, cause and effect, and the machinery/workings of an economy.

There is undoubtedly overlap between the two, but I wouldn't say that either is a subset of the other, and I think it would stretch the bounds of what a site about politics means to say that questions on economics, even narrowed to just macroeconomics, are wholly and always within scope.

Economics provides an extremely powerful toolkit for analyzing how things work, but it is not all powerful. Economists I think fall into a trap of assuming that since they can come up with a model for a situation, they understand the situation. xkcd has a great comic about this problem with respect to physicists.

I'm not trying to bash economics here. I think Affable Geek is right that macroeconomic policy is almost completely intertwined with politics. I think economics is great for providing a framework for getting close to an objective analysis of a situation, but not always well equipped for providing a normative analysis of that same situation. Normative judgments seem to be much more within the purview of politics.

To more directly answer Chad's question, I think as long as a question has a political hook to it it should be considered in scope. If it is just about the soundness of an economic policy solely from an economics perspective that seems to be less about politics. On History we try to make sure that questions have some attachment to the history of the situation or historical impact etc. I think the same considerations are valid for politics.

  • Bad Economists fall into the trap of assuming that since they can come up with a model of a situation they understand the situation. Many economists (I am tempted to say most, but that's probably not true) can be very humble about the limitations of their models and even have a great sense of humor about the profession in general. Personally, I think journalists & politicians publicize the economists with the boldest claims, not the most rigor and humility. unlearningeconomics.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/… youtube.com/watch?v=VVp8UGjECt4 – lazarusL Oct 6 '14 at 23:11

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