Model answer

April 12, 1996

While the public face of last week's Royal Economic Society Conference at Swansea was to be seen in the texts of the 190 papers delivered, audience reaction suggested that the reality of an economist's existence was to be found in unscripted asides.

Ferocious competition to publish in top-rated journals was reflected in the wry observation by Andrew Clark, of the Organisation for Economic Corporation and Development, that "the first thing you should do with any argument you're particularly happy with is to find a way of demolishing it. It saves the referee's time". That drew almost as much appreciative laughter as an insight into the habits of economic modellers by Christopher Bliss of Nuffield College Oxford: "Nothing in nature is uniformly distributed, but you will find uniform distributions all over economic literature because they're so easy to model."

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