Terrorist Economics

Everyone is having fun mocking the latest travesty of our airline security theater: the removal of a person described as “a 40-year-old man — with dark, curly hair, olive skin and an exotic foreign accent” from an American Airlines plane in Philadelphia because an adjacent passenger was alarmed at his ominous looking scribblings on a piece of paper.

Turns out the man was doing math.

Turns out the person was  Guido Menzio, who is Italian, not the ethnicity someone apparently thought, and he’s an award winning economist at Penn.

But I’m not so sure everyone is completely right about this story, though. Economists doing math can do a lot of damage. Not to airplanes, maybe, but certainly whole economies. James Grant likes to say that macroeconomics is just politics dressed up in differential calculus. And John Kenneth Galbraith remarked that economic forecasting was invented to make astrology look good. So maybe Menzio’s seat make was just trying to prevent the Fed from doing something even more stupid that it’s already doing?

Postscript: Although Menzio was removed from the plane, he was quickly allowed back on after a brief questioning. Even TSA can’t be quite that stupid, though I know they try.

And yes, the last paragraph is a joke, people.