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From the Manhattan Experiment to the discovery of Pluto!

August 26, 2005
Compare these two paparagraphs---the first from todays WSJ and the second from my review of Bob Woodward's Maestro:
Mr. Greenspan has often reached outside economics to hone his insights, at times drawing on history, physics, Mozart and even Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle for inspiration. In 1999, he tackled a key economic mystery with an analogy to the discovery of the planet Pluto. Scientists inferred Pluto's existence from the unexplained behavior of Uranus's and Neptune's orbits, he told colleagues that year. Similarly, he inferred from the fact that both the inflation rate and unemployment were falling that productivity growth must be much higher than economists had thought.
We learn [from Bob Woodward's Maestro]that Greenspan studied the theory of relativity and regarded his hypothesis that productivity had increased as analogous to Einstein's hypothesis that light would bend (p. 151), that his research staff considered their assignment to measure the change in productivity as "the economist's equivalent of the Manhattan Project" (p. 173)

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