This is from an article about UK austerity measures. It’s a paragraph I like because it describes a process very similar to the best of my experiences working in economics.
Economics often appears to be an exercise in number-crunching, but it actually resembles storytelling more than mathematics. Before the members of the Monetary Policy Committee gather for their monthly meeting, they sit through a presentation from the Bank of England’s economic staff. The staff members take the most recent economic data — G.D.P. growth, the unemployment rate and more subtle details gathered from interviews with businesspeople throughout the country — and try to fashion it into a narrative. Does a sudden spike in new factory orders represent a fundamental shift, or is it just a preholiday blip? Do anecdotal reports of rising food prices herald a period of inflation, or is it the result of a cold snap? Which story feels truer?
A few days later, each of the nine members of the M.P.C. puts forth his or her own interpretation. Over two days, the members debate these competing narratives and discuss what the Bank of England should do. Then the committee votes, and the winning policies are implemented.
The best economists I have worked with or near have been brilliant storytellers.