On the One Hand… the Economist’s Joke Book

By Richard W. Evans on October 28, 2008 1:28 AM
The jokes in this post come, with permission from the author, from the only economics joke book I know of, On the One Hand… The Economist’s Joke Book, by Jeff Thredgold. You can purchase the book from his website.

A man was sent to Hell for his sins. As he was being processed, he passed a room where an economist he knew was having an intimate conversation with a beautiful woman.

“What a crummy deal!” the man complained. “I have to burn for all eternity and that economist spends it with that gorgeous woman.”

An escorting demon jabs the man with his pitchfork and shouts, “Who are you to question that woman’s punishment?”

Economics is the only field in which two people can receive a Nobel Prize for saying exactly the opposite thing.

Christopher Columbus was perhaps the first economist. When he left to discover America, he didn’t know where he was going. When he got there, he didn’t know where he was. When he returned, he didn’t know where he had been. And it was all done on a government grant!

Three economists went out hunting and came across a large deer. The first economist fired but missed by a yard to the left. The second economist fired, but also missed by a yard to right. The third economist didn’t fire, but shouted in triumph, “We got it! We got it!”

Did you hear the one about the economist who dove into her swimming pool and broke her neck?

She forgot to “seasonally adjust” her pool.

An “acceptable” level of unemployment means that the economist to whom it is acceptable still has a job.

An elderly economics professor stands near the shallow end of the campus swimming pool. A female student stands near the deep end taking pictures. She suddenly drops the camera into the pool.

She then motions for the professor to come to her. He goes to her, and she asks him to retrieve the camera. He agrees, dives in, and retrieves it.

Upon returning, he says to her, “Why did you ask me to retrieve the camera when there were many younger and more athletic men closer to you?” She replied, “Professor, I’m in your Economics 101 class. I don’t know anyone who can go down deeper, stay down longer, and come up any dryer than you.”

A recession is when your neighbor has lost her job. A depression is when you lose yours.

One day, a woman went for a walk in her neighborhood and came across a boy with some puppies. “Would you like a puppy?” asked the boy. “They aren’t ready for new homes quite yet, but they will be in a few weeks!”

“Oh, they’re adorable,” the lady said. “What kind of dogs are they?” “These are economists,” replied the boy.

“O.K. I’ll tell my husband.” So she went home and told her husband. He was very interested in seeing the puppies.

About a week later, he came across the lad. The puppies were very active. “Hey, Mister. Want a puppy?” said the boy. “I think my wife spoke with you last week,” stated the man. “What kind of dogs are these?”

“Oh. These are decision analysts,” stated the boy proudly. “I thought you said last week that they were economists,” stated the man.

“Well yes,” replied the boy. “But now their eyes are open.”

A veteran economist and a rookie economist are walking down the road. They come across a spoiled apple lying on the asphalt. Says the veteran economist, “If you eat it, I’ll give you $20,000!”

The rookie economist runs his optimization model and figures out that he’s better off eating it. He does so and collects the money.

Continuing along the same road, they almost step on a spoiled banana. The rookie economist states, “Now, if you eat that banana, I’ll give you $20,000.” After evaluating the proposal, the veteran economist eats the spoiled fruit, and soon collects the money.

As they continue walking, the rookie economist starts thinking and states, “Listen. We both have the same amount of money we had before, but we both ate spoiled fruit. I don’t see us being better off.”

Replies the veteran economist, “Well that’s true, but you overlook the fact that we’ve just been involved in $40,000 of trade.”

A woman hears from her doctor that she has only half a year to live. The doctor advises her to marry an economist

The woman asks, “Will this cure my illness?” The doctor answers, “No. But the six months will seem like a lifetime.”

A man walking along a road in the countryside comes across a shepherd and a huge flock of sheep. He tells the shepherd, “I will bet you $100 against one of your sheep that I can tell you the exact number in this flock.”

The shepherd thinks it over. It’s a large flock, so he accepts the bet. “There are 973 sheep,” says the man. The shepherd is astonished, because the man is exactly right. “O.K., I’m a man of my word. Take one.” The man picks one up and begins to walk away.

“Wait,” cries the shepherd. “Let me have a chance to get even. Double or nothing that I can guess your occupation.” The man agrees.

“You are an economist for a government think tank,” says the shepherd. “Amazing!” responds the man. “You are exactly right! But tell me, how did you deduce that?”

“Well,” says the shepherd, “Put down my dog and I’ll tell you.”

Back during the Solidarity days, the following joke was being told in Poland:

A man goes into the Bank of Gdansk to make a deposit. Since he has never kept money in a bank before, he is a little nervous.

“What happens if the Bank of Gdansk should fail?” he asks. “Well, in that case your money would be insured by the Bank of Warsaw.”

“But what if the Bank of Warsaw fails?” “Well, there’d be no problem, because the Bank of Warsaw is insured by the National Bank of Poland.”

“And if the National Bank of Poland fails?” “Then your money would be insured by the Bank of Moscow.”

“And what if the Bank of Moscow fails?” “Then your money would be insured by the Great Bank of the Soviet Union.”

“And if that bank fails?” “Well, in that case, you’d lose all your money….But wouldn’t it be worth it?”

“Someone once said about economists that they use economic data the way a drunkard uses a lamppost–for support rather than illumination.”

“Or as Disraeli put it, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.” (Paul Krugman)

Economic forecasting is like trying to drive a car blindfolded and following directions given by a person who is looking out of the back window.

A student named Michelle was taking a class taught by Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago. After a late night studying, she fell asleep in class.

This sent Friedman into a little tizzy, and he came over and pounded on the table, demanding an answer to a question he had just posed to the class. Michelle, now awake, said, “I’m sorry, Professor. I missed the question, but the answer is increase the money supply.”

Achieving free trade is like getting to heaven. Everyone wants to get there, but not too soon.

An economist returns to visit her old school. She’s interested in the current exam questions and asks her old professor to show her some.

To her surprise, they are exactly the same ones that she had answered 10 years ago! When she asked the professor about this, the professor answered, “The questions are always the same. Only the answers change!”

A physicist, a chemist, and an economist are stranded on an island with nothing to eat. A can of soup washes ashore.

The physicist says, “Let’s smash the can open with a rock.”

The chemist says, “Let’s build a fire and heat the can first.”

The economist says, “Let’s assume that we have a can opener.” (Paul Samuelson)

The First Law of Economics: For every economist, there exists an equal and opposite economist.

The Second Law of Economics: They’re both wrong.

Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, a highly esteemed economist, and an old drunk were walking down the street together when they simultaneously spotted a $100 bill. Who got it?

The old drunk, of course. The other three are mythical creatures.

Q: What do you get when you cross the Godfather with an economist?

A: An offer you can’t understand.

“If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three opinions.” (Winston Churchill)