Should I open with that hackneyed line that some of my best friends are engineers?

Much of the work of understanding markets involves us trying to be a bit more like engineers. Trading involves engineering concepts (signal processing, etc.) because there isn't any other way that we know of to measure things like price strength.

Since the enlightenment I don't think we've moved past the idea of the economy as being like a vast machine - effectively the sum of its parts which can be improved and controlled with the right industrial training. Even when we accept that people are motivated by more than financial profit, we still have to find ways to incorporate these other motivations (economists refer to 'psychic profit') into our analysis.

If we throw up our hands and say, 'this is all too complex, how can you model things like love, curiosity, nostalgia, the desire to retain companies like Hertz?', then we're admitting that economics is not strictly a science. And the entire project of economics since the 19th century has been to make it more than merely a profession but a hard science.

So while economists might make fun of engineers, there is undoubtedly an element of jealousy at play!

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