When I saw this tricycle sculpture at a 2013 exhibit at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, I couldn't believe it. It is still the best artistic representation I have ever seen of the bizarre field of economics and the models economists spent hundreds of years designing to explain and predict the world.

When I looked at the title, it was even better: The Simultaneous Promise by Abraham Cruzvillegas.

Exactly. We never had a chance, because economists kept promising us the models they designed using what they freely admit are unrealistic and knowingly false assumptions can help us understand the world while simultaneously promising us they will throw out all the knowingly false ideas as soon as something better comes along.

Unfortunately, whenever someone comes up with something better, such as using facts to understand the world instead of looking at it through rear view mirrors distorted by the false market idea, economists turn up the music and refuse to listen.

I stood there thinking that if economists had spent a couple hundred years designing a bicycle or tricycle using the same approach they had used to design their models of perfectly competitive firms in perfectly competitive markets, it would probably look a lot like The Simultaneous Promise, because as soon as economists started making unrealistic and knowingly false assumptions, there was no way to stop. The only way to cover one knowingly false assumption was with another. And then another. Until what began as something simple and real turned into ideas so convoluted they have nothing to do with the world. 

- D.F. Paulaha 

Dennis F. Paulaha received B.S. and M.A. degrees in economics from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Washington. As a college and university professor, he taught macroeconomic and microeconomic theory at the principles, intermediate, advanced, and graduate level, monetary theory and policy, environmental economics, and special issues courses. In the real world, he wrote economic/investment newsletters with as many as 70,000 paid subscribers and was vice president of research for a national brokerage company.