As a student of microeconomics, I can't agree more :) in fact a number of times in tutorials my erstwhile professors have been known to opine about what a load of bollocks certain macro theories are, since using a "average" or "collated" value makes everything following it meaningless. Median values, standard deviation etc make more sense for expressing wages (or disposable income) than an average over a population.
The interesting thing about the big list of Stuff We Agree On is that pretty much each and every one comes with a host of caveats. Plus it's from polls of USAian economists, not from the profession as a whole.
"A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available. (93 per cent)"
Main caveat: the sentence needs "in the USA" on the end of it.
While a simple rent cap obviously doesn't work, since everything below is unaffected (or rises to it) and everything above it ends up being nonviable as return on capital, it's a "bad" idea. But housing is never a simple situation, the local and countrywide laws (and how they are implemented) are much more relevant. The Dutch system is interesting, for a start you can't rent if you don't own outright, your mortgage lender forbids you to (by law I think, or habit), you can be forced to sell a rental property (well, not allowed to rent it out) if the social policy of the area dictates it, and there is a rental cap based on a points system for rentals under a certain value (650ish a month) and pretty much no rules above that.
You've also got very good courts, good quality social housing (long waiting lists, can't get kicked out even if you're now a millionaire), and some of the most evil scammy landlords on the planet. The former may be a result of the latter.
So while I do agree that rent caps ALONE are a bad idea, it's always part of a more complex equation.
"Tariffs and import quotas usually reduce general economic welfare. (93 per cent)"
Fair enough, but that's tied in with subsidies which are functionally reverse tariffs, and runs into issues with anti-dumping "fair" competition legislation.
"Flexible and floating exchange rates offer an effective international monetary arrangement. (90 per cent)"
Caveat: As long as monetary policy is sensible. It's also a very bland statement, a gold standard is also effective, if it was "the most effective" then I'm not sure how much agreement you'd get.
"Fiscal policy (e.g., tax cut and/or government expenditure increase) has a significant stimulative impact on a less than fully employed economy. (90 per cent)"
Surely it depends on who gets the tax cut, or receives the benefit of the spending. Effective spending has a positive multiplier, ineffective doesn't. Or it would result in it simply not mattering how or what the government spent up large on.
"The United States should not restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries. (90 per cent)"
Pointless statement really. Some work cannot be outsourced, since it needs to be done locally. Then it needs to be specified as to what sort of labor is being outsourced. Does it apply to the armed forces? Skilled vs unskilled, where do the payroll taxes end up etc.
"The United States should eliminate agricultural subsidies. (85 per cent)"
Sure, subsidies and tariffs distort the market. Getting rid of them would make things more competitive. But no-one wants to be the first to do it, as it will *probably* result in the collapse of that sector of the economy and dependence on imports. Apart from New Zealand (which has significant legislative support for the agribusiness sector) are there ANY first world countries that non-subsidised agribusiness sectors?
Would be interesting to see if you added "assuming no other countries do" to the statement how many would change their mind.
Also, what if ALL business subsidies and guarantees where eliminated, not just agriculture?
"Local and state governments should eliminate subsidies to professional sports franchises. (85 per cent)"
Sure, sounds good. Again, why not eliminate all subsidies to all business? If it's a loss making public good, then run it as a government department.
"If the federal budget is to be balanced, it should be done over the business cycle rather than yearly. (85 per cent)"
Sounds good, because both "balancing the budget" and "business cycle" are suitably undefined.
"The gap between Social Security funds and expenditures will become unsustainably large within the next fifty years if current policies remain unchanged. (85 per cent)"
Pointless statement. Extrapolating 50 years into the future without a host of caveats is batshit crazy. If we're doing that, then Apple will own the entire solar system within 30 years anyway :D
"Cash payments increase the welfare of recipients to a greater degree than do transfers-in-kind of equal cash value. (84 per cent)"
Can't argue with that really. Central control of individual decision making is almost always going to fail.
Overall I think there in general the only things that can be agreed on are almost always the things that we know will not happen short of a tectonic shift in politics. It's like saying we can solve all the pollution issues, we just need to dispose of about 85% of the population. Ideally at random :) but that's never going to get you elected.
As to the general fail of macro vs micro, there seem to be many issues with how you aggregate macro data, and lots of macro theory is some combination of self fulfilling prophecy and just-so stories. Oh, and a willingness to completely disregard observation of human behavior when it doesn't suit.
If you've got a single explanation for a macro phenomena, then you're clearly not an economist :) you're a politician, and you should already have your "solution" to hand.