Like the ethnographer in exotic settings, I participated at this year’s ASSA meetings with ears and eyes tracking the bizarre and quaint. Economists are a strange tribe. They dress in gray suits, have gray hairs, and get excited by the grayest of subjects. In their conversations two terms caught my attention.
The term is applied to the functional form of models, often their production side. The analogy seems to suggest that the function so identified is the preferred for a certain modeling community and that it is the device that produces dynamics, pulls, works.
The term is used mainly in among the finance clan. It denotes those companies or banks that although insolvent are rescued by government intervention and linger on thanks to the handout. Deciding who is alive and who is a zombie is a puzzle since creative accounting and off balance sheet practices may hide abominations.