In macroeconomics, the intellectual challenge is every bit as great as it is in other fields that have unsolved problems. The economy is a gigantic system with billions of human decisions made every day. Furthermore, people look to the future and try to predict the behavior of the system as they make their decisions today. How are all these decisions being made? How are people reacting to the market forces around them and to the changes in the environment around them? How can we effectively summarize their behavior at an aggregate level? How is policy interacting with all those decisions? These are not questions that can be addressed with a wave of the hand, a clever speech or a witty blog posting. There is just no substitute for heavy technical analysis—plenty of math and statistics combined with plenty of computing power and plenty of intellectual creativity—to get to the bottom of these issues. We might as well admit that progress in attaining satisfactory answers is going to be slow, but still this is the only reasonable course to make progress.Excellent. A policymaker who understands that there is a lot we don't know, and that it's going to be hard slogging to improve on what knowledge we already have - or think we have. But he also seems to know where to look to get answers, and has respect for the economists doing the heavy lifting. For all of the young economists at the ASSA meetings looking for work, take note. This is the type of person you want to have in charge of the place where you plan on setting up shop.
For further reading, Bullard's piece is a synopsis from an interview for the Economic Dynamics newsletter.