Unlike in other disciplines, research output in economics is commonly measured based on the disciplinary reputation of the journals in which an author has published. Here, I examine how much output measures based on journal reputation tell us about the academic interest and relevance of economic papers as measured by frequency of citation. Using data from the 2008 Handelsblatt ranking of economists in German speaking countries and interdisciplinary citation data from the Web of Science, I find that researcher scores based on journal reputation explain only about 30 percent of the variation (variance) in article citations. When the top 10 (20) percent of the researchers according to journal reputation scores are excluded, the percentage of explained variation in citation frequency drops to 8 (3) percent. Furthermore, using environmental economics journals as an example, I show that the traditional output measures strongly discourage applied and interdisciplinary economic research. The findings confirm that the traditional output measures provide incentives for narrow economic work even if that work is of interest to only few other researchers. Responsible hiring committees and funding institutions should take these problems seriously and re-consider existing standards in the evaluation of economic research.