I just received the University of Michigan's (my alma mater) list of PhD candidates seeking employment in this job season. There are 19. Of them, 10 have a "dissertation" whose title begins with "Essays in/on...", 7 of them have a "dissertation" whose title begins with "Three Essays in/on" and the other 2 have an actual title (and maybe an actual dissertation too).
Yes, I understand the institutional pressures to get students out and yes I understand that articles are where the payoff is, but I can still lament the loss of sustained attention to a single argument that used to characterize a much higher proportion of Economics dissertations. And a title such as "Essays on the Macroeconomics of Trade Flows" is singularly uninformative in helping me understand what this person might be writing about.
Yes, I sound like an old fart, but so be it. "Three Essays in Search of a Staple" has won out in the "competitive" process, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.