Call me ancient but I agree:
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.
In the old days you learned how to do in-depth research first and, once that was mastered, learned how to get it published. The almost unconnected essays are the most frustrating and not just for grumpy reasons. You sometimes might wonder if the 3 essays breeds a lack of patience, a hesitation to fight through a difficult problem and an unwillingness embrace the minutiae. All of which makes for sloppy research (I should know, mid-career time constraints [sometimes*] force me into that situation). Experience allows you to learn where you can take shortcuts and where you can't (but maybe PhD programs work on teaching that these days?).
Before you know it I'll be saying that I prefer courier font, mainframe SAS and photcopies from print journals.
*My referees can be the judge about the magnitude of "sometimes."
Hat tip: The Door.