Charlatans and Cranks…

Greg, Greg, Greg, Greg, Greg, Greg. Setting fire to your own credibility to please your political masters is a very myopic intellectual strategy. It is doubleplusungood to say: “It’s bad when a Democratic president and his economic advisors do it, but it was just wonderful peachy when a Republican president and I did it.”What Greg Mankiw says in 2009, via Obey:>Why is Greg Mankiw freaking me out?!: [T]oday I find on the [Greg Mankiw web]blog this text on the stimulus plan, which contains the following: ‘The expression “create or save [4 million jobs],” which has been used regularly by the President [Obama] and his economic team [Christie Romer, Larry Summers, Jared Bernstein, Tim Geithner, etc.], is an act of political genius. You can measure how many jobs are created between two points in time. But there is no way to measure how many jobs are saved. Even if things get much, much worse, the President can say that there would have been 4 million fewer jobs without the stimulus. […] So he gave us a non-measurable metric…’And if I type “mankiw 2003 tax cut effects” into the Google search box, the fourth hit takes us to “Charlatans and Cranks”–what Greg Mankiw said in 2003:>Greg Mankiw: On Charlatans and Cranks: [T]he actions the President [George W. Bush] took made the recession less severe. As the President [George W. Bush] has discussed, analysis done within the Administration has shown how his tax cuts have substantially offset the series of adverse shocks that have been buffeting the economy. Simulations of a conventional macroeconomic model show that, without the tax cuts, the level of real GDP would have been about 2 percent lower in the middle of 2003. About 1.5 million fewer people would have jobs today. The job market is not what we would like it to be right now, but it would have been worse without the Administration’s actions. One can view the short-run effects of these tax cuts from a classic Keynesian perspective. The tax cuts let people keep more of the money they earned. This supported consumption and thus helped maintain the aggregate demand for goods and services. There is nothing novel about this. It is very conventional short-run stabilization policy: You can find it in all of the leading textbooks…Forgetting that teh Google exists is a very elementary blunder.In the long run, I think, the coming of Google will greatly increase the degree to which people say what they think rather than what they believe will ingratiate themselves to some powerful group. Being exposed as transparently two-faced is humiliating, and if you say what you really think and only what you really think then you are safe–except, of course, for having your words ripped from context, and for those cases in which what you really think actually does change over time. But as the realization that teh Google exists, more and more ganders are going to think twice before they try to make sauce for the goose…—-Obey comments:>This is a strange thing [for ‘Greg Mankiw’] to say. Because it is stupid and [the entity claiming the internet name] ‘Greg Mankiw’ could not have the credentials [Greg Mankiw] has if [Mankiw] were stupid. Firstly, ‘create or save’ just means the gap between (i) the unemployment rate with the stimulus and (ii) the expected counterfactual unemployment rate were there no stimulus…. Now, if ‘Mankiw’ were a mindless zombie, this kind of thing would be understandable. After all, there are zombie masters in the republican party who want the Obama plan to fail, or at least look like it has failed…. But ‘Mankiw’ is not a mindless zombie – he says lots of other things that are strikingly human-like…. The moral of the story being, that I prefer my blogs to be anonymous, and I don’t like credentials – because without them all this kind of cognitive dissonance goes away…


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