Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hoisted from the Comments

Anonymous writes:
Is there any chance you can mess with the html for the site to widen the margins (it's a pain to read something this narrow!), but I like the work.
I'll work on it.

And then writes:
I still don't understand how you're an aspiring academic economist - my personal favorites are mostly people who work in finance (either some of the bigger analysts like Rosenberg and Xie, hedge funders like Dalio, and Fleckenstein, or the enigmas of Roubini/Duy/Setser). You spend a lot of time ripping apart the field, and seem to have a strong interdisciplinary background. Who are the economists you really look to? Are you more of a post-Keynesian? Where do you really place yourself in the field?
OK, so the reason I'm an aspiring academic economist is because I think education is actually quite important, and I'd like to change the field. It doesn't have to be the case that academic economists are like medieval priests. They could potentially function as a useful segment of society. Or so I hope.

I'll admit I had not heard of most of the people you just mentioned. I just took a look at a Bill Fleckenstein article "Printing Money Isn't the Cure", and it looks Acemoglu look like a genius. In or close to a liquidity trap, which is where we are, then printing money is precisely what needs to be done. If inflation is ignited (which is our goal), then the fed can scale back later. And if we have 4-5% inflation, so what?

I have actually had a difficult time finding good economists, but my favorite is probably Joseph Stiglitz, then Krugman. Peter Temin and Gavin Wright have done some good work. David Card is of course excellent. Dani Rodrik can be ok on occasion. For econ history, i like Crosby, Diamond, Landes and Clark (plus krugman's geog & trade). I believe all of these books can tell you something about why some countries are rich and others are poor.

I lean left politically and that explains my economics. I believe Keynesian spending makes sense when you are close to being in a liquidity trap. I think that when state governments cut their budgets in the middle of recessions it's the dumbest policy imaginable. In normal recessions, however, I think the Fed alone is well-equipped to handle things, but I also like having automatic stabilizers. I think all of this is fairly standard for most economists on the center-right, center, center left, or far left. (Usually have faith in monetary policy except for steep recessions/liquidity traps.)

It's time Thorstein Veblen went to bed...


  1. Great title for a blog. See my recent articles on this guy, dailycapitalist.com

  2. Xie, Roubini, Duy, and Setser have econ phds.