Sunday, December 20, 2009

Famous Conservative Textbook Author Offers the Economists for Firing Larry Summers some unsolicited advice

I'll honor this famous conservative economist's request to keep his e-mail confidential. Hence, I will just paraphrase it here:

He e-mailed out of genuine, heartfelt concern that we Economists for Firing Larry Summers are spending too much time blogging, and too little time working on our dissertations. He sees no value-added to society whatsoever of having a course which teaches His textbook blogged, nor can think of any reason why spending a few minutes to write a review of His book would be beneficial to anyone, but advises that this time would not be spent "optimally" in the sense that it will not help our careers. You see, he merely e-mailed out of concern for our future job market placement. And, btw, we are shrill and don't show enough deference and respect for older economists, those who ushered in the Golden Era of Macroeconomics (1970-2008) of which He played an important role.

You see, I myself shouldn't blog b/c I spend:
1. An hour blogging
2. 8 hours doing research, and
3. 45 minutes on hold w/ United (of which 30 minutes was thumbing thru the Accidental Theorist, searching for on which page Paul Krugman says wage cuts in a liquidity trap increase employment as Bryan Caplan asserts)
4. 15 minutes jogging
5. Several hours reading news and other blogs...

My response:

Dear Sir,

To write is to think more deeply about any given issue. That's why it is a shame that there is no writing in the first year of PhD programs... Without doubting your sincerity, I think your point is wrong on the merits. And as I learned little in my first year Macro courses (Micro and Metrics were also largely a waste of time), I believe rather strongly that your generation of Macroeconomists need to be taken down a notch (or three), not up.

I accord scholars respect based on their ideas, not their CVs, and I defer to scholars whose work has taught me something. Academia isn't Feudal Japan -- your age and rank don't guarantee you automatic respect nor should it.

On your blog, I see no mention of the Fed's obviously overly-tight policy stance right now. I saw no mention of the Fed's obviously overly-tight policy stance last summer. I saw no mention that the stimulus this spring was too small (you argued against). I am forced to conclude that you are not up to speed. Other economists, such as Joe Gagnon, Ryan Avent, Scott Sumner, Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong and Tyler Cowen have all been out front on this, and yet you demand I show you the same respect accorded them.

Sorry, Harvard man, you haven't earned it.


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