Streetwise Professor

December 6, 2011


Filed under: Economics,Politics — The Professor @ 10:05 am

My colleague, economist and historian of Russia Paul Gregory, delivers a beatdown on former NYT editor Bill Keller for Keller’s attempt to define who is a real economist and who is a crank.  And I mean beatdown: make sure no children are present when you read it.

Keller’s views on economics are a pitch-perfect display of the insular Pauline-Kael-I-don’t-know-anybody-who-voted-for-Nixon worldview so characteristic of the Upper West Side.  Sadly, although Keller is not an economist and wouldn’t know good economics if it bit him where he sits (his head, apparently), he is joined in his narrowmindedness by Krugman and David Warsh, who have taken it upon themselves to read Hayek out of the respectable economics canon.   I can guarantee you, by the way, that Krugman has no prayer of being remembered and cited 40-75 years after the publication of his most important scholarly works, as Hayek is. Eat your heart out, Paul–teh Krugman, not Gregory.

The Keller-Krugman-Warsh effort to define respectable economics as “people who agree with Keller-Krugman-Warsh” is actually kind of pathetic and defensive.  It also brings to mind the frantic efforts of the climate clerisy to discredit and stifle contrary voices.  These efforts actually betray a rather acute insecurity.  An insecurity that is quite warranted, by the way, as Paul Gregory brutally points out.

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  1. No surprise from Krugman, of course. And as for Keller, who cares? But Warsh’s dismissive account is not so surprising either when I think back to my grad school profs who came from the Chicago School. Although they publicly praised Hayek for his politics and policy prescriptions, they privately dismissed his economics in unambiguously snotty terms. On a positive note, if you read Warsh to the end, he does give Hayek credit for the concept of “spontaneous order” and of markets as evolutionary mechanisms, both of which seem more consistent with how markets work than the physics-wannabe theory we learned in grad school.

    Comment by DrD — December 6, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

  2. No surprise that a genius like Keller can be influenced by the prominent ENRON Adviser Krugman(aka Mite lacks Height). To extend his already profound and too deep to comprehend for us peasants knowledge, I suggest he learn to define the follwoing:

    Stochastic Process.
    Feedback loop
    Theory of rational expectations.

    Once accomplished he will earn and be deserving of a Nobel prize, just like Obama. Of course to accept it he will have to climb off of Olympus and join us mortals down here in the sh*t, but his magnanimity and desire to inspire us with wisdom just might convince him to make this sacrifice.

    Comment by Sotos — December 6, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

  3. Couldn’t have said it better myself, Sotos. DrD–yes, the history of Hayek at Chicago is quite interesting. The commitment of Chicago Schoolers to equilibrium theorizing divided them from Hayek (and other Austrians). One exception is Sherwin Rosen (a member of my PhD committee, btw), who wrote and spoke favorably but critically about Austrian economics generally, and Hayek specifically. This is particularly interesting inasmuch as Sherwin was a true-blue Chicago guy who got his doctorate from Harvard, so one would think that would have given him a double inoculation from Hayek/Austrian economics. But Sherwin was a thoughtful and fair minded person. Sort of an anti-Krugman.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — December 6, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

  4. No falsifiable predictions, no experiments => no science.

    Comment by So? — December 7, 2011 @ 1:38 am

  5. Of course Craig, you are one of these, “academics from off-the-beaten-path colleges,”. It’s tough for those of use living on academic goat paths. But, we can harken back to those happy days at Chicago (or UCLA) or wherever we got our degrees. I wonder if Keller took economics from anyone as good as your professors at Chicago? Unlikely.

    Comment by David Hoopes — December 7, 2011 @ 8:43 pm

  6. P.S. Mario over at ThinkMarkets gives a very good reply to Krugman.

    Comment by David Hoopes — December 7, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

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