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Friday, July 11, 2008

"What Kind of Economist is Phil Gramm?"

Jamie Galbraith reviews Phil Gramm's Ph.D. dissertation:

Phil Gramm is ... John McCain’s ... closest economic adviser, and according to many reports practically the designated Secretary of the Treasury in a McCain administration. ... So it is perhaps worthwhile to ask, what kind of economist is Phil Gramm? ...

Back in 1995, when Phil Gramm was politically invincible in Texas, various so-called friends suggested that I should be the sacrificial lamb to run against him. I ducked, as any sensible person would have. But (at their request) I did supply the Dallas Morning News with a referee report on Gramm’s dissertation, along with a few notes on that of his wife. Needless to say, hers was much better.

To inject a note of academic sobriety into this election campaign, my review follows.

The review is here. A taste:

... His method is essentially, a critical review of literature.

For a Ph.D. dissertation, especially one which is not mathematical (and it isn’t), this one at 79 pages is short. It contains no advanced mathematics, no data or analysis of data, no archival or otherwise original research. It is based solely on published sources available in any well-equipped library at the time, and there is only one reference to anything written after 1960, which for a thesis submitted in 1967 is astonishing. The writing style is for the most part graceless and involute, marred here and there by misused words like “fecundities.” It is belabored and repetitive, with chapters that overlap each other. It is basically an extended discussion of a single idea. ...

    Posted by on Friday, July 11, 2008 at 01:44 PM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (43)


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