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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Unidentified Pretend Economist

If you are going to criticize people for their economics and professional standards, shouldn't you try to live up to your own expectations? Richard Posner says:

I am concerned with the fact that academic economists, when they become either public officials or public intellectuals (like Paul Krugman), leave behind their academic scruples.
This raises the question of the ethical responsibility of academic economists, such as Romer (and Krugman, and Lawrence Summers, and many others), who write for the media or join the government, either to adhere to academic standards in their nonacademic work or to make clear to the public that they are on holiday from those standards...

I disagree with his claims, and I think one of his assertions about Romer is wrong (that her current position on the stimulus package differs from what is in her academic work), but in any case, where are his standards? In his discussion of macroeconomic policy, he doesn't even get the basics right (to name just one obvious example, his definition of investment in Y=C+I+G includes financial assets, something principles of macro courses make abundantly clear shouldn't be done, and he talks about foreign demand for US goods, but doesn't include NX in his definition of output). Yet, nowhere does he say “I don’t know what I am talking about because I am a judge, not a macroeconomist.” Instead, in his role as a public intellectual, he acts like he is an expert in the field. Ethics indeed.

Update: Brad DeLong has much more.

    Posted by on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 12:31 AM in Economics | Permalink  Comments (57)


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